Best Car Glass Cleaners for Windshields and Windows, Tested


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Dec 25, 2023

Best Car Glass Cleaners for Windshields and Windows, Tested

Our car experts choose every product we feature. We may earn money from the

Our car experts choose every product we feature. We may earn money from the links on this page.

We tested 10 different glass cleaners to find out which one is the best for your automotive needs.

Cleaning your car windows might seem like an afterthought—after all, that's what wiper blades are for, right? Sort of. While keeping the outside of your windshield clean and clear is essential, you shouldn't forget about the side windows, the rear window, and the inside of the glass all around the car.

Cleaning your vehicle's glass will greatly improve visibility; you might be surprised to see the difference after one good wipe-down. And of course, clear vision has safety benefits too. But there are a ton of glass cleaners on the market, so which one works best?

Right off the bat, we'll tell you this: Using an ammonia-free glass cleaner is a must. Ammonia can break down window tint—especially the cheaper stuff—so if you're not a fan of the fishbowl look, stay away from ammonia. Most automotive glass cleaners are ammonia free and say so right on the bottle, but it's always a good idea to verify.

You'll also see ceramic glass cleaners pop up when searching around. These leave a hydrophobic film on your windshield that allows water droplets to slide right off, even to the degree where you don't need to use your wipers. While that sounds great, we found that it takes a bit more effort to properly apply, and there's no sense in using it on your other windows.

To find which product best cleans windows, we assembled 10 different cleaners and got to work. As we ran them through the Gear Team testing gauntlet, we determined which ones work best.

Glass can be a fickle thing. All it takes is a bit of rain or a dust-bunny-induced sneeze, and it's due for a cleaning. While this is frustrating, it made it easy for us to find properly grubby windows among the usually sparklingly clean Car and Driver fleet. We decided to use Eric Stafford's 1997 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, with its massive tinted rear glass, for our side-by-side test. Austin Irwin's Honda Civic Si also lent some windows.

We taped off 10 sections of the Camaro's large, dark rear glass and set to work. Our testing process was simple: liberally spray the section and wipe for 15 seconds with a clean microfiber towel. This gave us the opportunity to check each car glass cleaner for:

Comparing our detailed notes on these parameters allowed us to choose which glass cleaners were best and which fell short. Here are our top picks for the best automotive glass cleaners.

Tested: Best Car Interior Cleaners

This is our winner for the best overall: 3M Glass Cleaner. We loved the ease of use and control with the aerosol can, and a combination of cleaning power, speed, and dry feel rocketed this stuff to the top.

Using the can was easy, as the cleaner sprayed out and foamed instantaneously on the window. There were some minor streaks in the first few seconds of wiping, but they evaporated quickly.

3M left behind a slightly grippy dry feel, but that was better than every other non-ceramic option. It's safe on tint and easy to use. This is the product to get, and that's why it's our best overall automotive glass cleaner.

We loved this stuff so much we cleaned the entire rear window with it after our testing was done.

Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner comes in second in our test and is a fantastic option if aerosol cans aren't your thing. We noted the streak-free cleaning performance and bottle ergonomics as the top perks.

There wasn't any residue left behind, and the picture below really showcases its cleaning power. The only thing holding it back from being top dog was a grippier dry feel than the 3M; this grip will grab onto dust and dirt a bit easier and shorten the longevity of the clean look.

But for a quick, powerful glass-cleaning product, this is a very solid option.

The cleaning power of this stuff is obvious.

On to the ceramics: This Rain-X Cerami-X Glass Cleaner features the twin aspects you want in a ceramic glass cleaner. It lifts and removes dirt and grime while leaving behind a hydrophobic ceramic coating to repel water droplets.

We were impressed by the dry feel; it felt impeccably smooth without any grip, allowing water to bead right off. It's at a nice price point too.

However, be aware that you might need some extra effort as you wipe. We had to perform two spray-and-wipe cycles with some heavy-handed pressure to get true clarity. In the picture below, you can see some slight haze to the left side after the first cycle.

But for the price and dry feel, this is the best ceramic glass cleaner we tested.

There's still a bit of haze on the left side of our test area—which would inevitably come up with more wiping—but our test parameters were kept equal across all products.

For the best bargain deal, the Rain-X Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent is the way to go. While this might seem like a ceramic glass cleaner, it isn't. However, it does act like it.

This stuff contains Rain-X's famous water-beading technology found on its wiper blades. It's not a ceramic coating, but it's close. We were impressed by the dry feel and price point, but it took some extra time to eliminate all of the haze.

For a budget option that cleans well and offers some level of water repellence, you can't go wrong with this.

A little bit of haze is visible toward the bottom; it went away after a second cleaning cycle.

Griot's Garage Ceramic Glass Cleaner comes in as an honorable mention. We enjoyed the cleaning power and dry feel.

The oddly shaped spray bottle is ergonomically a little funky, which could get annoying after extended use. The ceramic coating felt smoother than non-ceramics, but not as glossy as the Rain-X ceramic above. It also required a second cleaning cycle to achieve perfect clarity.

It's not the top ceramic glass cleaner, but a decent option nonetheless. It's fairly affordable too, so if you like the brand it's still worth the purchase.

Some smudges remained after our first cleaning pass.

Invisible Glass performed quite well against the dirt and grime, removing it quickly and effectively. We liked the large spray pattern and the lack of streaks.

However, the dry feel was concerning, as it was one of the grippiest of the bunch. For show cars, this might not be a bad option; it'll get your windows clean in a jiffy. But for daily drivers, they'll get dirty again nearly as fast.

It removed nearly all of the grime from the window, but the grippy dry feel was concerning.

Chemical Guys Streak Free fell a bit short in our testing. We were concerned with the cleaning power when it left some grime behind after the first cleaning cycle. There were streaks, but they evaporated quickly, and a slight grip was felt when dry. We were surprised by an underwhelming performance from this popular brand.

Seemed to leave behind some grime that other cleaners would take off with ease.

CARPRO Clarify glass cleaner has sleek, contemporary packaging—but seems to be priced higher than its performance. It cleaned decently but left behind some light spots, as seen in the photo below. The grippy dry feel was a strike against it too. For the price, we can't recommend it.

Some undesirable faint spots remained after cleaning.

We wanted to add Windex to the fray because, why not? It's the most popular window cleaner on the planet. (For those considering it for automotive use, be advised that plain Windex contains ammonia and is NOT recommended for use on tinted windows.)

While this may be a household favorite, its performance against car window grime was poor, especially when compared to the purpose-made competition. Many spots remained, and the glass felt grippy once dry.

Use it around the house, by all means. (Although we'd think twice if we lived in a place such as Arizona or Nevada, where homes commonly have tinted windows.) But for the car? Forget it.

You can easily see spots and grime on the bottom left after use—not worth the risk.

Armor All Glass Wipes boast great convenience but poor performance. As you can see in the before-and-after photo below, a nice juicy streak was left behind and refused to evaporate. There's no point in trying to clean windows if the product leaves behind streaks, so we'd steer clear of these.

It's like a giant snail left a trail of yuck along the rear window.

Collin Morgan is an Associate Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where the former Rust Belt mechanic and gadget enthusiast presents the best gear for your automotive endeavors.

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3M Glass Cleaner Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner Rain-X Cerami-X Glass Cleaner Rain-X Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent Griot's Garage Ceramic Glass Cleaner Invisible Glass Chemical Guys Streak Free CARPRO Clarify Windex Armor All Glass Wipes