Clean Tinted Car Windows

Cleaning tinted windows is a simple process as long as you know what to avoid. You’ll likely be able to clean your tinted windows using household products, but you’ll need to stay away from any cleaners that have ammonia, like most kinds of normal window cleaners.[1] You'll also want to use soft cloths when cleaning and drying your tinting. This will protect it from damage and keep it looking like new.


Prepping Your Tinted Windows for Washing

  1. Park your car in the shade while cleaning. Parking in the sun can cause your cleaning agents to dry out quickly, making it difficult for you to spread, soap up, rinse, and dry off your car cleaners. This can lead to spots forming or an incomplete looking cleaning job. Many car washing pros recommend parking in a garage, but if this is not available to you, look for a suitable tree or overhang you can park beneath so you can work in the shade.
    • You shouldn’t settle for the shade provided by any tree. Some trees, like pines, exude a sticky sap that can do damage to the finish your vehicle if it comes in contact with it. Inspect trees before parking beneath them. If you notice the presence of sap, or if the ground beneath the tree is discolored, this could be indication that you shouldn’t park your car there.[2]
  2. Wait to clean your windows last. Windows are one of the most visible parts on your car, and accidentally spraying, splattering, or spreading dirtiness while cleaning other parts of your vehicle could lead to your window, and your tinting, becoming unnecessarily dirty again. You’ll want to clean the exterior and interior of your car thoroughly before you tackle cleaning your windows and the tinting on your windows.
    • If you’re getting ready to sell your car, you may want to do a more thorough job cleaning your car. This kind of deep cleaning is often referred to as “detailing.” You can save money by detailing your car yourself, but you can also visit a local car detailer and have your vehicle cleaned by professionals for a small fee.
    • While cleaning the other parts of your car, take note of the condition of your windows and tinting. You may want to heavily apply your tint-safe cleaner to especially dirty areas before you start cleaning. This will allow the cleaner to pre-treat difficult spots, like bug spatter, layered dirt, or thick grime, making your future cleaning efforts easier.
    • Try not to get cleaners intended for other parts of your car on the inside of your window. The tinting that has been applied to your windows has most probably been attached to the inside, so if the ammonia based cleaner you’re using safely on the outside of the window spatters onto the tinting on the inside, the ammonia could cause damage to your tint.[3][4]
  3. Identify the enemies of window tint. Knowing what products are bad for your tinting will help prevent you from accidentally doing damage to it or reducing its life. Tinting is almost always applied to the inside of your window, so that’s most likely where you’ll have to baby your tinting. Ammonia based products can reduce the darkness of your tint or cause its material to become dry, brittle, or otherwise imperfect. You should also avoid any drying or scrubbing products that are abrasive, including paper towels, newspapers, and scouring pads.
    • People often use a sharp edge, like a razor blade, to smooth out the bubbles or irregularities in protective covers that similar to your window tinting. However, this can cause lines and other imperfections in your tint. To chase bubbles to the edge of your tint, use a credit card wrapped in a soft cloth, like a microfiber cloth, or use a pin to puncture the hole and release the air trapped beneath the window tint.[4][5]

Using a Tint Safe Cleaning Process

  1. Gather your tint cleaning supplies. The material your window tint is made of, which in most instances is a kind of plastic called Mylar, is more prone to scratches and “chips,” which are places where the tinting is deformed by physical force. You’ll need to use gentler cleaning products on your tinting to preserve it, and under no circumstances should you use a cleaner with ammonia in it. Ammonia will fade your tinting and severely reduce its life. For this job you’ll need:
    • Ammonia-free cleaner
    • Bucket (optional)
    • Microfiber cloth (2)
    • Distilled water (optional)[6]
  2. Spray your ammonia-free cleaner and wipe away dirtiness. It's perfectly alright to use an ammonia based cleaner on the outside of your windows where there is no tinting, but even drips or spatter of ammonia based cleaner can harm your tint. An ammonia-free cleaner, on the other hand, can be used on both tinted and untinted sides of your window. At minimum, you'll have to use an ammonia-free cleaner on the tinted area of your car.
    • If you are using a liquid based cleaner, you’ll most likely need to prepare your cleaner in a bucket of water, though you should follow the directions that came with your cleaner for best results. Using only one of your two microfiber cloths, you should apply liquid cleaner and wipe away the dirtiness on your tinting.
    • Keep your two microfiber cloths separate. One cloth should be used for wiping away dirt and grime, and the other for drying. Once you have wiped your window clean with one cloth, you should use your clean, dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture on the surface of your tint.
    • Try not to saturate the edges of the tinting with your cleaner. If cleaner gets underneath your tinting, it could result in it losing stickiness and peeling away from the window. Dampen the microfiber cloth you have designated for cleaning with cleaner and then wipe it along the edges of the tinting to safely clean it. Then follow up with your drying cloth to prevent cleaner from seeping under the edge.
    • You may want to wipe the tinting with strokes that are opposite to what you used on the outside of the window. For example, if you’ve wiped the outside of the window clean in a vertical fashion, you should wipe the inside in a horizontal fashion. This will make it easier for you to see where missed spots are located.[3]
    • You may have to allow your cleaner to set on particularly difficult stains. Things like bug-spatter can be difficult to remove, but you can loosen the hold of difficult blemishes by soaking these for a few minutes in cleaner.[6]
  3. Use a bucket filled with water for extremely dirty tinting. There are many factors that could contribute to the dirtiness of your tinting. You might accumulate grime on it from driving long distances for work, or it could have built up over time from your off-roading adventures. Whatever the case, if your tinting is especially dirty, you’ll likely have to rinse the microfiber cloth you’re using for cleaning in a bucket to keep it from spreading around dirt. When you notice your cleaning cloth getting dirty, rinse it in the bucket to release dirt from the cloth into the water and wring out the cloth until it is damp. Then continue cleaning as normal.
    • If your home has hard water, you’ll want to use distilled water instead of facet water. Hard water leaves behind white colored scale and calcified spots on surfaces. Simple buy a gallon of distilled water from your local grocery store and put it into your bucket to use for rinsing your cloth.[7][8]
  4. Correct deformities and irregularities in your tinting. Bubbles beneath your tinting are unsightly and can ruin its seamless appearance. Using your fingers and nails to herd the bubble to the nearest edge is a useful tactic, but your nails can sometimes do visible damage to the tinting. To prevent these marks, you should use a credit card wrapped in a soft cloth, like a microfiber cloth, to chase bubbles to edges where the air can be released.
    • Bubbles under your tinting that are especially resistant to your efforts to herd toward an edge can be resolved with a needle. Use a fine-point needle to lance the bubble and release the air trapped under your tinting. This may create small ripples or wrinkles in the tinting from where the air stretched it. You should take a credit card wrapped in a soft cloth, like a microfiber cloth, and smooth these inconsistencies as best you can.[9]

