General Question

janbb's avatar

Help me clean my windshield?

Asked by janbb (57138points) August 17th, 2015

Some gunk seems to have come out of the windshield cleaner spray or somewhere and is sticking on my windscreen. The mechanic has drained the wiper fluid container but cannot get the sides clean. Nor does vinegar, nor could the car wash….

I’m not really sure what the stains are or if they indeed did come from the cleaner although it had been smearing quite a bit – even through two sets of new blades.

Anyone have an idea of how to get it clean? It does not feel oily or greasy to the touch.

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38 Answers

picante's avatar

You might try acetone, if you’ve not already, and/or Goo Gone.

Good luck!

snowberry's avatar

If it’s only on the windscreen, you can use solvents such as @picante mentioned. But I avoid toxins such as those if I don’t have to use them.

I’m guessing it’s tree sap. If that’s what it is, you can easily remove it by smearing a grease such as cooking oil on the spots, let it sit a bit, then a drop or two of dish detergent with a little water, and rinse. Don’t forget to clean your wipers too.

If it isn’t sap, try dipping a wet finger in baking soda and rubbing on the spot. That’s a great nontoxic and non-scratch way to remove just about anything.

Buttonstc's avatar

And after you get it off and have a windshield of miscellaneous assorted cleaning products and stuff, give it a good overall wash and a good rinse.

Then if you want it to look really sparkly clean, take plain old newspaper sheets balled up to dry it streak free. If you’ve never used old newspaper sheets on a windshield before, prepare to be surprised at how good the whole thing looks when finished.

janbb's avatar

So far I haven’t tried the solvents but neither of the greener solutions have worked. Nor have Armour wipes.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Try to determine what it’s soluable in, if not water try alcohol or as a last resort something petroleum based.

jerv's avatar

My usually go-to cleaner for things I can’t get off any other way is acetone, though I’ve been known to hose things with naptha as well. I’ve actually used carb cleaner as windshield cleaner in a pinch and it does a great job of getting down to bare glass. If you had Rain-x on your windshield, well, “had” is correct as carb cleaner would put it in the past tense. However, all of those will damage wiper blades and other rubber (like windshield gaskets) in odd ways, so it’s best to not spray it on, but rather to spray in into clean rags or paper towels and wipe on.

As for “greener” solutions, my experience is that they generally can’t cut through the stubborn stains, especially not sap, and one of the few exceptions, Simple Green, may be able to clean an engine block but is ill-suited as a glass cleaner; it streaks on windows and mirrors.

This from a machinist who is accustomed to all sorts of solvents for a variety of cleaning needs.

janbb's avatar

I’m thinking of taking it to Pep Boys and seeing what they recommend.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you tried bleach?

snowberry's avatar

I have successfully removed tree sap multiple times in the method I described above. Carb cleaner is extremely toxic! Use extreme caution!

janbb's avatar

It’s not sticky at all but seems almost embedded in the windshield. I am loath to use toxins too so I think I will take it to Pep Boys next.

janbb's avatar

I thank you all for all your good suggestions. Will update when I find the solution.

jca's avatar

Take it to a body shop. The body shop people have seen all kinds of issues and this sounds right up their alley.

janbb's avatar

@jca yes, that would be my next step after Pep Boys.

SmashTheState's avatar

Coconut oil can be used to remove many different types of glue. If coconut oil doesn’t work, try an ordinary hairdryer (or a heat gun if you have one).

kritiper's avatar

Try some Dawn detergent and some very fine steel wool.

ibstubro's avatar

Soak a small piece of sponge or cloth in Awesome all purpose cleaner/degreaser and let it stand on the windshield for 5–10 minutes, scrub with a non-abrasive pot scrubber, then clean with window cleaner.
You can get Awesome cleaner at Dollar Tree for sure, and possibly Dollar General.

I would also consider replacing the windshield wipers, as they are rubber and may have started to deteriorate, causing the smear. Maybe replace one and see if there’s a difference, since both may need replaced after the experimentation.

Let half a lemon set on the windshield for half an hour or so, then clean?

When you tried the car wash, did you concentrate the high pressure wash spray on one specific area for a time? Some times the high pressure is more valuable than the wash, IMO.

janbb's avatar

I’ve replaced the windshield wipers twice in the past 6 months. I also keep getting a “Fill Wiper Fluid” method a week or so after I’ve filled it but it isn’t empty yet. The mechanic thinks there may be a leak in it.

They take the car through the car wash.

ibstubro's avatar

How long has this problem been going on?
More than 6 months?

jca's avatar

Be careful with scrubbing your windshield. A friend of mine was extra enthusiastic with cleaning her windshield, scrubbing too hard (she is a cleaning gung-ho type anyway) and she put permanent scratches in the windshield glass. Be careful when it comes to scrubbing.

janbb's avatar

@ibstubro I would say about 6 months.

snowberry's avatar

Baking soda will never ever scratch. Just sayin’.

ibstubro's avatar

Take your car to the self wash, put in the minimal amount, run until soapy and soap the windshield. In high pressure wash mode, bear down on one section of the windshield, working about a 6–8” square. Rinse off the soap when there’s around 10–15 seconds left on the timer.
See if there’s a difference.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t see how a “leak” could cause smearing. So what did they advise?

janbb's avatar

My next step is a body shop. The car wash didn’t help at all.

ibstubro's avatar

My car gets pretty heavy sap from a walnut tree, @janbb. A ‘car wash’ does little to nothing for it. But if I take the car to the manual wash and soap it down, I can then ‘water blast’ (like sand blasting) the sap off by high-power washing it slowly with the nozzle inches from the car.

Only a couple of bucks to try.

janbb's avatar

Got it, thanks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hmmm. Sounds like you’re going to have to replace the windshield. I hate that. The deductible is higher than the cost to replace the windshield.

jca's avatar

If you do replace the windshield, look into getting it covered under your insurance, if you have glass coverage.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I’m sure it is covered under her general car insurance policy, but replacing the windshield is about the same as the deductible you have to pay…depending on your deductible, of course.

jca's avatar

I had a windshield replaced once. I don’t think I had to pay deductible. I don’t remember. Anyway it doesn’t matter. Every policy is different. Worth looking into is all I’m saying.

ibstubro's avatar

I think windshield is outside my deductible, too, @jca. But there would likely have to be more damage than smear.

SmashTheState's avatar

It sounds like it could be damage to some kind of coating, like tint or anti-scratch. Have you tried using a razor blade to see if you can scrape it up off the glass? If it is, you can just peel the whole layer off.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am just dying to know what the problem is!!!

ibstubro's avatar

Roll a lemon on the counter until it’s starting to feel soft.
Cut it in half and dip the cut end in baking soda.
Scrub the heck out of a small portion of your windshield.
Rinse and dry.
How’s it look?

I’m applying advice on acids and abrasives from previous answers so don’t beak my nose if it doesn’t work. Trying to give @snowberry‘s beloved~ baking soda a boost.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You guys…the mechanic thinks there is something wrong with the windshield itself. It’s nothing that can be scrubbed away.

janbb's avatar

No @Dutchess_III, it is something that got onto the windshield but it doesn’t appear to be sticky. There was a leak in the wiper container that they have now lessened. My guess is that something leached into the fluid through the leak and got on it. The fluid was smearing the shield but now that they have drained it it is not smearing any more but there are still smears outside the wiper area that won’t come off.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, sorry. I misread one of your posts.

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