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How and Why to Keep Your Car Windscreen Clean

by Neil Allen /

With Autumn here, and Winter to follow, the sun starts to sink lower in the sky, and as that happens, driving in heavy traffic becomes difficult and dangerous.

Dirty car windscreen

A good pair of sunglasses help hugely, but something that’ll aid your visibility further is have a clean windscreen. Trying to see ahead is ridiculously hard when you have a treacherous combination of that low-lying sun – which always sits in the low position at rush-hour – a screen covered in smeared bug guts and general greasy road grime such as diesel and ice-melting salt, and the inside of the glass being dirty, and you’ve got a recipe for a car crash.

It’s even worse if it rains and then the sun comes out again, as it’s now not on sitting at a direct eye level, but it’s also bouncing it off the road, through your dirty windscreen and dazzling you so much it’s painful.

So, what can you do to help make vision through your windscreen better at this time of year?

First off, replace your windscreen wiper blades.

If the rubber of your wipers are nicked (cut) in places, then they’ll not clean the glass properly, and will leave annoying streak marks across it. This impedes vision, and doesn’t help with glare.

car windscreen wipers

Second, clean the inside of your screen.

If you’ve not done this in a while, you’ll be surprised by just how much horrible grime will appear on the cloth once you have. Cleaning not only allows much better vision (obviously), but it also aids in the screen not misting up as easily when the temperature drops.

What products should I use to clean interior car glass?

I’ve tried lots of car-specific glass cleaners, but honestly, the non-smear household stuff is almost always as good. I’ve found that using thick kitchen roll works well as it’s really absorbent and effective at pulling away the grime instead of pushing it about.

Thirdly, clean the exterior of the windscreen.

This is very important, and if the road grime has built up over time, there’s more too it than simply giving the glass a quick once over with the sponge and dirty water in a bucket from your local garage. Cold water does not clean diesel and oily deposits, and a sponge will barely touch the bug splats.

What products should I use to clean exterior car glass?

Using glass cleaner alone (the stuff you used on the inside) usually isn’t enough. It won’t cut through the heavier stuff such like the aforementioned oily deposits and smeared sticky bug splats very well, so there’s a couple of products you can use.

Before using these though, give the glass a clean using washing up detergent (Fairy, Stardrops etc) in hot water, and a microfibre wash mitt. I normally don’t recommend this – certainly on bodywork – but they are highly effective at their job: cleaning away heavy grime build-up.

screenwash on car windscreen

Next, car glass polish is readily available from good car valeting/detailing stores, and this is used to cut through the grime quickly and effectively, leaving a completely clean screen. I find it best to use a normal glass cleaner to finish off the job and remove any polish excess polish residue.

Finally, use a glass sealant.

“What’s one of those”, you may be asking. It’s as it sounds; the product will chemically react with the glass surface, bonding to it to create a strong but invisible layer of protection. This means the glass is now hydrophobic, and water will sheet (slide) off the glass almost as soon as it touches it. As the car speeds up, the more effectively the rain clears, and weirdly the heavier the rain the more effective it is – so much so that you barely need to use your wipers.

Glass sealant also means that bug splats are far more easily removed, and road grime will be wiped away without trouble. A decent glass sealant should last for a good few months, so reapplication won’t be necessary very often.

clean windscreen

After you’ve accomplished all of these steps, the glare should be much less severe than on a dirty windscreen, and it’ll ensure that vision through it when it rains heavily will be so much better.

The end result? A safer and far less stressful drive for you. For independent glass cleaner and sealant reviews, please visit CarProductsTested.com

Written by Chris Davies – an award-winning motoring journalist writing for CarProductsTested.com

Photo credits: Sun Glare Demi-Brooke; Windscreen wipers Charlie Brewer; windscreen wiper and rain Tina Franklin, Driving Robert Couse-Baker

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