Tinted car windows are great at ensuring your privacy, reducing glare while you drive, and keeping UV damage from fading your interior, but they also come with a few extra cleaning steps. If your tinted windows are a part of the car itself (provided by the manufacturer and built into the glass), then you can clean them much the same way you would any other car window. If, however, they’re an aftermarket addition or applied film, then you need to take precautions.
(In cases where you aren’t sure which kind of tint you have, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.)
Materials for Cleaning Tinted Windows
As is the case with almost all car cleaning tips, your best bet is microfiber fabric. This material is absorbent and unlikely to cause any scratching or damage, making it ideal for almost all surfaces—glass included.
You’ll also want to find a glass cleaner that is ammonia-free. Ammonia will degrade the tint over time, causing it to become less effective and build up blotchy spots. (In fact, many tint removers use ammonia as a base, which proves how damaging it can be.)
How to Clean Tinted Windows
Once you find a cleaner you like, you’re free to wash the windows much as you would in any other car—with one exception. The first place tint films tend to weaken are along the edges, where they can lift, bubble, and crack. Applying a cleaner at these edges will only make things worse, since the liquid can work underneath the tint film and start to pull it away from the window. Therefore, it’s best to avoid washing the edges with anything but a dry microfiber cloth. Keep the cleaner to the center, and always work from the center out.
Gentle pressure is your best friend while cleaning tinted windows. Don’t scrub too hard, but don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease in, either. You’ll get a better clean by using less cleaning product and more exertion on your part.
Long-Term Tinted Window Care
In order to protect your investment, always attend to bubbles, cracking, or damage to your tinted windows right away—and if you do see damages starting to appear, put off the cleaning for now. It’s best to get the windows repaired first and then start a newer, safer car care routine once everything is looking its best.