STICKY handprints, dogs’ noses, dead bugs — there are plenty of things that can make your vehicle’s windows grubby, meaning it’s important to know where to get the best glass cleaner.
Dirty marks are especially noticeable on your car glass in the summer months, when light shines through the windows to reveal all kinds of smears and patches of dust.
Removing marks not only makes your car look more polished, but improves visibility, making driving safer.
As we’ll explain further down this page, it’s not advisable to use household cleaners to clean the glass surfaces of your car. That means that you should be buying a glass cleaner especially for your motor — here are some of the best.
Autoglym car glass polish
- Autoglym Car Glass Polish, £5.78 – buy here
Autoglym is the car care company of choice of the Queen, and while Her Majesty has not yet been sighted in the yard of Buckingham Palace polishing the windows of the Golden State Coach, that still gives an indication of its position as a company.
Autoglym’s Car Glass Polish is far and away the best product we used for getting windows sparkling like one of the Queen’s brooches. It's usually priced at a fairly steep £8.10, but Amazon sells it at 29% off, making it just £5.78.
Application is also a little more strenuous than some other products, but worth it – first, you apply the creamy product in small circular motions to create a thin layer on the window, before buffing it off with a microfibre cloth. The result is streak-free and stunning.
Autoglym Fast Glass
- Autoglym Fast Glass, £9.50 – buy here
Autoglym Fast Glass has been around for a long time now, and is generally regarded as one of the best about.
It can be used on all glass surfaces in your car, including touchscreens and sat navs — although for those types of surfaces, it’s better to spray onto a cloth and then wipe, rather than spraying directly onto the screen itself.
It’s the best spray-and-wipe product we tested, leaving shining results with minimal effort. However, it’s not cheap, costing around £9 a pop.
Rain-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner and Rain Repellant
- Rain-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner & Rain Repellent, £7.99 – buy here
Many people have been in situations where their ageing wiper blades simply can’t repel water fast enough. While this situation may also call for replacing your wiper blades, it can’t hurt to give them a hand by applying a rain-repellent layer to your windshield with this product.
When we reviewed Rain-X’s product, we were hampered by a bout of sunny weather, but we persevered and threw a bucket of water over the windshield before and after applying it.
The results were stark: before application, the water simply settled on the windscreen before feebly dripping away. After, the water beaded and dripped off in a matter of seconds.
Rain-X also points out that the product can be used on the glass in a shower to help repel water and soap build up. We tried that too, and it does indeed work. And priced at only £5, this one is amazing value for money.
Astonish Fog-Repellant Glass Cleaner
- Astonish Anti-Fog Glass Cleaner, £5.20 – buy here
This isn’t necessarily the time of year to be thinking about a fog-repellant glass cleaner, but in the winter months Astonish’s Fog-repellant glass cleaner is very effective in staving off one of the most distracting elements of driving — fogged up windows, which occur when the warm air in a car hits a cold window.
While you can direct air at the window to help clear the fog, many drivers will know how hard driving gets if your blowers cut out.
We also used it on our glasses, which made seeing much easier in situations including wearing a facemask, or attempting to watch Line of Duty in a very hot bath. However, you shouldn’t do this if your glasses have a protective coating on them.
Like the Rain-X, this product serves two functions, yet is priced very reasonably at just £5.20.
McLaren Glass Cleaner
- McLaren Glass Cleaner, £8.99 – buy here
We can’t promise that using McLaren’s official glass cleaner will give you the driving instincts of Daniel Ricciardo or turn your motor into a 200mph monster.
However, packaged in a bottle designed in McLaren’s iconic Papaya Orange — the same colour as its F1 car — it’ll no doubt take pride of place on your garage shelf.
The allure of McLaren’s car detailing products might stem mostly from the fact that they bear the McLaren logo, and are advertised using photographs of pitlane engineers cleaning the team's race cars with them, but it’s a good product, too: application was easy, and the cleaner dried quickly without leaving any streaks.
After all, you don’t come third in the 2020 F1 Constructors Championship without nailing the basics.
Auto Finesse Crystal Glass Cleaner
- Auto Finesse Crystal Glass Cleaner, £10.75 – buy here
Auto Finesse claims that its Crystal Glass Cleaner sets “a new standard for optical clarity”, thanks to the fact that it’s designed by professional car detailers.
That’s a big claim, but the product really does follow through: it leaves a glistening, streak-free finish — as good as the results you get from the Autoglym.
It’s highly concentrated, which means that a little goes a long way, but that also results in a strong chemical smell. And at £10.95 for 500ml, it’s even more expensive than the already-pricey Autoglym.
However, Auto Finesse makes reassurances that its glass cleaner can be used on all glass surfaces of all cars, including mirrors and high-performance vehicles with tinted glass.
What is the best way to clean car windows?
Cleaning your car windows should be the last thing you do after washing your car, meaning you shouldn’t be dealing with too many large bits of dirt, bird poo or dead bugs by the time you get round to cleaning them.
Roll down your windows slightly before you polish them, so that you can clean the top inch of glass, which is usually covered by the seal. Make sure not to spray glass cleaner through your window onto the car interior, though.
When cleaning the outside of the car, spray directly onto the glass, and wipe using both horizontal and vertical motions, in order to prevent streaks. Then, using a different, microfibre cloth, buff the window until it’s gleaming.
When cleaning the inside of your car, use a different cloth to the one you use for exterior glass. Instead of spraying directly onto the surface, spray into the cloth — if you spray directly onto the glass, some will inevitably go on the other surfaces, causing stains.
Can I use a household glass cleaner on my car?
When cleaning your car’s glass surfaces, we would recommend using a product that is specially designed for automotive use. Household cleaners have a different composition to car glass cleaners because car glass is exposed to a lot more nastiness than most household glass, and they can leave unsightly streaks.
It’s also important to note that many household glass cleaners contain ammonia, which is not only bad for some of the surfaces in your car like vinyl and leather, but is harmful to human health. Ammonia can also be detrimental to tinted windows.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best car glass cleaners? You might be interested in our roundup of the best home steam cleaners.
We've also compiled a guide on choosing the best tyres for your car.
Head to Sun Selects to help you find the best products without breaking the bank.
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