Do-It-Yourself, Tint-Safe Window and Glass Cleaning Solution & Techniques
In my almost decade long career as a window film specialist, if there is one thing I know how to do, it is clean windows.
Not long into my career was I taught the value in making sure windows and panels were as streak-free as possible. Over the years, I've learned for myself and through others and have accumulated a few different techniques into an easy to learn, quick, and effective system that has worked great for us at our shop. I would like to share this system with anyone else who wants to learn. Whether a pro in field or a DIYer, continue reading if you want to quickly learn how to effectively clean your windows with a homemade solution and/or easily remove decals and its adhesive.
Below is a recommended supply list for the techniques I'm going to share. Many of these things are already found in most homes and businesses and will easily last someone a year or more if they were to designate them to window cleaning.
-Spray bottle - $5 or less - It doesn't have to be fancy; it just needs to work. But, keep your usage in mind. You get what you pay for, so if you know you'll use it more, then investing a little more will be worth it. I recommend Zep's yellow handle with blue trigger or Spray Master's silver bottle and handle with blue trigger
-Rubbing alcohol - $2 - $3 - You can usually find this in 71% or 91%. We use 91% due to our usage, but either or is good.
-Dish soap - $3 - Ultra Joy is what we use with our film installations, but you can use anything you already have at home or in the shop. None of them will harm glass or film, but some do work better than others for breaking up residues and buildup. Dawn Ultra is another good one.
-#0000 Steel Wool - $3 - A pack spreads FAR...
-White or blue scrub pads - Something abrasive, but not as abrasive as the green pads you normally see.
-1" Razor Blades - $1 - A small five pack will due or spend $6-$8 for 100
-6" Squeegee setup - $5 - $6 - Not a necessity, but definitely a time and towel saver. Bigger setups cost more, but they are worth it depending on your need.
-Regular microfiber towels - $5 - $15 (depending on quantity and location)
-Lint free microfiber towels - $1 - $5 - Auto Zone sells green ones in a pair for $5, which are decent and will last awhile. Or, find your local janitorial supply company and they have better ones that last longer for about $1 a piece. These are what we use.
-(or) Quality paper towels - $1 - $2 per roll - Viva or Bounty or anything soft that won't scratch film, but I recommend using the regular and lint free towels the way I will show you. I'm no fan of throwing money away, and with paper towels, you're doing just that.
So, basically, the average DIY car caregiver and/or house cleaner could invest about $25 - $30 to get set up from scratch and have their windows streak free like a pro. You could even invest a little more and get poles that extend and scrubbers for the panes you can't reach on your house. And, as said before, these things could last a year or more if designated only for glass cleaning. We use them all day everyday and far more than most, and we get significant use out of everything on this list.
Mixing Your Solution:
This is not an exact science, but I have figured out roundabout measurements that can be played with. It's super simple, about $0.15 a bottle, and will do just as good as anything you buy over the counter, or better. It is also what we use to install window film.
-Fill bottle with water to bottom of the neck.
-Add 10 drops of your favorite dish soap.
-Add 1-2 tablespoons of alcohol. (Or, as I say, slosh a little in there.)
Like I said, super simple, and it can be adjusted as needed for dirt levels and climate. The soap acts as a degreaser, so it will remove tar, dog nose slobber, and your niece's Picasso rendition with finger paint made out of last nights dinner. The alcohol acts as a drying agent, which evaporates the water and soap molecules quickly, leaving it disinfected and streak free. If it's not cutting through the buildup, then add a few more drops of soap and a slosh more alcohol until you find what you are looking for. You want to try and get the solution to create a white foamy look with the bubbles when sprayed, but not always necessary or achievable.
Procedure for Vehicles:
1) Spray the outside of the windows with the solution and wipe away excessive and loose dirt with a regular microfiber cloth.
2) Evenly spray over the outside of the windows again and scrub them with #0000 steel wool. You don't need a full piece, so unfold it a time or two (about 6" worth) and pull it apart. Fold the torn off piece back in half, and it's good to go until it rusts a few hours later. KEEP THE WOOL OFF THE PAINT, AS-3 GLASS (factory tint), AND AFTERMARKET FILMS. Only use on the exterior of a pane with aftermarket tint. It can scratch the other things listed above as well, so be mindful. Use your white or blue scrub pad or microfiber cloth on factory tinted glass and any other windows you are concerned with scratching.
3) Mist over scrubbed areas with solution and squeegee the solution off the glass pulling the squeegee from one side to the other and working from top to bottom. If there is anything left stuck on the glass, spray and scrub again, or you can scrub/scrape with a blade each individual spot
4) Wipe off any leftover solution and streaks with a lint-free microfiber cloth. These work really well as long as they are not filthy or soaked. That is why we only use them to "polish up" after using regular microfibers or squeegees. The towel will last longer from window to window.
5) On the film side of glass with aftermarket film, use only a regular microfiber to scrub with solution, squeegee and then use a lint free towel to polish. Window film/tint has a scratch resistant coating that makes it easy to get off most gunk, so scrubbing with steel wool or a scrub pad is unnecessary. The use of abrasive materials will also cause scratching to that scratch resistant coating.
For Home and Business Windows:
Same as vehicles only remove steel wool all together unless absolutely necessary.
1) Spray glass with solution and wipe down with regular microfiber
2) Mist the glass and squeegee from top to bottom
3) Wipe away solution from frames with a regular microfiber
4) Wipe away streaks and excess solution from glass with a lint-free microfiber
I hope this blog serves you well, as it is my first of many. Every day customers ask what we use for cleaner and how, and I figured it was high time I gave them a place to find out how. Regardless if you're a current or future client or someone across the world just looking for information about cleaning windows, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us however is convenient for you. -Thank You!