The inside of my windshield has a thin layer of grime. When the light hits it a certain way, it drastically reduces my visibility.

I have used glass cleaner with clean microfiber car cloths and paper towels, but it doesn't seem to clean the windows, just smear the grime around. The grime has survived multiple such cleanings.

How can I effectively remove the grime from interior side of my windshield in order to restore visibility?

  • 1
    Try dry paper towels. Worked for me. (BTW, my understanding is that this grime is condensed from the outgassings of the upholstery.) Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 0:25
  • My best cleanign success is with ammonia. I hate the smell though and often try to fall back to a microfiber towel with warm water and alcohol. Still, ammonia (and gloves and air afterwards) works best.
    – Hennes
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 0:35
  • 6
    Is there a sweet smell? If the 'grime' keeps recurring, it could be leaking coolant from your heater core.
    – George
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 1:16
  • A picture would be nice here. Do you know what the source of the grime is?
    – Zaid
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 2:23
  • @Zaid I don't think I could get a picture. The grime is pretty much invisible except for when driving towards the sun when it's only slightly above the horizon, and I don't think I can replicate the conditions for the lens. I have no idea what it'd be from. I know I've had a soda explode before, but that was only a few spots of sticky that cleaned easily. But, the substance is more oily, kind of like when my eyeglasses get dirty, but nothing ever touches the inside of my window. My guess is something being blown in small quantities from the vent has accumulated over the years.
    – user11271
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 2:27

22 Answers 22


I clean the inside with washing-up liquid (like Fairy in the UK - a mild liquid used for handwashing plates, cutlery etc.), then Windolene (a glass cleaning product), and then finish up with Rain-X Anti-fog.

That gives me a pristine surface that resists fogging, especially in the winter.

  • 3
    I was exactly going to post that no matter how the window is cleaned, the last layer should be Rain-X Antifog. Great stuff!
    – dotancohen
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 12:17
  • 1
    Can't upvote the Rain-X antifog enough. The stuff is amazing.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 2:55
  • I was finally able to get this done, after delays of forgetting to buy the Anti-fog (then the stores I remembered it at not having it in stock), then health issues, etc. I'm eager to see if the solution worked. I noticed a lot of residue left before and after the Windex, but some hard (and awkward) scrubbing seems to have removed it. Once we hit some of that light that causes issues, I'll let you know.
    – user11271
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 4:24
  • After testing out different lighting situation, I can tell that my windshield interior is clean, but since I've applied the Anti-fog I've had some bad fogging problems I've never had before. I'm accepting this because using dishsoap (Dawn) and water first, then Windex did work. The Rain-X is a separate issue.
    – user11271
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 2:37
  • 1
    I had very bad resultes with Rain-X. It resulted in a smearfilm I almost couldn't get rid off, and on top of that, did not help with fogging at all. I recommend to try it out in a non-critial area first and test the vision at night, before applying it to the whole windscreen.
    – Christian
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 14:31

Crumpled newspaper is my go-to for making glass look flawless. It removes streaks that many towels will leave behind.

  • 2
    I'd upvote this 100 times if I could. Newspaper is definitely the way to go! Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 12:50
  • I second that vote.....
    – Moab
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 20:05
  • 1
    What do you actually use with crumpled newspaper? Just water/steam? Or some cleaning product? And is there no issue with ink getting off the newspaper onto the windshield, given the moisture?
    – user541686
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 7:31
  • I can't speak for all newspapers but the ink has not rubbed off for me. I use whatever cleaning solution, usually some rain-x or just windex (not as much is needed, though). My thought is that the structure of the fibers results in greater surface area contact with the glass, and is larger and more rigid than other cloths that can provide comparable contact. Microfiber and most towels are just tangled fluff. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 7:47
  • @Mehrdad you use the newspaper dry. The carbon in the ink is good at absorbing contaminants. But: many newspapers these days are printed using water-based ink, which may come off if the newspaper gets wet.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 11:15

You should be able to pull off hard-to-remove contaminants with a combination of clay bar and lubricant.

