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Essential Tips for Keeping Your Windshield Clear

woman struggling to scrape ice from windshield
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With car windshields, it’s vitally important to keep the glass clean. Reduced visibility due to dirt, ice, fogginess, and other issues is a major problem, especially if you’re driving in low-light conditions.

Ideally, caring for the windshield, as well as the other windows in your vehicle, should be a part of your car maintenance routine. If you’re starting out with a problem windshield, here’s how to fix common issues.

Dirty Windshield

Let’s start with the easiest issue. If the outside of your windshield is covered in bugs, mud, bird droppings, or tree sap, clean it up! The free squeegees at the gas pump are a good option on the go. If you want a sparkling clean, then glass cleaner formulated for vehicles and a microfiber cloth will do the trick.

Avoid gimmicky cleaning hacks. Stick with tested auto glass cleaners and microfiber. Keep in mind that the longer certain types of grime remains on your vehicle, the harder it may be to clean off. Regular cleaning is key.

Foggy Windshield

Foggy windows make it very hard to see, and it can be quite frustrating to keep clearing them every time you drive. What causes chronic fogginess?

Anytime that the air is warmer and more humid inside your car than out, you’re going to get fog on the interior. In the summer, you may have the opposite problem with the exterior glass fogging up. Luckily, you can simply use your wipers to fix that issue. Interior fog is trickier, but not impossible, to deal with.

It could be that you’re using the “recirculate” setting on your car’s A/C system. Make sure that you’re getting fresh air instead. Crack a window to help normalize the humidity. Try not to get into the car with wet clothing and shoes; shake off snow and rain before you enter. Keep a couple of lint-free cloths in the glove compartment for clearing condensation. You can also use your defroster setting to evaporate the moisture.

Icy Windshield

For some reason, many drivers seem to think that the best way to clear an icy windshield is to blast the hottest defrost possible and merely wait. Maybe they’ll flick their wipers, too.

Idling is a waste of gas and bad for the environment! Be prepared for ice and snow on your vehicle, even if you live in an area where winter weather is usually milder. A simple, sturdy brush and scraper with enough reach will clear your windshield in no time. Make sure to pack water-resistant gloves with the scraper to protect your hands.

The defroster exists to prevent ice from building up on your car while you drive in inclement weather. Make sure that it’s turned on if you’re driving in freezing rain or snow. And this should go without saying, but if you spray your windshield with wiper fluid when it’s below freezing, you’re just going to ice up the glass.

Streaky Windshield

This is an issue I’ve been dealing with myself. The inside of my windshield seems to be a streaky mess no matter what I do! I tried the newspaper trick, as well as vinegar and a microfiber cloth. I’ve even tried using the cloth I clean my glasses with, to no avail.

The inside of the windshield is sensitive to smudges from fingers or pet noses. The glass can also develop a film as plastic and vinyl component off-gas–and the car’s passengers exhale.

To clean the glass, start with a wipe down using a dry microfiber cloth. Then spray the cloth with auto glass cleaner and rub in a circular motion. Finally, use a fresh cloth and a little bit of rubbing alcohol to clean any reside in long, vertical strokes.

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