[V6-12v] How to get rid of that annoying sheen on the inside of windows

The CyberPoet thecyberpoet at cyberpoet.net
Fri Nov 24 03:25:38 EST 2006

My best guess is it actually tar build-up from smokers (hey, fact of  
life if someone around your car smokes, especially if you have the  
defrosters on, which pumps the smoke fresh against the glass). Also  
applies if you have any smoke-belching factories in the area or  
hanging smog.

Basic concepts: certain chemicals cut tar better than others, and  
newsprint rubbed with significant force against glass will lift the  
tar up.

Old School Method: Newspaper with vinegar or 50% vinegar + 50%  
rubbing alcohol. White vinegar preferred, and a 1.5 QT bottle costs  
about $1.50 in our area. Spray vinegar on the windshield and scrub  
diligently with crumpled newspaper, refold or swapping to new sheet  
of newspaper regularly. Newsprint paper is courser than standard  
paper towels and works really well (brown grocery-store bags come in  
second, but still far ahead of brawny paper towels or equivalent).  
Down-side is labor-intensive and vinegar smell. Windex also makes a  
vinegar version of their glass cleaner that's especially good for  
this particular purpose. Afterwards, you may need to still use a  
windex-style product to remove any soy-bean oils the newsprint left  
behind (by the newsprint fibers will remove the tar).

Field Expedient (BBQ) Method: BBQ-style wet-wipes containing any  
citric acid (like lemon juice), followed by more paper to wipe it  
away. Again, for some reason newsprint and brown grocery bags work  
better than other things for their abrasion and ability to pull in  
tar. As a cig smoker, I always pocket an extra half-dozen wet wipes  
at BBQ places and toss them in the glove-box.

Key West Method: Skip the wet-wipe, use squeezed limes or lemons (or  
pure lime/lemon juice) directly on the crumpled newspaper and scrub.  
Rescrub with dry newspaper until shiny.

Last-straw/ Chemical Method: Clorox Clean-up spray. Cover the dash  
with plastic or aluminum before using, because it won't be nice to  
it. Spray directly onto the glass, rub as above, swapping newspapers  
until really dry. Repeat if necessary to get 100% dry and remove all  
the tar. After being squeeky-clean dry, use traditional windex to  
clean the window again of any hazing or streaking.

Now if the "smokers" aren't smoking tobacco, but something the DEA  
frowns upon, the layer is probably tar + resin, which is much much  
more difficult to remove -- go directly to the Last-straw/ Chemical  
Method and expect to have to repeat more than once. We use Clorox  
Clean-up on all sorts of computer plastics and CRT monitors that are  
getting resold to remove years of cig tar build-up quickly and  
completely, and it works very very well. Note that "Formula 409"  
doesn't work for crud by comparison (nor many of the other cleaning  
products on the market) for this particular purpose.

What normally won't work well: Ammonia-based glass cleaners and paper  
towels as first cleaning -- use only to post-clean any streaking  
after the above methods have succeeded.

=-= Marc

On Nov 24, 2006, at 2:36 AM, Tom Christiansen wrote:

> Folks,
> It's rainy season in the Seattle area these days. This causes the
> windows in my 1994 90S to fog up. The reason is that there's some sort
> of sheen/film/grime on the inside of the windows. I've tried amonia
> free automotive glass cleaner, Windex (or its Safeway equivalent),
> Formula 409 to no avail. I can only distribute this road grime (or
> whatever it is) to a nice even smear that causes the windows to steam
> up when driving in the wet. Do you have any suggestions for how to get
> that stuff off? What do you use to clean the windows?
> Thanks,
> Tom
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> V6-12v at audifans.com
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