Clay bar is very good at removing surface contamination. Step-by-step instructions are shown in this video:

  • lubricate the windshield with clay lubricant (soapy water should work just as well)
  • knead the clay into a flat roughly palm-sized square
  • Apply some lubricant on the clay
  • Rub the clay against the contaminated glass using back and forth motions
  • Fold the clay bar in to expose new clay once the existing surface has picked up a fair amount of contaminants
  • 1
    Very interesting. I've literally never heard or seen of such a thing before. I would not have even begun to seek a product like this.
    – user11271
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 4:25
  • I wonder how often the guy in that video cleans his glass like that :P
    – Insane
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 7:55
  • 2
    @Insane: I would love to see him cringe when I just spit on the bird droppings and then scrape them off with the key!
    – dotancohen
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 12:31

It may be your technique which needs work. Using two CLEAN micro-fiber cleaning cloths is a good way to go. You'll want to use one which has a short nap and the other will be a waffle weave pattern one. Something like these:

Short nap:

enter image description here

Waffle weave:

enter image description here

The first one you use for cleaning with your choice of cleaning solution. The first key is to not use too much cleaner. The second is to spray the cleaner on the short nap towel (this keeps overspray off of your dash). You need enough cleaner on the towel to be moist but not dripping. Use the short nap towel on the window to clean the surface. It works better if you do this underhanded from the passenger side of the vehicle.

Once you have cleaned the window with the short nap towel, use the waffle weave towel to clean the any residue off of the windshield. You may need to work this around a little bit, but the waffle weave will do the job. Continue finding clean spots on your waffle weave by folding and refolding it. This will help with finding all of the grime.

After you use the waffle weave, use some RainX anti-fog like @RoryAlsop was saying. This will help with the fogging and with any recurring buildup.

The Chemical Guys have a video which explains it pretty well. I have it started at the windshield point, but you may want to watch the entire thing. They (obviously) are promoting their products, but the method he uses is pretty good.

As an aside, you don't want to use ammonia based cleaners anywhere you have tint, as this can damage the tint. I saw one guy using a spray bottle full of water with just one drop of dish washing liquid in it ... works pretty good.


All the suggestions made so far are very good. There are different ways to cut the grease off the windshield. The issue I always found with either ammonia or alcohol based cleaners is that they evaporate very quickly and leave a film and part of the grease behind.

What I have found to work well was to use plenty of alcohol based cleaner (not ammonia, as stated in the comments) to loosen off the grease and grime from the windshield. This will prevent the product from evaporating quickly and leaving a hard to remove film. Use the paper towel to scrub it well. Don't worry about it being very wet when done.

Next, use a fresh paper towel to dry up the excess cleaning product. This will get most of the cleaning product, together with the grime, off your windshield.

Next is the extra step that seems to make the difference for me: use some clean water on a new paper towel (make it wet, or the windshield if you have an extra sprayer). Again, use a lot on the paper towel to leave behind some water on the windshield. After scrubbing and diluting the cleaning product, use some dry paper towel again to dry the windshield.

This method may take a bit more time, and may take more paper towel than what you used to use, but I have found it do the best cleaning job. It's the water that seems to remove the film in the end.

  • 1
    You should avoid using ammonia-based cleaners for car windshields as they may hamper visibility when driving.
    – Zaid
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 17:00
  • 1
    @Zaid, please explain. Ammonia supposedly evaporates very quickly. How would that hamper visibilty?
    – Octopus
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 19:12
  • @Octopus : It can damage tinted windows, interior trim and pose a health hazard in interiors - autogeek.net/waterspots.html , ecotouch.net/…
    – Zaid
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 20:30
  • @Octopus : Also detailedimage.com/Ask-a-Pro/…
    – Zaid
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 20:33
  • @Zaid - I have not used ammonia based cleaners in the car for years. Only alcohol. So it may not have been good advice to tell someone to use it. But I also doubt many people will have aftermarket tinting on the windshield. What I do know is that whenever I have used 'Invisible Glass' (from your link), I got a huge headache and nausea after. Too strong a chemical for me. :)
    – G Trawo
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:39

I found some wet wipers in the supermarket specially for this. They smell of methylated spirits, so that's probably what they use. Anyway they work really well. I think the film on the glass comes from the heaters, so it's all kinds of oil and plastic molecules the hot air picks up in the ducts.

They come in a plastic cylinder with a slit in the top, so when you pull one out the next follows. Very handy.


Mix some warm water with a splash of vinegar and wipe the window using a cloth. Dry and polish the glass with old newspaper, the old style coarse paper works best. Colour printing seems to require less absorbent, smoother paper.

I find this highly effective and almost free.


I don't know if it's available everywhere, but I found a glass polish from Nigrin, which works quite well inside and outside.

I quess it contains some soft abrasives which don't scratch the glass, but it's very effective and easily removes even this tiny drops you get when parking under a tree.

You just apply it pure, rub it on the glass with a dry towel, an wash it away with a wet towel.


6 steps

  1. clean the surface. step one remove organics. hit with wet cloth soaked in Clorox.
  2. rinse with very damp rag.
  3. alcohol or acetone to remove petroleum based stuff
  4. ammonia to remove cleaners.
  5. rinse with water soaked towel
  6. chamois wipe down.

also good for removing rain-x. yuck.


