why gas station squeegee is bad for paint and glass

Of all the no-no’s in the car wash universe the gas station squeegee with attached water blade is one of those seemingly harmless devices I admit I have been guilty of using in my younger days. 

We’ve all seen them and if I had to guess many of us have used them…but should you? In this post, I’ll break down 4 good reasons why you should avoid gas station squeegees, and what to do as an alternative.

1. They Lead to Scratching If Used on Paint

While most people use them for windshields, never ever use these on car paint. If you aren’t familiar with how scratches form, it basically results from a hard surface (like your car’s hood) making contact with another, more jagged hard surface — like a tiny microscopic rock wedged inside the foam of a cheap gas station squeegee.

The thing about washing cars safely is that the soap really is key to the whole operation. It provides lubrication, causing dirt to slide off your vehicle. Since most solution found in these squeegee buckets are basically diluted window cleaners, this does not offer the lubrication you need. All it takes is a simple swipe, and anything trapped in the foam or stuck on the blade will eventually scratch your vehicle. Even if the water you dip the squeegee in is clean, it’s impossible to remove debris without proper lubrication.

2. They Can Scratch Paint and Glass

Even if you don’t use a squeegee to contact paint (which you obviously shouldn’t) they can actually scratch the glass of your vehicle if not careful.

These micro-scratches can appear on your glass, and can be impossible to remote without using a buffer tool, which is why it’s really not worth the risk. This is a pretty common problem I’ve heard about, especially when the sponge on the squeegee is worn out. 

**Note: Your insurance company may not cover windshield or paint scratches not associated with a rock or flying object. If it looks to be caused by a squeegee or handheld object, you may be out of luck.

3. The Squeegee and Water are Usually Filthy

There’s a reason why the wash containers holding the squeegee are black…because the water inside of them is 9 times out of 10 filthy in my experience. Everything from engine oil to bug guts, to brake dust, it’s hard to find clean solution anymore.

Dirty water also guarantees you will have some amount of streaking, and in my experience dirty dried water makes your windshield look even worse than before.

4. Are There Times When It’s Okay?

All this being said, I do agree there are some isolated times where it may be okay to use a squeegee with relatively clean water on your windshield only. In mountains, or driving down a dusty road in an older vehicle? Go for it. But if you have a relatively new daily driver, you probably just want to avoid them altogether if you can. Most of the time your windshield will probably be okay until you can hand wash it, and isn’t a chance worth taking in my opinion.

One Last Note

Whenever you’re cleaning a car windshield, the squeegee in general is regarded by detailers as one of the most dangerous devices to contact car paint because of tiny particles that you simply can’t remove without claying. Some people use them only for drying, but they aren’t as safe as simply drying by hand.

 Even with a clean professional blade and clean solution, you can still scratch paint and is much more likely with a cheap foam squeegee marinated in filth. If you’re in the parking lot and looking for alternatives, here are a few additional options to keep in mind.

  • Alternative 1: Use Your Wiper Fluid as a Last Resort

For most vehicles, using wiper fluid to remove bugs is usually pretty harmless as long as you keep clean wiper fluid. For most people it’s usually fine, but I’d stay away from using any rubber blade if you drive a luxury vehicle and have dirt, sand, or another abrasive substance stuck on your windshield.

  • Alternative 2: Keep Waterless Sprays or Glass Cleaners in the Car

If you’re at a gas station right now, you may want to go inside and grab a glass cleaner and soft towel in the automotive section to keep in your console or trunk for times like this. As a safer alternative, start with a waterless car wash product before applying a glass cleaner.

Waterless products designed for windows and paint are  much safer to use because they contain lubricants that can safely remove dirt. As long as you use clean towels and a lubricating product, you really don’t need to ever pick up one of those filthy squeegees ever again.