Cleaning tinted windows is a simple process as long as you use the right products and tools. Below, we have provided an in-depth guide that will show you how to clean tinted windows properly and a list of everything you will need for the task.
Know what products you can use
Before you can start cleaning the tinted windows on your car, you will first need to make sure that you have all the right tools at hand. Cleaning tinted windows is no different than cleaning non-tinted windows, but you will need to pay particular attention to the products you use. The cleaners that work for non-tinted windows may not be safe to use on your tint film.
It is important to know what products are bad for tinted windows so that you can avoid doing damage to them accidentally or reducing their life. As a general rule, you should only use cleaning products that don’t contain ammonia. You can use ammonia-based cleaners on the outside of the windows but not on the tinting on the inside.
Ammonia can cause permanent damage to the window’s tint. It may not damage it at first, but with extended use, it will cause the tint on the window to appear purple, and the film will begin to weaken and brittle.
Similarly, you should stay away from using towels that are made from rough materials since you don’t want to scratch or damage the layer of tint film. Instead, microfiber towels are the best choice since not only are they soft, but they can also absorb a lot of water, which makes them ideal for this job.
You will need to use two microfiber towels, one for applying the cleaning solution and the other to dry the windows.
Depending on the type of cleaner that you purchase, you might also need to have a bucket and distilled water ready to use. Some cleaners don’t require water, and they can be sprayed directly on the window without needing to be diluted in water. Before you use it, make sure to read the label of your ammonia-free cleaner carefully.
Choose the right parking spot
Now that you have all the items you will need to start the cleaning process, there’s one last thing you need to take care of, and that is to choose the right spot to park the car. You might be tempted to clean the car in the sun, but this is exactly what you should try to avoid.
Instead, you should pick a shaded spot that’s not in direct sunlight. Cleaning the car in the shade will make the drying process slower and your job easier. If the cleaning agents dry too quickly, it will be difficult for you to spread the cleaner. This will also lead to water spots and an incomplete-looking cleaning job.
The best spot to clean the car is in the shade of a garage, but if that is not available, you should look for an overhang or a suitable tree. When parking beneath a tree, you should check for the presence of sap since some trees, such as pines, exude a sticky sap that can damage the finish of your vehicle.
Cleaning with glass cleaner
For moderately-dirty windows, you will need to get your ammonia-free cleaner and spray it evenly onto your tinted windows. If you want to avoid accidentally spraying the cleaner on other parts of your car’s interior, then you can instead spray onto the cloth. If you have a cleaning product that needs to be diluted with water, submerge the cloth in the bucket and wring it.
It is important that you use distilled water and not tap water since the hard tap water can leave calcified spots and white-colored scales on the glass. These spots are even more visible on a tinted window.
No matter the type of cleaner that you use, the next step remains the same. You need to wipe the windows with the damp cloth and gently work your way until you’ve cleaned the entire surface. For hard-to-remove stains, you can apply more cleaner and leave the stain to soak in it for a few minutes.
You need to be gentle with the cloth, but you should work fast since glass cleaners tend to dry quickly. You should wipe in a vertical pattern followed then by a horizontal pattern until the window cleaner has dissipated completely. If you still notice streaks, you will need to repeat this process.
Once the window looks clean, you should get the other dry cloth and use it to wipe the window to remove all the excess moisture that’s still present on the tint. It is important to try not to get a large amount of cleaner on the edges of the tinting since if the cleaner product gets underneath it, it can cause the film to lose its stickiness and peel away.
What if you don’t have a window cleaner?
If you don’t have an ammonia-free cleaning product readily available, you can also clean the windows using only water. Get a spray bottle and fill it with water. Spray the windows or the microfiber cloth with water from the spray bottle. A light mist is all you will need.
Wipe the window vertically over its entire surface and then wipe in a horizontal pattern until all the streaks and water droplets have dissipated. When using just water, you might need to wipe more times since you are relying entirely on the cloth to trap the dirt in its fiber.
Once you are satisfied with the way your window looks, you can use the other dry cloth to remove the moisture.
You can also make your own DIY ammonia-free window cleaner using just three ingredients. You will need to get a clean spray bottle and fill it with distilled water. Next, add a few drops of liquid baby soap and two tablespoons of Isopropyl Alcohol in the bottle. The rubbing alcohol should have a percentage of 91%, but you can also use the ones that have a lower percentage.
Mix everything, and you’ll get an ammonia-free DIY cleaner that is just as efficient as the products you find in stores.
Cleaning excessively dirty windows
There are situations when your tinted windows can get very dirty, such as when your heater core leaks, and you have coolant residue all over the window glass. People who smoke inside the car will also have more work on their plate as the smoke residue will stick to the windows.
In this case, cleaning the windows properly will take a bit of extra effort, and you will need to use a mixture of soap and water, then follow it up with the regular window-cleaning process. Get a bucket of warm distilled water and mix about one teaspoon of dishwashing soap per gallon of water. The formula doesn’t need to be very foamy.
Instead of using the microfiber cloth, when cleaning with soapy water, it is best to use a soft sponge. Submerge the sponge in the soapy water and let it soak properly. Wring it out until the water is no longer dripping. Wipe the car windows completely using the sponge. The sponge will collect the dirt and residue, so you will need to rinse and wring it out regularly.
Repeat this process for all your car windows. Once you have removed the difficult residue, you can use a dry cloth to absorb all the soapy water from the window. Let the windows dry. There will still be a lot of streaks left, but that’s okay since you are not done cleaning.
Once the windows have dried, you can start to clean them again using either the ammonia-free cleaner method or the water method, depending on what products you have available. Follow the process we have described above. Clean the windows using a damp microfiber cloth and then dry them using a clean and dry cloth.
Maintenance is important
Now that you’ve learned what it takes to clean tinted windows, this is the perfect time to take a moment to consider a few helpful tips that can help improve the longevity of the tint and its look. It is true that durability and looks depend a lot on the type of tint film that you have applied since a cheap one will not last as long as a premium tint film that can last for the lifetime of the car.
However, there are still some easy tips that can help prolong the longevity of the window tint film. You should consider parking the car in the garage or in the shade instead of leaving it in direct sunlight for long periods. Decreasing the amount of full sun on the windows can help the tint look better for longer.
When you take a trip to the carwash to have the exterior of the car cleaned, you should also clean the interior of the windows. As a general rule, you should clean the windows, in and out, every two weeks.
Lastly, if you notice imperfections after cleaning the windows, you shouldn’t try to fix them using home products since this can be counterproductive. You should only try fixing the tint film if you have experience in this area. Instead, if you notice that something is wrong with your window tint, you should have it checked by a professional.