The best way to remove that oily film on the inside of your cars windshield is to us window with about 2 ozs of white vinegar..spray on and wipe of with a clean paper towel.


Use cheep tequila, cuts grime grease smoke residue like nothing else, leaves glass streak free. I use a shot full for all the glass in my truck. Every 6 months and I smoke in the vehicle. Never have a problem with sun or night glare. Use newspaper to dry it off, and a tiny hair spray travel bottle to apply. Works miracles in my home to cut the smoke on the glass as well. Drink the rest if your Not 100% satisfied. Lol.

  • +1 for the additive function of tequila if not fully satisfied with the results ... Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! :o) Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 15:18

Spray or with a help of a towel apply talcum powder all over the windshield. (Just light dusting ) Let it is stay for a minute. The talcum powder always sticks on grime , it will fall off from clean spaces. Now wipe off thoroughly with a towel. You may need to repeat this a couple of times . Vaccume the inside when you are finished.


Clean cloth and a bowl of lukewarm water with a solid dose of dishwashing liquid. That did the trick for me.


The humble potato for clean windscreens and motor bike helmets, also will STOP glass and plastic shields from FOGGING UP.

Cut potato in half, rub on area to be cleaned, let juice dry, rub off with towelling, not your best towels, other wise your mom/mum will hit the roof,

presto, no more foggy windows or fogged up plastic shields, ummm, spit will do the same thing to underwater goggles, stop them fogging up too, just look at Llloyd Bridges doing same before he went under in Sea Hunt


Wow.. Look how many different ways people have to clean glass! And rightly so.. Until you find a method that works for you, its such a pain!

I cant go past a small spray bottle filled with water and a little (10-20%) methylated spirits, and a clean cloth.

Its cheap and easy, and being mostly water will wipe away with no streaks. The metho gives it a bit of cutting power through whatever is on the surface.


I smile as I read this. One obvious answer about cleaning glass, a windshield must be cleaned before the sun comes up, goes down or in a completely shaded place like a garage. The huge thing I want to ask: Do you eat greasy food in your car a lot like burgers and fries? I would bet that is your windshield's problem. Vinegar, alcohol, and a couple of drops of DAWN in a spray boddle will get it. Good luck to all who eat to and from work. Happens after a few days every time!


Of all my years of cleaning glass, nothing beats newspaper with a drop or two of dish washing liquid in half mug of water. Something about newspaper, but it just works.


The film is usually caused by offgassing of the material used to cover the dashboard, cigarette smoke and greasy hands. The best cleaner is alcohol that is wiped off before it evaporates followed by standard glass cleaner. Use a microfiber cloth (cheap at Wally World).


Easy. At the carwash in we just sprayed the glass with ammonia based window cleaner and rub down glass with bare hand to loosen the film of tobacco smoke and wipe off with moist terry-cloth towel. Dry towels and microfiber do not wick moisture as well. Just rinse and wring out a small terry-cloth towel (no fabric softener or other contaminants). Microfiber cloth, being polyester blend, is not a natural hydrophile, but they do attract grease, so use them to dry buff.


I found the suggestion of claybar and the one of talc interesting and support my favorite method which is Silvo. The container mentions for cleaning mirrors so I figured all glass surfaces. I reckon the liquids in the base dissolve the film and the powder in the Silvo absorbs it so when it is dry and you dust it off the film goes off too. It is messy with the powder going everywhere so cover your dash. Treat on a cool day in the shade to keep it wet longer. Do the outside first which is easier, then you can see what's what on the inside. Old microfibre cloths can shed millions of fibres that are only visible if the light is just so. Those fibres only come off with Silvo too ...surprisingly not water,detergent,meths, acetone, eucalyptus oil, isopropyl alcohol, etc and fine steel wool ...believe me I tried them all. I suspect the fibres adhere by VanDerWaals forces rather than electrostatic.


Mr clean magic eraser dry, just by itself. Simple


Thanks for all the ideas. Ammonia and vinegar/water solution did nothing but smear the residue BUT this worked beautifully: 1. 2 cups warm water and 3 drops of Dawn dish detergent in a plastic container 2. Half of another container with clear water 3. A clean, never used sponge with a scrubby back, a clean dish towel that has not been dried with dryer sheets or fabric softener and some newspaper without color print 4. Put sponge in water and Dawn solution, squeeze out excess water and apply to windshield. Turn sponge over and use scrubby side to break up residue 5. Put dish towel in clear water and wring out excess water. Rinse windshield with damp towel. 6. Wad up newspaper (no color print) and dry windshield.

Now you fave a clean windshield - no residue!!!

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