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Tinted car windows have a lot of amazing benefits. They filter more UV rays than regular car windows to protect your plastics and upholstery from cracking or fading in the sun. They help to keep the heat out of your car on warm, summer days. They even offer shattered glass protection and give you better privacy, whether you’re parked or on the road.
But tinted windows also need special care to make these benefits last. What makes tinted windows different from regular car windows is the plastic film that adheres to your auto glass to give your windows, windshield and rear window that tinted look. This film is much more sensitive to the harsh chemicals found in household glass cleaners and disinfectant sprays, so it’s important to use proper cleaning techniques to care for your tinted car windows.
In this guide, we’ll share everything there is to know about cleaning and maintaining your tinted car windows, and spoiler alert: it’s a lot simpler than you might think!
There are two different types of car window tint. There’s factory tint, a pigment that the original car manufacturer adds directly to the glass, and aftermarket tint, which you can have professionally installed after you’ve bought your vehicle.
Factory tinted windows, otherwise known as privacy glass, is just as durable as regular auto glass, so you can go about cleaning these windows the same way you normally would. To learn more about how to clean your auto glass for a streak free finish, check out our previous article.
Aftermarket tint, on the other hand, is a plastic film that adheres to the inside of your auto glass to give your car windows more UV protection and heat resistance. While aftermarket tint offers a lot more benefits than factory tint, which is often added for aesthetic purposes, it is much more sensitive to harsh chemicals and cleaning solutions.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on how to clean and maintain your aftermarket tint.
When you first get your car windows tinted, the film will need about a week to cure, which allows it to fully adhere to the surface of your car glass. During this time, you should avoid rolling down your windows or using any type of cleaners on your tinted windows, which can disrupt the curing process or cause the plastic film to separate from your auto glass.
If you need to clean tinted car windows during the curing process, just use a spray bottle filled with water and a microfiber cloth to wipe away any dirt and stains that have made their way onto your window film. Otherwise, just leave your windows alone during the curing process.
Think about how you clean your dashboard and plastic trim. The last thing you want to do is use harsh, alcohol-based cleaners that can dry out the plastic and accelerate wear and tear. The same is true of tinted car windows. Although we usually think of our windows as glass surfaces, window film is made of plastic, so you’ll want to treat tinted windows with the same care as your soft, plastic interior.
This means avoiding common household cleaners, like alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer or an ammonia-based window cleaner. You should also avoid using heavy-duty scrub mitts and sponges that could damage the film and reduce the clarity of your windows. Instead, just use warm water and some soft cloths when cleaning your tinted windows to remove as much dirt as possible. Just water. It’s that easy!
If there are any stubborn stains and soils that won’t come clean with just water, use a purpose-built car window cleaner like Turtle Wax Dash & Glass to wipe down the window. Our car glass cleaners are designed without any harsh chemicals that could damage your window tint. Be sure to spray the cleaner directly onto your microfiber cloth to avoid streaks and overspray on the rest of your car. Avoid using paper towels, which can leave lint and create additional streaks and smudges.
Many car owners neglect the rubber seal that wraps around their car windows, also known as the weatherstripping. As you roll your windows up and down, dirt, rocks and grim from the rest of your window surface can get caught in the weatherstripping and start to grind against your windows, which can cause damage to your window tint. Be sure to clean this area thoroughly with a detailer like Hybrid Solutions Streak-Free Mist. This advanced interior detailing spray leaves behind a glossy layer of protectants and UV inhibitors to keep weatherstripping from becoming dry and brittle, while also making it easier to clean.
We like our car windows squeaky clean, but we don’t mean literally! To avoid that obnoxious squeaking noise that clean window film sometimes makes, apply an interior protectant like Hybrid Solutions Streak-Free Mist to keep your windows rolling smoothly and add that extra touch of gloss.
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