In rain conditions, my wipers throw away the water well, but it seems that a small film still remains. When the car is not moving, water seems to accumulate especially in those areas where the smudges are. A picture probably helps:

smudges on the windscreen while waiting at traffic light

The pic above shows my windscreen a few seconds after using the wipers. Initially the smudges are very fine, just like a film, and after a few seconds water accumulates. When stopped for longer, water seems to stick to them:

water accumulation over previous smudges

I was tempted to think my wipers need to be changed, maybe they don't make close contact with the screen.

But, the weird thing is, it has been raining all night, and in the morning I no longer get smudges, but a perfectly transparent windscreen. However, if I use washer fluid, then I get smudges again.

What's the best fix ? Replace the fluid? The wipers? Both?

Thank you !

  • Same here. Still experimenting, but tried some glass cleaning agents/fluids from Walmart with moderate success. Dec 28, 2021 at 15:39
  • IMO it is silcone on the windscreen, from being waxed, or a waxy carwash cleaner additive, or even the carwash rollers, that does that, or perhaps a build-up of road tar etc over time. It's suggested by the way the water beads up. I get it off with mild formula T-cut and lots of elbow grease, which doesn't seem to mark the glass. As for additives, I only ever clean the car with just a couple of drops of dish soap in the bucket, and rinse well. Dec 28, 2021 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


From my experience, this is caused from two issues which sort of exacerbate each other. First, your wipers aren't working as designed. Most likely, they have "gunk" on them which if cleaned off would help tremendously. The "gunk" on the wipers is getting smeared onto the windshield. As they continue to wipe, it just makes it worse. To fix this issue, you need to thoroughly clean both the wipers and the windshield. Windshield washer fluid itself isn't going to get it clean. Better fluid can help after these are clean.

Your wipers may or may not need to be replaced. Pull up the wiper arm and feel the blade with your thumb. If the rubber (term used generically) feels soft and supple, you can most likely clean them and they'll work just fine. The easiest way I've found to clean the wiper is, when at the fueling station which has a squeegee with a fluid soaked sponge on the back side, allow the wiper blade to ride on the sponge part while you move it the length of the wiper. If you do this a couple of times per wiper blade, it will do a great job of getting all the gunk off of it.

Conversely, I understand if you cut an apple or potato in 1/2, you can wipe this along the blade and it will clean it off as well. I've never done this, but understand it can do a good job.

Do either one of these things every couple of months and you'll find your wipers will be working much better. If the wipers are hard/still or have notches in them, it's time for replacements.

To clean your windshield, you're going to need a good cleaner. Household glass cleaner works very well. You can use Windex, but a better cleaner is the foaming type which comes in a metal can (I don't know what it's called). You'll need to supply some elbow grease, but this should get all the gunk off of there.

Once everything is clean, I usually use something like Rain-X, which is a hydrophobic and forces the water off of the windshield. In my experience, this really helps keep the windshield free of water and clear. I don't know if there are any other brands out there besides Rain-X, but I'm sure there must be others. There are also some additives you can put into your washer fluid which will retreat the windshield on a regular basis. This not only repels the water, it also helps to keep the windshield clean. You have to reapply it every so often, as it will get worn off.

  • There are other brands, but Rain-X is definitely the most well known and easiest to find in stores.
    – Moshe Katz
    Dec 28, 2021 at 21:47
  • If you use washer fluid with Rain-X then expect smearing. Rain-X is made to coat the windshield without using wipers as water droplets break down and create a flim of water to see thru. Wipers wear off this film coating leaving your windshield in whatever condition obscuring clear views. Plain windshield washer fluid, wiping blades clean with a napkin and using a squeegee before turning on wipers can keep the windshield clear of everyday oil deposition from vehicle exhaust. Occasional use of fine steel wool with soapy water will remove hard buildup. I've used this method for years.
    – F Dryer
    Dec 29, 2021 at 13:31
  • 1
    @FDryer - I use Rain-X washer fluid all the time and never have the issue of it smearing. Also, a hydrophobic doesn't cause water to thin out, it causes it to sit high and proud (called non-wetting). Since it sits high/proud and doesn't "wet" the window, it rolls right off with air pressure as you're moving down the road. Dec 29, 2021 at 14:13
  • You must have a perfectly scratch free windshield because it doesn't work on windshields collecting scratches from stones. I recommended the cheapest cost effective wiper maintenance using a squeegee before rainfall and wiping grime off wipers before the first wipe. Been doing this over 30 years for streak free wipers. I despise dirt on all windows, obscuring clear views in rain, snow, whatever. To each his own.
    – F Dryer
    Dec 30, 2021 at 22:43

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