How to clean the inside of a windshield

We all love a clean vehicle. It feels good riding around in a fresh and shiny car. But, keeping it detailed to a high standard takes a bit of effort on your end. Especially if it is your job to clean and polish it. What’s the toughest part for most people? The windshield! The outside exterior of a window is easy to clean, but cleaning the inside of a windshield can be tricky!

So how do you clean the inside of a windshield? Here are the basic steps:

  1. Ensure the windshield is out of direct sunlight.
  2. Get a good windshield cleaner and two clean soft microfiber towels.
  3. Spray one towel and wipe the windshield from top to bottom.
  4. Buff the glass with a fresh soft towel until shiny.

From the right cleaners to the right body positions, we’ve got the best tips on how to get your windshield crystal clear! It’s a tough job. But don’t fret, by the time you are finished with this article you’ll be ready to tackle it.

How to clean the inside of a windshield - glass cleaning instructions and tips
How to clean the inside of a windshield

Step 1: Get the right tools for cleaning the inside of the windshield

Choosing the products right for the job is half the battle. Not just any old cleaner or towel will properly clean the inside of a car windshield. And, the same rules apply to just about any type of windshield from a two-door sports car all the way up to a semi-truck.

Not even the leading brand or the most expensive brand of household glass and window cleaner can save you from streaks on the windshield. Here is what to gather:

  • Clean microfiber towels
  • Foam or spray glass cleaner
  • Diluted white vinegar (for smokers)
  • Good old-fashioned elbow grease

There are lots of decent glass cleaners that work well on the inside of windshields. Perhaps the most popular is Sprayway Glass Cleaner, which comes in a 19 oz (539 g) spray bottle. It sprays out as a heavy-duty foam that doesn’t easily fall off the inside of the windshield. It’s ammonia-free and guaranteed to leave no film.

Step 2: Move to a shady spot

The outside temperature and severity of the sun beating down can (and most of the time does) have a negative effect on your venture of producing a spot-free windshield. If you are currently parked in the blazing sun, move it to a shady area or wait until later in the day when the sun is not as strong.

If you decide to move your vehicle, you will still want to give the glass about an hour to cool off.

How to clean the inside of a car windshield
Spraying the foam directly on the glass can be a bit of a bother on an interior windshield. It’s generally easier to spray the cleaner on the cleaning cloth instead of directly on the glass. If you do spray the glass directly, use a heavy-duty foam that won’t fall down.

Step 3: Spray towel and clean top to bottom

Windshields are actually some of the toughest glass surfaces to clean. They do tend to be hazy or streaky even after cleaning, which is obviously a safety hazard when on the inside of your windshield.

You will know this if you have gone about cleaning your windshield inadequately and ended up with a windshield that you can barely see out of. The residue makes it difficult to see!

Washing the inside of a windshield is not a simple spritz with Windex and wipe with a paper towel, or vinegar, and a wad of newspaper type of job. This glass is far more complex than house windows or mirrors, and it’s not a one-step process.

Tips for cleaning:

  • Read and follow all safety precautions and guidelines for the cleaning product and your other equipment
  • Take your clean towel and spray the towel with cleaner
  • Roll down a few windows for air circulation
  • Wipe top to bottom and vice-versa. This ensures you are able to wash one area in one clean sweep. Cleaning by wiping side to side can be tricky… Windshields are big!
  • If you have sensitive hands, consider wearing gloves. Some people prefer nitrile gloves to prevent the cleaning solution from touching their skin.

Top tip: Spray the towel instead of the windshield. This will help you control the chemical so that it does not get on your dashboard, in your control panel, or blow back into your face. It’s a lot easier this way!

Step 4: Buff until shiny

Step three is done, so now the windshield is clean, what is next on this list? Buff and polish! No, we are not talking about waxing your motor vehicle’s glass. Similar idea, though.

After a windshield is cleaned, you will need a fresh microfiber (or other soft) towel, to give the glass a firm polishing. This makes sure that all the cleaner residue is gone from the glass surface, leaving it looking shiny and new.

This step may take more muscle than cleaning, but it will be worth it in the end! With the same top to bottom (or bottom-to-top) pattern, rub the clean towel firmly on the glass to buff. This is the best way to get the inside of the windshield super clean and transparent.

More tips on cleaning the inside of a windshield

Cleaning the inside of a windshield can be a twisting, back-bending experience. With the proper body mechanics, you will reduce your risk of injury and save yourself from being sore tomorrow. The same rules apply to any type of physical movement that places your body into positions that are not natural or comfortable for you. Whether we want to believe it or not, injuries can and do happen just from trying to clean your windshield. Don’t let it happen to you.

It may sound silly, but a little pre-game muscle stretch couldn’t hurt. It will actually help loosen up your neck, shoulders, and back. Don’t forget about your wrists and hands!

Use the most comfortable positions possible for your body and keep your wrists straight. Push with your whole body and lean into the motion.

If you feel that you are physically unable to get all the way from top to bottom, side to side, and all the way to each of the far corners of the windshield, you should ask someone to help you or hire a professional for interior detailing services. It is better to be safe than sorry.

An extra step for smokers

Smoking in your car produces a thick film on the windows, especially the windshield. Even those that smoke vapes instead of smoking cigarettes or cigars in the vehicles will, in time, notice a build-up of film.

This film is not only an undesirable substance for drivers and passengers, but it can also be dangerous on the inside of your car’s windshield and windows. Though it may not affect you all the time, when the sunlight or streetlamps hit it just right, there is a chance that you may not be able to see out properly.

We may have just stressed the importance of using a cleaning product especially made for windshield and motor vehicle glass, but removing smoke takes an additional prior step when cleaning the inside of a windshield. It is recommended to first use a ten-to-one water dilution with white vinegar to prep the surface.

If you can pour your solution into a spray bottle, that may help prevent you from possibly spilling vinegar in your car. This will also be sure to protect your electrical systems. As if spreading it all over your windshield is not bad enough, accidentally dousing your seats and carpet could stick with you for months to come out, especially if it is hot outside.

Also, avoid spraying sensitive surfaces, with vinegar or any cleaners!

  • Use a clean microfiber or soft towel. You may need to use both sides to make sure that you are removing the film and not just spreading it around.
  • Wet your towel with the solution and put some effort into it. Wipe with either a circular motion or broad wide strokes, being sure to remove all dust, dirt, and film from the windshield.
  • Wait until the surface is completely dry, then move on to the last step!
  • When the grime is gone, you can break out the windshield cleaner, and a fresh towel! You will still need to give it a two-step clean and buff it with the cleaner. Vinegar will not eliminate either step of the process.
How to clean the inside of a car windshield
Using Windex to clean the inside of a windshield – cleaning tips for how to clean inside a windshield (inside the vehicle).


If your car is starting to get dirty, it may be time for a good deep clean. Part of deep cleaning your car means trying to get your windshield clean too! As great as having a clean windshield is, though, it can be a tough job. Unlike many of the car’s surfaces, you’ll require a few more steps and materials.

Next time you’re detailing the vehicle’s interior, bring out a clean or new microfiber towel, glass cleaner, and all of your cleaning muscles! If you smoke, be sure to bring out a vinegar solution too. Following the steps in this article will leave your window washed and ready for the next road trip!

Other cleaning articles

Some messes are easier to clean than others! Here are some other cleaning articles that may come in handy.


You can also check out the cleaning category to see which other posts we have. Simply click the button below!

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a digital content creator and mom of three. She is also an engineer and bit of a plant nerd too. She has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, and Family Handyman.

Articles: 64

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *