We Tested 9 Different Car Glass Cleaners to Find Out Which One Works the Best

best car cleaning products
Tested: Best Automotive Glass Cleaners for 2024Michael Simari - Car and Driver

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This article was updated in March 2024 with new products and information.

With all the fancy, part-specific cleaning products on the car detailing market, keeping your windows spotless and clean can seem like an afterthought. "Windex and forget it," right? Not so fast. There are some excellent auto-glass cleaners available that are designed to tackle the kind of road grime your windows at home will never, ever encounter. And god knows, today's SUVs have plenty of glass wrapping them.

Of course, clear vision has safety benefits too. But there are a ton of car glass cleaners on the market, so which one works best?

best windshield wipers, tested

Things to Consider

Rule #1: Ammonia-free glass cleaner is a must. Most automotive glass cleaners are ammonia-free and say so right on the bottle, but it's always a good idea to double-check. Ammonia breaks down car window tint—especially the cheaper, sticky DIY stuff—so unless you're a fan of fuzzy views through a fishbowl, avoid ammonia.

You'll also see ceramic glass cleaners. These leave a hydrophobic film on your windshield that allows water droplets to slide right off, even to the degree where you don't need to use your wipers. We used a bunch of them, as you'll see on our list below. They work well but we found that, like ceramic car wax, they take quite a bit more effort to properly apply and get just right so your vision stays clear. Unless you're particularly fastidious, using it on your car windows may lead to frustration.

Finally, yes, using Windex or similar household glass cleaner is fine. That is to say, it will get your car's glass cleaner than it is now. It won't attack road dirt as well as auto-glass cleaner, but it is decidedly better than nothing and works well on fingerprints and such.

How We Evaluated Auto Glass Cleaners

We taped off 10 sections of a Camaro's large, dark rear glass and set to work. Our testing process was simple: spray each section and wipe with a clean microfiber towel for 15 seconds. This gave us the opportunity to check each product for:

  • Cleaning power

  • Cleaning speed

  • Spray pattern

  • Streaking

  • Leftover residue

  • Dry feel

Comparing notes on these parameters allowed us to choose which glass cleaners were best and which fell short of expectations.

Best Auto Glass Cleaners

Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner

Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner is a fantastic option. We noted the streak-free cleaning performance and bottle ergonomics as the top perks.

There wasn't any residue left behind, and the picture below really showcases its cleaning power. The only thing holding it back from being top dog was a grippier dry feel than the 3M; this grip will grab onto dust and dirt a bit easier and shorten the longevity of the clean look.

But for a quick, powerful glass-cleaning product, this might be your best option.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006FUT09G?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$11.42</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

The cleaning power of this stuff is obvious.

meguiar's glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Rain-X Cerami-X

On to the ceramics: This Rain-X Cerami-X Glass Cleaner features the twin aspects you want in a ceramic glass cleaner. It lifts and removes dirt and grime while leaving behind a hydrophobic ceramic coating to repel water droplets.

We were impressed by the dry feel; it felt impeccably smooth without any grip, allowing water to bead right off. It's at a nice price point too.

However, be aware that you might need some extra effort as you wipe. We had to perform two spray-and-wipe cycles with some heavy-handed pressure to get true clarity. In the picture below, you can see some slight haze to the left side after the first cycle.

But for the price and dry feel, this is the best ceramic glass cleaner we tested.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NMQMPR3?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Rain-X Cerami-X </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$9.34</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

There's still a bit of haze on the left side of our test area—which would inevitably come up with more wiping—but our test parameters were kept equal across all products.

rain x ceramic glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Rain-X Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent

For the best bargain deal, the Rain-X Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent is the way to go. While this might seem like a ceramic glass cleaner, it isn't. However, it does act like it.

This stuff contains Rain-X's famous water-beading technology found on its wiper blades. It's not a ceramic coating, but it's close. We were impressed by the dry feel and price point, but it took some extra time to eliminate all of the haze.

For a budget option that cleans well and offers some level of water repellence, you can't go wrong with this.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000NWJJLG?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Rain-X Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$13.97</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

A little bit of haze is visible toward the bottom; it went away after a second cleaning cycle.

rain x glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Griot's Garage Ceramic Glass Cleaner

Griot's Garage Ceramic Glass Cleaner comes in as an honorable mention. We enjoyed the cleaning power and dry feel.

The oddly shaped spray bottle is ergonomically a little funky, which could get annoying after extended use. The ceramic coating felt smoother than non-ceramics, but not as glossy as the Rain-X ceramic above. It also required a second cleaning cycle to achieve perfect clarity.

It's not the top ceramic glass cleaner, but a decent option nonetheless. It's fairly affordable too, so if you like the brand it's still worth the purchase.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09S82G5V5?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Griot's Garage Ceramic Glass Cleaner</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$9.99</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

Some smudges remained after our first cleaning pass.

griot's garage glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Invisible Glass

Invisible Glass performed quite well against the dirt and grime, removing it quickly and effectively. We liked the large spray pattern and the lack of streaks.

