We get more questions about proper window and mirror cleaning and associated products and towels, then any other topic.
Detailers and auto enthusiasts are always on the lookout for better and easier ways to clean glass.
Lets face it, it isn’t easy to get glass streak free. Even seasoned professionals find themselves chasing streaks from one side of a window to another.
You can be finalizing a job only to find that the towel you are using is shedding little lint fibers behind on windows and mirrors.
Glass shows every imperfection and missed spot.
Clean and Streak free glass can make or break the final appearance to an important customer.
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks, and proper techniques we have learned over the years to help make this thankless job easier.
We have designed easy to use towels and products that promote proper techniques and make glass cleaning easier and more efficient.
Unfortunately, there isnt one glass cleaning process that is superior to all others, nor is there one product that can do the job perfectly.
You have to match your preferred process and techniques with your favorite products.
Some detailers develop very specific and repeatable processes with very specific tools.
Others will use any old rag but have found a technique (and chemical) that makes the process easier.
Process & Techniques
Chemical Free Cleaning
With high quality towels it is possible to clean glass without any chemical cleaner. Water is all you need (as long as the glass isn’t too dirty).
It is best to use a two-towel method. One damp towel, to remove dirt, grime, and residue, and a clean, dry towel to remove residual moisture and streaks.
The overwhelming consensus of our customers and professional detailers we have talked with is that the [No Streak Freak] Waffle Weave Towel is the best for windows and glass.
The waffle pattern ridges wick up water and pull up dirt Streak free.
It is important (regardless of the chemicals or towels used) to make sure that your final wipe is with a clean towel section. A dirty, or over saturated towel will leave streaks.
The no-pile waffle pattern is lint free.
Mild Chemical Cleaning
American Detailer Garage (ADG) [Wipeout] is a phenomenal glass cleaner when diluted between 32:1 and 128:1.
Simply spray the glass surface, and wipe with a low pile microfiber towel. Follow up with a second towel to remove residual moisture and streaks.
Wipeout’s mild cleaners will cut through dirt and residue, while the lubricating polymers support the microfiber scrubbing action.
Cleaning with a ‘Glass Cleaning Chemical’
Some glass is so dirty or stained that you will need to use a stronger chemical.
Most glass cleaning chemical products are:
- Alcohol Based
- Ammonia Based
Alcohol based glass cleaners are solvents with strong cleaning action and fast evaporation to help prevent streaking. Ammonia based cleaners are stronger, but are not safe for tinted windows.
Sometimes glass is scratched or etched or has water spots and needs to be polished by machine.
Tips and Tricks
- Dirty and over saturated towels leave streaks. For this reason always use a clean dry towel for the final wipe.
- Final wipe the outside and inside of the window in perpendicular orientations. For example, vertical on the inside and horizontal on the inside (or vise versa). This way you will know which side of the glass the steaks are on (idea curtesy of Jimbo Baalam of the Auto Detailing Podcast)
- Wash you glass towels separate from other detailing towels - wheel towel, wax towels, coating towels.
Towels of the Trade
- Waffle Weave - This fiber orientation is great for glass because of the low pile and ridged pattern. The waffle ridges trap dirt as the glide across the glass surface like tiny windshield wipers.
- Smooth - This glass cleaning material has no pile, and very small ridges. It cleans lint and streak free. For some glass and with some cleaners this material can create extra friction.
- Diamond - This material is similar to the smooth glass fabric (low pile, small ridges) but there is a diamond pattern, which reduces overall surface area of the fibers which reduces friction, making the towel easier to wipe with.
- Twist - This material has long twisted loops. The long fibers increase overall microfiber which can clean the glass surface (leading to greater cleaning ability), but the twisted bundles reduce friction making it the easiest material to wipe with.
- Flip - Our microfiber car wash rags are pre-folded and sewn to make glass cleaning easier and more efficient. Since you always want to be wiping with a clean towel surface, the flip design makes it easy to get to a clean side by flipping the towel inside out. You can use each section like a mitt for better control. We have two versions: the [Glass Flip], which has 8 sides of waffle weave microfiber material, and the [Double Glass Flip] which has two sides each of waffle and twist, to flip between.