Waxes are great applying protection to the paintwork, but can they be applied to a car’s windshield and windows? In this article, I’ll be addressing everything you need to know about applying waxes or sealants to a vehicle’s exterior glass. So let’s get started.
The Quick Answer
Most waxes are not formulated to work on glass and can cause streaking and smearing so it is not recommended to apply a traditional wax to the windshield. It’s better to use a water-repellent glass cleaner, or glass coating that is specifically designed to protect the glass instead.
So with that said, where do you go from here, and how do you figure out if the wax you want to use is suitable? The rest of this article should hopefully clear all this up.
Applying a dedicated glass coating is the best way to protect your car’s windows. Check out my complete guide to glass coatings to learn everything you should know.
It Depends on the Wax
If you can choose a wax that also says it’s suitable for application on glass, then you’re onto a winner. Otherwise, I would steer clear of using it.
Different waxes work better on windshields than others. Generally, waxes that are in liquid form, rather than paste form, tend to have fewer issues with streaks, smears and messy application.
The best thing to do, is to test it on a side window first. Then you can see if you get any streaks or smears, without wrecking your windshield and making it a pain to remove again.
So which waxes work best on glass? Well, there are so so many out there that it’d be impossible to give a completely definite list. Plus, this isn’t something I tend to do anymore as I’ve found a better alternative (more on that later).
However, here are a couple of popular waxes and sealants that are suitable for use on both paint and glass, according to the manufacturers.
Waxes and Paint Sealants That Can Be Used on Glass
- Chemical Guys Jet Seal
- Turtle Wax Hybrid Sealant Wax
Make Sure the Windows are Squeaky Clean
If you’re planning on applying a suitable wax or sealant to your windshield and exterior glass, then you’ll need to make sure they’re completely free from dirt, grime, water spots, bugs and other layers of protection that may have been previously applied.
Here’s a quick guide on how to deep clean your car’s windshield.
- Wash the windshield with car shampoo that does not contain any wax or gloss-enhancement.
- Use a clay bar on the glass in straight line motions with plenty of lubrication (read this article to learn more about using clay bars on glass).
- Wash the windshield again with the wax-free car shampoo and dry using a microfiber towel.
- Polish the glass using a glass polish e.g. CarPro Ceriglass and a microfiber applicator.
- Clean the glass using a strong glass cleaner.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have super clean glass that’s ready to be sealed and protected.
How to Apply Wax to Exterior Glass
The first thing to remember when applying any form of protection (including waxes and sealants) to the exterior glass on your car is to get the prep right, which hopefully you will have done according to the steps above.
Then the actual process of applying the wax is exactly the same as when you’d apply it to the paint. Just make sure you follow the manufactures’ instructions in terms of drying times etc. But here are some extra tips to keep you on track.
Applying Wax to Glass
- Do not apply waxes or sealants in direct sunlight.
- Apply it to dry and clean glass.
- Use a very thin layer.
- Avoid touching the surrounding black rubber or trim as it will cause white stains. Use a low-tac tape if necessary on the trim whilst applying.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
Issues With Waxing a Windshield
So, I mentioned earlier that I don’t personally apply wax to my car’s windshield, so why is this the case?
I think there are several issues of applying waxes and sealants that are designed for the paint, on exterior glass.
Streaks and Smearing
This is the biggest issue with waxing a windshield. Often, even if you get the prep right, you may still see some streaks and smears in direct sunlight. This tends to be less of an issue on the side windows, and more of a problem on the windshield. Choosing a product specifically designed to be used on glass can help to avoid this.
Wiper Blade Judder
Using a wax on the windshield risks wiper blade judder which isn’t good at all. Not only can it be very irritating to hear when driving, but it also prevents the wipers from working effectively.
White Marks on the Surrounding Trim
Most waxes and sealants will cause white marks and staining if accidentally applied to the trim. This is a significant risk when applying it to the exterior glass, unless you tape it up. Make sure you use a wax or sealant that doesn’t suffer from this issue, most will say on the back if they do not cause trim staining.
Waxes and sealants do not tend to perform as well on glass as they do on paint. This is especially true on the windscreen. This area is subjected to a lot of abuse from rainwater, bugs, and the windscreen wipers. The process of applying protection to the glass is quite time-consuming, so you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing a product with pretty good durability.
What to Use Instead
So I would be giving you half an answer if I didn’t finish off this post with a few alternatives to using paint sealants and waxes on your glass. So what do I use?
Water Repellent Glass Cleaners
I absolutely love these. They do exactly what they say on the tin. The clean the glass, and leave a hydrophobic layer of protection behind. So you effectively get the best of both worlds, a clean streak and smear-free windscreen, but with added protection.
My two personal favourites are Soft99 Glaco De Cleaner, and Auto-Glanz Vision. But there are plenty out there available worldwide.
I find that these last around 2 months on the back and side windows, and around 2-4 weeks on the windscreen before they need reapplying. But they’re great because it takes just a couple of minutes each time and they’re pretty cheap too.
Glass Sealants and Coatings
If you’re looking for something a bit more durable and something that doesn’t need to be applied as frequently, then you can apply a coating or sealant to the glass.
A lot of these glass coatings incorporate ceramic technology which means they last a very long time. Here are a few examples and their durability claims by the manufacturers.
- Gtechniq G5 Glass Coating: 5 months
- CarPro FlyBy Forte: 6 months to 2 years
- Gyeon Q2 View Coating: 12 months on windscreen, 36 months on side windows
Glass coatings and sealants are a bit more time-consuming to apply, and you’ll need to properly prepare the glass first, but they’re great if you’re looking for something more durable.
Looking for more information on glass coatings? Check out my guide to the best glass coatings and how to use them.
Why Protect the Glass
So why bother protecting and sealing the glass? Here are a few reasons why it’s really beneficial to keep the glass protected.
- It’ll cause water to run off the windshield whilst driving to improve visibility.
- It prevents water spots and stains.
- It helps to keep the glass cleaner for longer.
- This helps to keep extend the life of the windscreen wipers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t worry if you still need some more answers! In this section I’ll be sifting through some of the most frequently asked questions.
How to you remove car wax from a windshield?
Waxes can be removed from the windshield by using a strong cleaner such as a panel wipe solution or all-purpose cleaner designed to be used on car exteriors.
Personally, I like to use Bilt Hamber Surfex HD at around 10% concentration, spray it on, work it in using a mitt and then rinse it off. There are also other products like decontamination shampoos such as Garage Therapy /ZERO: Decontamination Shampoo which is really effective. Alternatively, panel wipe or IPA solutions can be used.
Are waxes or sealants better on glass?
Sealants tend to cause less smearing and streaks on glass than waxes and also tend to last longer. However, it will depend on specific wax or sealant and if it has be formulated to work on glass as well as paint.
Can I use a clay bar on glass?
Clay bars can be used on glass to remove contaminants such as dried bugs, bird poo, water spots and tree sap to leave the surface smooth and flat. Remember to use plenty of lubrication in the form of a car shampoo or clay lube and make sure the clay is clean.
Check out this guide to using clay on glass safely to get the best results.
What towels are best for cleaning and protecting glass?
Microfiber towels are best for glass compared to cotton because they are more effective at cleaning, and less likely to cause streaks. Choose a low-pile microfiber or waffle weave stitch instead of a plush towel to avoid leaving fibres behind on the glass after wiping.
Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the website to learn loads more about keeping your car looking its best!