- Master the easy way to get a smear-free finish
- Learn about the different types of cleaning product and what they do
- See how old glass can be quickly refreshed and revitalised
- Learn how to get the ultimate hydrophobic protection
- Better vision always equals increased safety
- Crystal clear glass is the perfect, and most noticeable finishing touch to any detail
- Using the correct products, it's easier to master than most people think
Windows, we think you'll agree that they're a pretty important part of your car, and especially handy when you're driving. Getting them sparkling is one of the ultimate finishing touches to any detail, too. So, we think it's pretty ironic that they're all-too-often forgotten, and that goes double because cleaning and adding protection to glass is far easier than many think. Oh, and when you get it right, it really is like driving in 5K HD. Here's how to do the job effectively, the products to use and few top tips along the way…
Getting your windows looking fresh and actually having the best all-round vision are the main concerns here. Along with keeping them that way, of course. When it comes to exterior glass, the four things to look out for are; safe grime removal, restoration/decontamination (if needed), finishing and protection.
It's obvious that exterior glass suffers from exposure to the elements, the main reason that, in many cases, it may need to be cleaned even more often than your paintwork. But, by using the correct detailing products, it's possible to remove grime quickly and safely.
As with any other aspect of detailing, the amount of soiling to be removed is the key concern. Heavily soiled windows will need to be washed with Lather car shampoo during your usual maintenance routine, or carefully cleaned away with mild dilution of an all-purpose cleaner like Verso. It's important that they're washed and dried effectively before moving to the next stage, to ensure that light scratches aren't inflicted. Remember that window glass may be far hardier than paintwork, but that doesn't mean that it can't be scratched.
With a fast-flashing, alcohol-based product like Crystal glass cleaner or Caramics ceramic glass cleaner, lightly soiled windows can be cleaned straight away. Which is perfect for in-between maintenance washes and for full details. Alcohol based cleaners are designed to chemically dissolve grime before they evaporate. On a microscopic level, glass isn't actually smooth - the surface is serrated - and it's here that dirt and even water molecules can take hold. In liquid form these cleaners work their way into the nooks, breaking the bond of the contaminant in question, and allow it to be wiped away from the surface. The nature of the rough glass surface is also important when it comes to restoration and protection stages.
Not all glass needs restoration… or perhaps we should say, not all glass looks like it needs restoration at first, but it's surprising what a difference using Vision glass polish can make. And, not just on older glass, either!
Just like your paintwork, glass can be given a new lease of life using a specialist polish. The idea here is to remove any oxidation, fine scratches and watermarks that can't be chemically removed. Instead a light abrasive is used to mechanically (i.e. physically) to remove them. Using Vision does this in the same way as a mild polish would on the lacquer layer of your paintwork, refining and cleaning on a molecular level at the same time. Removing stubborn stains in this way is an age-old detailing concept, and best carried out before using Crystal or Caramics Glass Cleaner to remove any left-over residues. The transformation will be immediately apparent. Vision can also be used on our DPX Machine Polisher for when a little extra bite is needed.
It's also worth noting here that the mechanical deep cleaning of the surface clears out the microscopic recesses so effectively, that your glass will be more spotless than ever before. This in turn will make it hydrophilic, meaning that water molecules can hold on to these recesses. So, this is where adding hydrophobic protection will always pay dividends.
There's one simple reason why adding hydrophobic protection to your exterior glass is a good idea - it will stop dirt and water from sticking. In fact, we have a whole line of products that leave behind a Si02 coating, which will actively repel these contaminants, creating a barrier that stops them from becoming ingrained in the surface.
Si02 (or Silicon Dioxide), also known as Silica, is essentially the biggest component in glass, which itself is derived from sand. Si02 also comes in the form of quartz - the basis of all ceramic coatings - be that one designed for glass, or paint, or any other surface. What it does is chemically bond with the top layer to become a durable part of the surface. On a molecular level, it fills in the rough recesses to smooth out the surface, leaving nothing for dirt or water molecules to hold on to. This is why you see water beading off of glass and paintwork after ceramic coating.