Making Your Own Tint Safe Cleaner

  1. Gather your ingredients. Most ammonia-free cleaning agents make use of a gentle or mild soap, like baby soap, water, and a disinfecting agent, like alcohol. These are the three main components that will make up your ammonia-free, tint safe cleaner. You should also use distilled water when mixing your cleaner, as it has been filtered of impurities, like calcium and lime, that could leave spots, streaks, or other buildup on your tint. These products can most likely be bought from the home goods or cleaning supply section of your local grocery store. All in all, you’ll need:[8][7]
    • Baby soap (a generic brand is OK)
    • Distilled water
    • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (91% is preferred, but lower percentage is also OK)
    • Spray bottle[10]
  2. Mix your tint safe cleaner. Take your empty spray bottle and rinse it to clean out any dust or residue from anything previously used in it. Then add 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to the spray bottle along with a few drops of your baby soap. Now you can fill up your spray bottle with distilled water, screw on the cap, and swirl the contents to ensure a thorough mix.
    • The alcohol in your cleaner, besides safely disinfecting the surface of your tint, will also help your cleaner to evaporate quickly and streak free. Alcohol also helps to dissolve grease and oils, like the kind that causes fingerprints, from the window.
    • These ingredients have a relatively long shelf life and can be used to make large quantities of your ammonia-free cleaner. By making your own cleaner, you can save a significant amount of money while achieving the same results as you would with a store bought brand.[10]
  3. Apply your homemade cleaner liberally to tinted surfaces for cleaning. You may want to allow areas of your tinting that are particularly dirty to soak in the cleaner for a while. Just spray a heavy mist where the tinting looks dirtiest and allow it to sit for about five minutes. Be careful with your cleaner around the edges of your tinting. Allowing your cleaner to sit on the edge can lead to it seeping under the tinting, which could cause peeling, bubbling, or a shorter life for it.
    • You should use a two microfiber cloth system when cleaning your windows. The first cloth you use, the cleaning cloth, will be used to scrub away and wipe grime, dust, grease, oil, and so on, from the window. You may need to rinse this cloth at some point in a bucket if it becomes too dirty. Continuing to wipe with a dirty rag can lead to you just spreading the dirtiness on your tinting around. The second cloth will dry any remaining moisture on the tinting after it is clean.
    • You may have to allow your cleaner to soak into difficult stains. The protein of bug-splatter can make these especially difficult to remove. Spray a concentrated mist onto the difficult blemish until it looks thoroughly wet. Allow that to sit for about five minutes, then try to wipe the stain free. Repeat this process several times if the first attempt fails.[6]
    • Protect the already clean parts of your car from drips by applying your cleaner in small to moderate amounts. Dampen your cleaning cloth and firmly wipe your tint. This will decrease the formation of drips and drops. You can also hold your drying towel at the ready when using your dampened cleaning cloth. This way, if any droplets drizzle toward the already cleaned body of your car, you can wipe them away.
  4. Check for and spot clean missed spots. Look at your car windows from inside and check for missed spots. Some will be difficult to see up close. Take a few steps back, change your viewing angle, and find any spots you’ve missed on the outside or inside of your windows. When you see a spot on the inside, take your ammonia-free cleaner a spritz some of it onto your cleaning cloth to damp it. Wipe the spot firmly with your cleaning cloth and then dry and buff the tint with your drying cloth. When all the spots are gone from your windows, your job is done.[3]


  • If tint is heavily scratched or beginning to bubble, this may be a sign that you need to have tint reapplied to your windows.
  • Use distilled water for cleaning your car and tinting if you know your home has hard water. Hard water causes spots and buildup, and cleaning with hard water can result in these forming on your car and tinting. Distilled water is filtered of impurities, which means this will not happen.


  • Using ammonia based products on tinted windows has a high likelihood of causing your tint to fade and/or deform. Always check the cleaner you are using for ammonia before using it on your tinted windows.
  • Do not disturb the edges of the tint. Water or glass cleaner here could cause peeling or deformation.
  • Using coarse materials to clean your tint, like paper towel, newspaper, or scrubbing pads, can result in your tint becoming damaged.[4]

Things You'll Need

Cleaning Your Tinted Windows

  • Ammonia-free cleaner
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Microfiber cloth (2)
  • Distilled water (optional)

Making Your Own Tint Safe Cleaner

  • Baby soap (generic brand OK)
  • Distilled water
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (91% preferred, lower percentage OK)
  • Spray bottle

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Sources and Citations