We hear people ask all the time which type of glass cleaner they should use. Essentially, does using a car specific glass cleaner make a difference? In short, yes. Car specific cleaners are formulated differently than most household cleaners, and are the natural choice when detailing your car. You may not think there’s a difference in the results either, but there is.
There are two main reasons to choose a car specific glass cleaner over a household version; ammonia and streaking. Read on to find out why you should be using an auto glass cleaner instead of your household window cleaner…
Household glass cleaners use ammonia for cleaning power, and what seems harmless actually can end up costing you a lot of time and money. If your car has tinted windows, ammonia will continuously breakdown the tint and in many cases has been reported to fade it as well. These precautions are primarily due to ammonia’s sheer chemical cleaning power, which also happens to be why it’s commonly used inside the house as a multi-surface cleaner. Something you didn’t know about ammonia: prior to 1900, ammonia was used in engine and solar applications, and was also used to power buses in Belgium during WWII. Not exactly the substance you want on your car’s glass.
The second issue with household cleaners is streaking. If you haven’t noticed, your car’s windows are exposed to a lot more than your bathroom mirrors and shower doors, such as those bugs you hit going 80 on the freeway. Because auto glass typically has more grease and dust, household cleaners tend to leave visible streaks which can be detrimental to your visibility when driving (not to mention it looks quite sloppy). Similarly, fogging has also been reported by some after using household window cleaners on a car’s interior windows. Either way, these are not issues you want to encounter while driving.
Now that you know why household cleaners aren’t the right choice, here’s why a car specific option is. Your typical auto glass cleaner contains no ammonia, and is more effective on the glass. Instead, these cleansers utilize the power of alcohol, vinegar, and specialized surfactants which naturally breakdown grime and leave a streak-free finish. Unlike a household cleaner, auto glass cleaners set the stage for proper protection; something ammonia is not good at. Now in most situations, this will all be true, however some car care product manufacturers repackage household cleaners and some even use ammonia; it’s always important to check out the label of any product before purchasing.
The choice is clear, much like your windows will be after using an automotive glass cleaner.