Products like Aqua Coat hydrophobic rinse aid and Lavish ceramic foam are designed to install and top up ceramic coatings during the wash phase, either from the bottle, or your snow Foam Lance. These make life extremely straightforward during maintenance washes.
For super-fast cleaning and adding (or topping up) ceramic protection, our Caramics ceramic glass cleaner is an absolute kit bag essential. Not only is it a powerful cleaner that flashes fast and leaves glass smear free, but you can immediately see the difference in water behaviour from the Si02 layer it leaves behind. Aside from quick cleaning, Caramics ceramic glass cleaner is great for use after polishing glass, and it's also designed to help any previously applied coatings last longer. An amazing all-rounder.
For the ultimate in glass protection we have our Caramics Glass Protection Kit. Unlike traditional ceramic coatings, this has been specifically engineered to make application simple by utilising special Glass Wipes. These can be used in a matter of minutes to create a super-hard, ultra-hydrophobic layer that lasts for up to 12-months. The easy-clean properties also make this kit extremely popular, and it's a great one for adding protection after any polishing and refining work. With Caramics ceramic glass cleaner used as a top up during routine maintenance, here we have a combination that's impossible to beat.
On the inside effective cleaning is still vital to make sure your vision isn't impaired when driving, not to mention giving that sought after, smear-free, show-worthy finish. But, while your interior glass isn't exposed to the elements, there's a different set of contaminants that will need to be removed. For the most part these are films and residues from tobacco smoke, along with nasties from coughs, sneezes and even breathing. Oh, and let's not forget those greasy fingerprints, either. The good news is that all these can be cleaned away effectively using an alcohol-based cleaner like Crystal glass cleaner. How this works is all down to the mild blend of distilled solvents. These are extremely effective at breaking down greasy films, allowing them to be wiped away. These also flash-off quickly, so all that's needed is a quick final buff to leave behind a crystal-clear finish. With no exposure to the elements, hydrophobic protection isn't needed on the inside, and it's unlikely that polishing away oxidation will be needed either. Crystal is also perfect for use on tinted windows, which is particularly important because sensitive tinting films are always applied on the inside. Got a track weapon where vision is particularly important? Well, don't worry, Crystal is safe on lightweight polycarbonate and acrylic motorsport windows, too.
Many forget this one, but on some cars, it makes sense to drop your windows when you start cleaning so you can get to the hidden parts at the top. It's also a good idea to do this when drying, especially on cars fitted with wind deflectors. This way you're getting to all the glass. On many modern cars holding down the open button on the remote will do this for you.
Short pile microfibre cloths are best for using with glass cleaners. For the ultimate in glass cleaning though, using a cloth that's specifically designed for the job. We have a duo of great tools for this, both have a special weave design that traps grime in the pockets, keeping it away from your glass when wiping, they both make leaving a streak-free finish easier than ever, too.
Our super-soft Superior Waffle Cloth is great for soaking up Crystal glass cleaner and Caramics Glass Cleaner and buffing off, while our Glass Waffle has a little more bite for scrubbing away stains, and is particularly perfect for use with Vision glass polish, but can be used with our spray-on products, too.
When using Crystal glass cleaner or Caramics ceramic glass cleaner, we find the best way to attack your windows is spritzing a little over the glass, then wiping around the edge, followed by the middle part. This will help you make sure you've covered the entire area.
A great little trick is to make sure your windows are a little warm on the inside before cleaning. This will help the solvents flash off even more quickly.
Try using a side-to-side motion on the outside, and top-to-bottom on the inside. This way, if you do leave any smears behind, you'll be able to identify where more easily.
We're talking about your mirrors and possibly your headlights. Our products are glass cleaners after all, they're just as effective on the other areas as they are windows.