However, the dry feel was concerning, as it was one of the grippiest of the bunch. For show cars, this might not be a bad option; it'll get your windows clean in a jiffy. But for daily drivers, they'll get dirty again nearly as fast.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0037LKPWC?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Invisible Glass</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$4.58</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

It removed nearly all of the grime from the window, but the grippy dry feel was concerning.

invisible glass glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Chemical Guys Streak Free

Chemical Guys Streak Free fell a bit short in our testing. We were concerned with the cleaning power when it left some grime behind after the first cleaning cycle. There were streaks, but they evaporated quickly, and a slight grip was felt when dry. We were surprised by an underwhelming performance from this popular brand.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DQMFLT6?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Chemical Guys Streak Free</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$9.97</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

Seemed to leave behind some grime that other cleaners would take off with ease.

chemical guys glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

CARPRO Clarify

CARPRO Clarify glass cleaner has sleek, contemporary packaging—but seems to be priced higher than its performance. It cleaned decently but left behind some light spots, as seen in the photo below. The grippy dry feel was a strike against it too. For the price, we wouldn't recommend it.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0845PSWCV?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>CARPRO Clarify</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$22.99</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

Some undesirable faint spots remained after cleaning.

carpro glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver


We wanted to add Windex to the fray because, why not? It's the most popular window cleaner on the planet. (For those considering it for automotive use, be advised that plain Windex contains ammonia and is NOT recommended for use on tinted windows.)

While this may be a household favorite, its performance against car window grime was poor, especially when compared to the purpose-made competition. Many spots remained, and the glass felt grippy once dry.

Use it around the house, by all means. (Although we'd think twice if we lived in a place such as Arizona or Nevada, where homes commonly have tinted windows.) But for the car? Forget it.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GFLZ0WU?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Windex </p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$3.48</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

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Andi Hedrick

Before & After

You can easily see spots and grime on the bottom left after use—not worth the risk.

windex glass cleaner
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Armor All Glass Wipes

Armor All Glass Wipes boast great convenience but poor performance. As you can see in the before-and-after photo below, a nice juicy streak was left behind and refused to evaporate. There's no point in trying to clean windows if the product leaves behind streaks, so we'd steer clear of these.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002JM5K2?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.42246787%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Armor All Glass Wipes</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$6.99</p><span class="copyright">Andi Hedrick</span>

Before & After

It's like a giant snail left a trail of yuck along the rear window.

armor all glass cleaner wipes
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

How We Tested Automotive Glass Cleaners

We wanted to find a vehicle with a large, dark window—so we settled on a Car and Driver staffer's 1997 Camaro Z/28. The rear glass of the car was noticeably dirty with typical dust and road grime. Once we threw on a blanket to protect the fenders from our belts, we got to work.

We taped off 10 sections equally, which proved to be a slight challenge thanks to the curvature of the window. Unless the bottle instructed us otherwise, we liberally sprayed the respective cleaner onto its section. We then wiped it with a clean microfiber cloth for 15 seconds.

Why 15 seconds? Any piece of glass will sparkle if scrubbed and buffed for minutes—but we wanted to test for cleaning power and ease of use, so we set a standard and left it at that.

In total, we noted each product's:

  • Cleaning effectiveness and speed

  • Streaking, if applicable

  • Sprayer and bottle ergonomics

  • Leftover residue

  • Dry feel

cropped hand cleaning car windshield with napkin
Nathee Sanbooytho / EyeEm - Getty Images


Why is ammonia bad for car windows?

Ammonia isn't bad for car windows—it's bad for tint. The tint can bubble, lighten, and disintegrate after prolonged cleaning with ammonia-based cleaners. For this reason, nearly all automotive glass cleaners are ammonia-free.

How do I clean the inside of my car windows?

Just like you would the outside. Ideally, you want to get as much heavy grime off the window as you can before buffing it to a sparkle. Use a clean, lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe your cleaner in slow, circular motions. Avoid using paper towels, as these can actually leave small scratches in your window. Make sure to roll your window down a bit to clean the very top too.

What is ceramic glass cleaner?

Ceramic glass cleaner seems to be gaining traction in the automotive-detailing world. This stuff features a combination of cleaner and ceramic coating to remove contaminants while leaving behind a water-repelling residue. Some ceramic glass cleaners boast that you won't need to use your windshield wipers, as the water beads right off as you drive.

We found that ceramic glass cleaners take a bit more effort to properly apply. You may need to perform additional spray-and-wipe cycles to get it truly crystal clear—and we had to use extra elbow grease to remove some pesky streaks and haze. The longevity of ceramic glass coatings varies between products, but using your wipers will decrease the lifespan of the coating.

Why trust us?

This test was conducted in an environment that provided equal testing procedures for each product: the Car and Driver garage. We tested each glass cleaner on an equally dirty section of a large rear window, taking detailed notes on each cleaner's performance, streaking, dry feel, and residue. Upon tallying up our findings, we agreed that our test provided enough information to recommend picks to our readers.

Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. We don't need to scramble for traffic or promote lousy products to make a sale. We're concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest evaluations and expert opinions.

Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.

best automotive glass cleaners
Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver

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