If you’re noticing a lot of streaking or squeaking when driving in the rain then it could be a sign that your windshield wiper blades need a deep clean. In this article I’ll explain how to clean your wipers and the best tools and chemicals to use.
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What You’ll Need
- Automotive glass cleaner
- Automotive all-purpose-cleaner (APC)
- Microfiber towels (Amazon link)
- Detailing brush (Amazon link)
- WD-40 (Amazon link)
Step #1 Lift and Inspect the Wiper Blades
Before you go ahead and actually clean your wipers, you need to check the condition. If you notice any cracking or excessive wear, then it’s best to just replace the wiper blades rather than clean them. The same goes for blades which have been on the car for many years.
Step #2 Clean the Rubber Wiper Blades
Next, take either your APC or glass cleaner (whichever you prefer) and spray it onto the microfiber towel so it’s damp but not totally saturated. Then, pinch the microfiber towel around the top of the rubber blade and run it down the entire blade. You don’t need to pinch very hard but apply a little bit of pressure.
You will probably notice some black/ brown/ green transfer on the microfiber. Repeat this process a couple of times using a fresh section of microfiber each time.
You don’t need to repeat this until there is no black transfer at all. This is because you can start to degrade and remove some of the actual rubber itself resulting in the black transfer onto the towel. Just do it a few times on each wiper and you should be good to go.
Step #3 Clean the Plastic or Metal Part of the Wiper
Take your APC and a clean microfiber towel, and wipe the excess dirt off the plastic/ metal part of the wiper. You can also use a detailing brush to get into the more intricate areas around the hinges and then wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.
Step #4 Apply Some WD-40 to the Hinges
When deep cleaning all the metal/ plastic components in step #3, you’re likely to have removed all the lubricant from the hinges as well as the dirt. In order to keep your wipers running smoothly, spray some WD-40 into the hinges to lubricate them. Use your microfiber towels to help shield the other areas and wipe clean if necessary.
Check the Condition of Your Glass
Sometimes it’s not actually the wiper blades that are causing streaks when driving in the rain, or resulting in a squeaking or creaking sound. Sometimes, it’s actually the glass itself.
Make sure you frequently clean your glass using an automotive glass cleaner. Avoid using a household glass cleaners on a vehicles as these often contain ammonia which can damage the tint.
If when you wipe the windscreen with a damp microfiber you notice that the finish does not look uniform, and you spot some streaks (see the image below) then your glass is contaminated with chemical and water stains. This reduces visibility when driving in the rain.
How to Deep Clean Your Windshield
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Here’s what you’ll need:
- Automotive glass cleaner
- Clay bar or mitt (Amazon link)
- Glass polish (e.g. Soft99 Glaco Compound – Amazon link)
- Short-pile, lint-free microfiber towels (Amazon link)
Here are the steps to follow:
- Clean the windshield using an automotive glass cleaner and microfiber towel
- Use a clay bar/ mitt and your glass cleaner as a lubricant to remove any bonded contaminants
- Apply your glass polish to a microfiber towel or use the built-in applicator if using the Soft99 Glaco Compound and work the polish in using either circular or cross-hatch patterns.
- Rinse the glass polish away and dry using a clean microfiber towel.
If you follow these steps your glass should be free from all chemical and water stains. You can check this by wiping it with a damp microfiber towel. If the finish looks even and free from streaks when damp, then you’re good to go! Otherwise, repeat steps 3-4.
Check out this video to see the process.
Apply a Glass Coating
I personally always have a glass coating on my windshield as it helps to improve visibility in the rain, and reduces wear and tear on my wiper blades.
My favourite glass coating is Soft99 Ultra Glaco (Amazon link). It lasts around 6 months on a daily driven car from my experience and is really easy to apply.
You simply apply the coating in a cross-hatch pattern using the built-in applicator, wait for 5-10 minutes and then remove the residue using a microfiber towel. It’s also recommended to keep the glass dry for 12 hours after application.
Check out my guide to coating glass for more information