Remove Window Tint

All car window film deteriorates with age and has to be removed. Two of the most common symptoms of dying film are the dreaded "purple film" and the "bubbling film". Purple film is caused by non-metallic dyes in the film breaking down and changing color. Bubbling film is a sign that the adhesive used to apply the tint to the window is failing. After a single bubble appears, many more will follow. If you attempt to remove the window tint simply by peeling, you'll probably end up with a sticky mess on the glass that will take several hours to scrape. Here is how to prevent this from happening.


Sun and Ammonia

This technique requires a sunny day. If you live in an area where it's too cloudy to heat the rear window, consider alternative techniques below.

  1. Cut two black garbage bags in roughly the shape of the window. Spray soapy water on the outside of the window and cover it with one of the black trash bags. Smooth the plastic flat.
  2. Protect all inside surfaces near the window with a tarp: speakers, rear light, and upholstered surfaces, then spray]] or wear a face mask. Ammonia fumes can be harmful and different individuals will respond differently to exposure to the fumes.
  3. While the ammonia is still wet, trap the ammonia against the window film with another trash bag or plastic wrap.constructed of multiple layers of film. When left under the hot sun, the garbage bags will absorb heat, helping the film peel off in one piece.
  4. Start peeling the window film. Use your fingernail or razor blade to lift the window film in a corner of the window, and try to peel the film off in one entire piece. Be careful not to cut the defroster lines. Keep the tint moist with ammonia as you strip. Use a razor blade to scrape off any tint that did not peel.
  5. Remove any residual adhesive with ammonia and very fine steel wool, then wipe the surface with a paper towel before it dries. Remove the exterior trash bag, and clean the window thoroughly with glass cleaner.


This is possibly the easiest, quickest method to remove window tint.

  1. Purchase a fabric steamer, it will run you 20-30 dollars but save you so much time!
  2. Fill, turn on, steam your window.
  3. After a while steaming, the glue will melt and the tint will peel off like cellophane.
  4. Once the tint is removed, use something like goof off, goo gone, or another adhesive remover and wipe clean.

Soap, Newspaper and Easy Off

  1. Apply soapy detergent water to the window with a household sponge, and cover with newspaper. Leave for about an hour (whilst the paper is up, reapply the soapy water to the paper every 20 minutes or so to keep the moisture seeping through).
  2. With a razor blade appliance from the hardware store, simply scrape off the top layer of the tint film with long strokes. Just simply reapply the soapy about half an hour if the top layer doesn't come off in long strips.
  3. Simply rub the razor blade over the tint. It just comes off without any effort at all. It should come off as your spray it, without any scraping whatsoever from you.


If it's not sunny or warm enough, or you'd prefer not to mess with razor blades and ammonia, you can use a clothing steamer (approx. US$25) to "prep" the tint for peeling.[1] You can also use a hair dryer or heat gun, but be conservative. It will produce more heat than the steamer.

  1. Steam a corner of tint, holding the steamer 1/2-2 inches (1.25-5 cm) away from it, until you can pick it off with your fingernail.
  2. Peel and steam at the same time, loosening the glue with the steam right before you peel. Peel slowly. If you pull too hard, you may break the tint or worse, peel off the top layer of the tint, leaving the difficult and sticky adhesive layer behind.
  3. Wipe off remaining glue with a towel. Press hard so that the glue sticks to the towel, rather than balling up or smearing. Steaming the glue before wiping can help.
  4. Clean the window thoroughly with glass cleaner.

Soaking and Scraping

If you're unable to use the other methods, or if there is a small area of tint, this method can be used (although it is time-consuming).

  1. Make a small cut in the film with a razor blade, creating a tab which you can pull.
  2. Peel the tint. It won't come off neatly; you may find it tearing or separating into several pieces.
  3. Spray the adhesive with soapy water.
  4. Scrape the adhesive off with the razor blade. Be sure to get it all.
  5. Clean the window thoroughly with glass cleaner.


  • When scraping with the razor blade, you may find it becoming blunt. You'll probably need several to get the job done.
  • When removing tint film that's near defroster (or antenna) lines, use duct tape to lift the film instead of scraping with the razor blade. If there's sticky residue, use ammonia or Windex to remove it with an old towel.
  • Try a heat lamp or flood lamp (such as a 500W painter's lamp) for heat, instead. Keep the lamp about 12-18 inches (30.5-45.5 cm) from the outside of the glass. Keep the tint side wet with the ammonia and covered with the plastic sheet while heating it with the lamp. Heat it for 30-45 minutes and try to get the tint to come off in one piece. The residual glue can usually be scraped with a non-carbon steel razor blade while keeping it wet with warm, soapy water.


  • Never scrape across defroster lines, scrape next to as with the grain. Even cleaning with a towel across the lines can remove enough of the conductor to cause them to not work.
  • There is a chance you'll permanently damage defroster lines in the rear window (and perhaps the radio antenna, as it is made of the similar material). If the lines are damaged, they can be repaired with conductive paint. Difficult, but possible.
  • If you are not careful with the razor blade you can cut yourself or scratch the window.

Things You'll Need

  • Black trash bags
  • Ammonia (undiluted)
  • Very fine steel wool
  • Razor blade or sharp knife
  • Glass cleaner
  • Steamer or hair dryer (if using the steaming method)

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Sources and Citations