Having clean car windows is important for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason being that it will allow you to see the road and your surroundings clearly.
The state of your car windows can also have an impact on how clean your car looks. Sparkly clean paint will not stand out as much if your windows are covered in grime.
It’s always surprising how much better you car looks after the windows have been cleaned properly and protected using glass sealant.
Unfortunately, you will not always have windex or glass cleaner at hand. You may be on the road, or attending car meets on a whim, so here’s 9 different ways to clean car windows and mirrors without windex.
9 Methods To Clean Car Windows & Mirrors Without Using Windex
While I personally believe in using glass cleaner or diluted all-purpose cleaner to clean my windscreen and windows, there are other methods that can do the job.
Each method listed below is safe for glass. Just make sure that you wipe any residue from the windscreen using a microfiber towel before it dries on the glass.
Failure to do this could end in a streaky finish, or effect your driving visibility.
The cheapest and easiest way to clean your windows is by using water. No matter where you are, you probably have access to water.
I personally drink a lot of water, so I’ll always have some in my car, but, you can stop at a public restroom or even go into a restaurant and ask for water.
The biggest downside with water, is the fact that it can only do so much. It doesn’t have the same cleaning power as even the weakest cleaning products. That said, it’s good enough to remove light dusting and contamination.
It’s hard to define “soapy” water, however, in this case, I suggest using car soap in a bucket of warm water.
You can use other cleaning products & soaps with water to clean your car windows.
I know many people swear by using dawn soap or whichever dish soap they use, I prefer to use car products, but if that’s all you’ve got, it will get the job done.
If you are going to use home cleaning products, make sure to wash it from the window completely. Dish soaps and washing up detergents are notorious for leaving behind streaks and can create a rainbow effect that seriously hinders your view.
While it seems almost like a no brainer, I barely see screenwash used to clean car windows.
This is a product that’s strong enough to clean your car with a squirt and slight wipe from a windscreen wiper. Imagine what it could do with some pressure applied.
What’s great about this, is that you don’t even need to rinse it away or buff it from your windscreen. It dries completely clear and doesn’t cause any issues while driving.
A lot of people carry this in their trunk anyway, or they have it in a cupboard at home. It’s super cheap to buy, lasts forever and will also let you top up your screen wash. What’s not to love?
I’ve experimented a lot with degreaser on my cars glass. It has insane cleaning power and will clean almost anything from the glass when used at the right dilutions.
I make sure to get the concentrated product and then mix it into a bottle with a 1:10 dilution ratio. From there, I’ll either spray it onto the windows or pour it onto a wash mitt.
I wouldn’t recommend using the foams. They’re almost guaranteed to dry on your windscreen and cause issues.
If you’re using a degreaser, make sure that you have a lot of water and microfiber towels nearby. Even at high dilution ratios it can be hard to completely remove the solution from your windscreen.
I would try to avoid using degreaser when possible, but it certainly has its place.
If you’re working on a windscreen that’s caked in dirt or hasn’t been properly washed in years, that’s when you should use degreaser.
Rubbing alcohol is incredibly versatile. It’s used in a number of products and various different household cleaning tasks.
Buying a high percentage rubbing alcohol and using it on your windscreen is a sure fire method for cleaning the glass on your car.
Whenever you use rubbing alcohol, simply wet a cloth or sponge with water and then add some rubbing alcohol to it. This will result in a slightly diluted solution that’s safe for your paint and will clean almost anything from your windows.
Once the window is clean, buff it using a microfiber towel and you’ll have the shiny windows that let you see literally everything.
Disinfecting wipes are similar to rubbing alcohol, however, they are a much weaker solution, being made up of only 70-80% Isopropyl Alcohol.
The good thing about these wipes, is the fact that you can carry around a small packet or container of them in your glove box and completely forget about them.
They’re also great for general use, especially with a certain world pandemic that’s going on!
I’ve found one issue when using these cloths. If I cheap out and buy budget wipes, they’re often filled with lint. You’ll always be buffing the windscreen down afterwards with a clean towel, however sometimes you’ll find small bits of lint left behind.
Disinfecting wipes are a great option for road trips and quick pre-event wipe downs. I wouldn’t use them as your go to windscreen cleaner though.
If you’re not familiar with All-Purpose Cleaner (aka APC), it’s one of the most versatile cleaning products you’re ever going to find.
Buying a concentrated All Purpose Cleaner and spray bottles will allow you to make up many different cleaning products at home by yourself.
All you need to do is add some APC to a spray bottle, dilute it with water and then you’ll have a cleaning solution that you can control the strength of.
Depending on how dirty your windows are, you may want to use anywhere between 1:5 & 1:20 dilution. You may also want to make up a bottle and keep it in your car for road trips and travelling.
My favourite APC is Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner, it even comes with its own spray bottle if you want to try it out.
If you’re someone that’s always cleaning their car, APC is a great product to have. It can act as a dash cleaner, upholstery cleaner and much more.
White Vinegar & Newspaper
Using white vinegar to clean windows is the oldest trick in the book. Look at any home cleaning blog or youtube video and most of them will suggest this technique.
It works so well on your windows at home, so why wouldn’t we use it on our car windows?
While it is a good method, cheap to do and most people have the stuff around there house, I’m a little cautious of taking newspaper to your windows.
I would suggest using something softer, like a budget sponge or microfiber towel. You can get towels for <$1 so it’s not a huge cost if you were to throw it away afterwards.
The biggest downside with this method is the fact that you may smell vinegar in your cockpit for days after (even if you don’t clean the inside of the windows).
If you’re going to use this method, make sure to rinse it off thoroughly with water. I’d also recommend getting a scented screen wash to try and mask the smell.
Methylated spirit is another strong smelling product that you can use to clean windows.
I’d personally avoid this at all costs, it has a strong cleaning power but can be very harmful. It’s strong smelling and can be nauseating for some people.
If you are intent on using it, I’d recommend diluting it with water. You’ll also have to make sure it’s completely rinsed from the glass, removing as much of the smell as possible.
The last thing that you want to be doing is driving along, breathing in meth spirits, feeling nauseous as you drive. It’s completely unsafe.
Glass Cleaner Will Always Be My Go To
As someone that’s enthusiastic about detailing, I already own most of the detailing and cleaning products that I suggested on this list.
It will always be better to use glass cleaner on your car glass, or even windex, than something that’s not designed to clean glass.
The methods and cleaning products listed above will definitely clean your car windows, but, they’re not specifically designed for that.
I’d use the homemade solutions as a last resort, whether it’s because you’re running low on money, or have limited access to products.