I used Ajax Spray n’ Wipe Glass today to clean the inside of my Corolla driver’s side window. Bad idea… it removed the factory window tinting. I look on the back of the bottle and it says “Advice: do not use on tinted glass”. Not that obvious unless you go looking for it.
Well, the stuff says it is for glass. And similar stuff with various brands is what I have been using for many years to clean car windows. And it looks the same as always… transparent blue liquid.
So, a warning… even if your car does not have an aftermarket tinting film applied to the windows, beware that this product can remove the factory tinting. I suspect it would also remove tinting from house glass windows too. Maybe other brands will also be tempted to sell glass-cleaning products that look the same as always but now do nasty things, so read the label carefully before use.
You didn’t mention how old the tinting is. I was told not to clean our tinted car windows for several months to allow the film to ‘set’ to the windows. You should have been given written instructions on how to clean the factory window film when you bought the vehicle.
Perhaps you sprayed on more window cleaner, or left it longer, and allowed the film to get saturated compared to your previous efforts? If you have ever seen window film being applied you will have seen them spray the window & the film with a diluted detergent to soften and move the film on the glass. I would think that anything that saturates the film would allow it to move, and possibly lead to the film tearing. Possibly soapy water would have done the same?
We were told never use anything except for a very clean, soft damp cloth devoid of any cleaning products. Cleaning products can affect the tinting. We have done this for 18 years and the tinting still looks almost the same as the day it was installed.
GJ Glass (windows in the house) advised specifically not to use to use Windex. They advise a clean water rinse, followed by 1:10 Vinegar : water mix. Clean at least once every 6 months. I have followed that advice and our windows look good. The mirror supplier also advised against using windex, recommended clean water, but wasn’t against a 1:10 vinegar mix. I keep a chamois just for mirrors and windows and don’t use squeegees or scrapers or scrubbers.
The car is 10 years old. The manual says not to use window cleaner on the rear window, due to the potential to damage the demisting wires, which is fair enough. Otherwise, it doesn’t say what you can or can’t use. Like I said, I’ve been using Windex and the like on it and other vehicles for decades, without any issues. Spray it on, wipe it dry using scrunched-up newspaper. Worked like a charm.
Note, this isn’t a plastic film applied to the glass after purchase. It is standard Toyota glass, straight from the factory. It has a tint (colour) of some form, which I had expected would be internal to the glass, but obviously isn’t, given that it has come off.
PhilT … indeed, it appears that none of the glass cleaners should be used on tinted windows! News to me too.
I’m a little concerned regarding using vinegar for cleaning car windows, given that it is acidic and probably will run down into the door interior, rusting the metal bits in there. Not to mention any electricals.
I have used dishwashing detergent with water for house window cleaning and that is fine. But it hasn’t got the oompf for the more serious deposits on car windows.
I’d suggest if there is any effect on the tint it is a film applied after the vehicle has been manufactured. Factory tint is part of the glass itself and cannot be removed by any cleaning or abrasion, as it is distributed throughout the body of the glass ie “body tint”.
I don’t know for sure, because I bought the car second-hand. But it didn’t appear to have a film applied aftermarket or by the dealer. I couldn’t see any evidence of a film edge near the edges of the glass, such as at the top. But it sure looked like a film when it started disintegrating after applying the window cleaner.
We have had several vehicles where the front windscreen had a band of tint at the top, embeded in the windscreen itself. That doesn’t come off unless the whole windscreen is removed .
Being in climes that can be rather sunny and warm, we have had window tint applied to all our vehicles after purchase, as it is much cheaper than having the dealer do it.
Over the years we have had two professional window tinters do the work for us (when they are not busy tinting for dealerships). When done properly, the tint appears to go all the way to the rubber seals, but if you look closely there is a razor blade’s thickness gap. It sounds like this was what was in your vehicle @Softy.
A good installer will make these very hard to see, Use a good quality magnifying glass and it should be visible…a line near the edge of the glass. If you have sharp finger nails, sometimes they can also be felt as there is a minute lip between the two surfaces that a nail may detect.
Many glass cleaners will also contain ammonia, which is a great chemical for removing old tint from car windows. Or rather, great if you’re intending to remove the tint, not so great if you’re not intending to.
I’ve always been told just to use plain water and a microfiber cloth to clean tint, never commercial cleaning products.
Always read the back of products to check for advice.
I am a little perplexed in so much as ‘factory’ tints are usually a film within the glass itself. So my question would be. Was this indeed a factory tint or a dealer tint? Any form of window film should be treated very carefully unfortunately.
You can get tinted glass which has colour incorporated within the glass on its manufacture. Many car companies call this privacy glass. Window tinting is the application of a tinted film onto the glass after its manufacturer. This can be done by a dealership selling the car or by third party after-market retailers. This website explains the difference:
Warning also should apply to some mirrors. My sister did a major renovation & put large frameless mirror in bathroom. Installer said use only water & elbow grease to clean. You know how older mirrors lose the mirror finish & you get that brown edge showing? It’s the window cleaning products…Less of an issue with mirrored wardrobe doors, as the damage is covered by the frame. What a lesson after such a long time!!
Maybe. Old household mirrors are “silvered” on the back of the glass. Showing other colours instead of silver is due to wear or damage on the back, I cannot see how the cleaning of the front does that. This is true of those where the reflective material is aluminium or the older method where it was actually silver.