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What Causes Windshield Haze and How to Remove It!

Have a thin coat of haze or film on your windshield? This can be dangerous, especially at night and or when it is raining. In this post, I’ll share a few common reasons for why this happens, and how to remove it using a few products you may already have at home.

Once you have your windshield crystal clear, I’ll share a few tips to help keep your windshield haze and streak-free.

So what causes windshield haze?

Windshield haze can appear for a few different reasons: off-gas from a vinyl or plastic dashboard, smoking in the cabin, or dirt and grime on the exterior.

No matter what type of haze you are experiencing, the good news is you can remove it with the right products and techniques.

1. Offgas from vinyl or plastic

offgas haze on windshield

If you recently bought a new vehicle, a process called off-gassing can form a haze on the inside of your windshield. Offgass occurs when heat vaporizes the plastic on your dashboard, causing it to settle on your windshield. As a result, you may notice a smoke-like film for a few weeks or months.

The offgas process normally ends after a couple of months and is more likely to occur if you leave your car in the sun.

2. Smoking

Smoking may also be the culprit of windshield haze, and often stubborn to remove. It’s especially important to remove carcinogens, as they can be more difficult to remove over time.

3. Engine or heater coolant

In rare cases, a leak in your engine or heater coolant can produce a green or colored haze on your windshield; these chemicals will enter via the vents. Coolant leaks will have a strong smell and tend to bake on the windshield when trapped for an extended period of time.

Always fix any leaks as soon as possible; air your vehicle out if you suspect a coolant leak to avoid breathing in these chemicals.

4. Hard water, acid rain, dirt, or other substances on the outside

Haze commonly affects the outside of the windshield, and is commonly caused by:

  • Acid rain
  • Tree sap or pollen
  • Hard water
  • Improperly applied windshield cleaners

If you have a lot of calcium buildup on your windshield as a result of hard water, check out this blog post to learn how to deal with this common problem.

5 products to remove haze from your windshield

Products to Remove Windshield Haze

Depending on the type of haze, you may need to use a few different products. When cleaning windshields, you can safely apply more pressure than you would on car paint.

1. White vinegar and water 

If you need a simple and safe home remedy to remove windshield haze, mix white vinegar and water at a 10% vinegar-to-water ratio. You can up the percentage depending on how severe your haze is. Simply spray it on the windshield and

2. Ammonia-free glass cleaner spray

Armor All makes a pretty good glass cleaner that you can use to treat your windshield that is ammonia-free you can pick up on Amazon for about 7 bucks. It does the trick, it’s super affordable, and you can find it anywhere.

Glass Cleaner Spray

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Invisible Glass also makes a quality liquid spray.

3. Invisible Glass or another aerosol glass cleaner

I do like the Invisible Glass aerosol product, especially if you have exterior haze caused by dirt of organic substances. It’s my favorite glass cleaner for maximum clarity.

Quick Tip: Allways buff off Invisible Glass (an other aerosol products) with a microfiber towel after the initial application. If you don’t wait for the product to dry, it’s very common to see a thin haze form.

Invisible Glass Aerosol Spray

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Invisible Glass cleaner aerosol

Again, this product is a staple in the detailing community and the best I’ve ever used.

4. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser [For Removing Stuck on Substances]

When dipped in water, a Magic Eraser actually removes stuck-on substances like adhesives quite well; even though slightly abrasive, you don’t have to worry about scratching glass.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

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For extreme cases where you have thick, visible film (especially in the interior), give it a try.

5. Rubbing alcohol  [For Hard to Remove Substances]

For smoke residue and other stuck-on substances, rubbing alcohol is a great option to try when traditional glass cleaners aren’t working.

Rubbing alcohol I would dilute about 5 to 1 to start; the alcohol will strip off basically any layer of grease, smoke, and other contaminants.

Tips when cleaning

  • Use microfiber towels if you have them in order to prevent streaking…glass microfiber towels especially. Microfiber towels won’t leave behind particles as paper or terry cotton towels will.
  • Avoid ammonia-based cleaners on tint. They can discolor tint, as well as cause it to peel and crack.

How to prevent windshield haze

Exterior

  • One product that I like to use to prevent exterior windshield haze is Rain-X. It comes in a few different varieties, I prefer the liquid.  Not only does it help prevent water from drying and possibly forming a film, but it also repels other substances (like pollen) from sticking.
  • A haze will form when applying Rain-X which is normal. Once dry, simply buff with a microfiber towel to remove excess haze. Be sure to read the application instructions for best results and do not apply to the interior surface!

Interior

  • A good windshield sunshade is a great product to limit the risk of offgas if you park outside; plus it will help prevent fading over time. While haze may seem harmless, it can obstruct your view of the road (especially at night, or in the fog and rain). The best thing to do is to keep your windshield clean and protected at all times.

Ready to wash and detail like a pro?

Now that you know how to remove haze, why stop there? Getting great results inside and out isn’t difficult..but you do need to know some basic fundamentals. That’s why we created the Washing and Detailing for Beginners video course.

Ready to improve your washing and detailing skills?

This video course unpacks the fundamentals of washing and detailing. From exterior cleaning and blemish removal…you’ll learn the secrets that will give you spotless pro-level results!

Have any other ideas or suggestions that have worked for you on windshield haze? Let us know in the comments.

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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