Written By
Published Jul. 3, 2018

Of all the car cleaning and detailing products out there today, one dedicated solely to the windshield may not be one that immediately comes to mind as a stand out product to invest in. After all, it’s easy to understand why an investment in a good wax is a good idea, as does springing out for the best carpet and upholstery cleaner – heck, even buying the best quality wheel cleaner makes sense.

But the windshield? Nah, just give it a good rub with an old rag, end of story. Except, if you really care for your cars appearance – and your own safety – that shouldn’t be the end of the story. The best windshield washer can really help to improve the car’s appearance, giving you a clean and shiny finish that compliments a well cared for vehicle.

It can also improve your visibility in a range of weather and light conditions, helping to keep you safe. Once you know it can do all this for just a few dollars, it becomes a much simpler decision to take to invest in a high quality windshield washer.

Best Rated Windshield Washer

Whilst many – in fact most – windshield washers are designed to go into the washer fluid reservoir and be sprayed onto the screen, this is not the case with the first item on out list. If anyone is in a good place to make a more unique product it is certainly Rain-X however, who have been producing windshield liquids for over 40 years.

This product is quite like a wax, but for glass. So it is applied directly to the windshield where it is worked in with a clean sponge or microfiber towel – and a bit of elbow grease, supplied by you. Once in place it effectively forms a protective barrier, the most notable feature of which is that it causes water to “bead” on the windshield surface. This makes rainwater run off the windshield very easily, improving your vision in the rain.

 

Key Features
  • A Rub-On Water Repellent
  • Improves Visibility
  • Improves Wiper Blade Performance
  • Easy to Use
  • Also Cleans and Restores Headlights
Specification
  • Brand Rain-X
  • Model 800002243
  • Weight 0.16 oz

Prestone are of course a well-known brand with a reputation for quality and this windshield washer fluid represents the top end of the products they put out – it does have to though, since it has Deluxe right there in the title.

It also has 3-in-1 in the product name too, so what are those 3 elements? Well the first is designed to help you out in cold weather, being a built in de-icer that will strip the ice from your windshield (the product is also safe from freezing in temperatures up to -27F).

The second element is a powerful cleaning agent to tackle anything from bug splatter to tree sap or any other stubborn staining and debris. The third element is water repelling beading technology to help rainwater quickly run off the windshield.

As we’ve said before, it’s great to see multiple actions included in one product. It can help to keep the windshield looking great – and improve your visibility – in a range of challenging conditions.

Key Features
  • Designed to Work in all Weathers
  • Built in De-Icer
  • Protected against Freezing to -27F
  • Built in Bug Wash
  • Water Repellent Beading Technology
Specification
  • Brand Prestone
  • Model AS658
  • Weight 8 lbs

What is it with Germany and making great windshield washer fluid? This is another OEM product, this time from BMW. Essentially, you can simply re-read the description of the product above, and every time we say Mercedes Benz substitute in the word BMW.

One interesting thing to note with this product is that it is slightly cheaper than the Mercedes version, though it is a very small bottle. You may have to buy two, which will give you about a liter of product, but for a slightly lower price than one bottle of Mercedes fluid.

 

Key Features
  • BMW Quality Product
  • Streak Free Cleaning
  • Low Freezing Point (Depending on Dilution)
Specification
  • Brand BMW
  • Model 83-19-2-221-702
  • Weight 1 lb

First off, lets clear up any misunderstandings right now; this is not a wash for your pet bugs. If you want to keep your bugs clean, you need something else. If however you are always finding bugs plastered all over your windshield then this could be the product for you.

What we have here is a product designed to create a protective barrier across the windshield surface. What this does in turn is stop things like bugs – and also things like general road grime, tree sap and bird droppings – from sticking to the glass. When they do, the product is specially formulated to break down bug residue, so you can spray, activate the wipers and have a clean, smear free windshield as you drive.

 

Key Features
  • Removes Bug Residue
  • Also Removes Grime & Tree Sap
  • Cleans to a Streak Free Shine
  • Has a Lovely Citrus Odor
Specification
  • Brand Prestone
  • Model AS657
  • Weight 8.65 lbs

Interesting story about this product – and no that’s not a contradiction in terms, this is an interesting story about windscreen washer fluid. If you buy a brand new car in Germany, it will be delivered to you with this stuff in the washer reservoir – it was specifically designed for this purpose.

To that end, it is a high end, top quality product with a range of useful features. It is strong enough to tackle bug splatter and other tough stains and bits of road grime. It does this whilst also leaving behind a smear free, anti-glare finish for great road vision. It is very concentrated – this small 8.5 fl. oz bottle makes 12 gallons of top quality washer fluid, representing excellent value.

Oh, and this is the second product on the list that has a pleasant citrus scent. Again, we’re not sure why.

Key Features
  • Glare & Smear Free Finish
  • Removes Dirt, Grime and Bugs
  • Makes over 12 Gallons of Fluid
  • Ammonia Free
  • Citrus Scent
Specification
  • Brand Nextzett
  • Model 92100815
  • Weight 9.6 oz

This is a pretty basic product in a lot of ways. Yes, it has a reasonable amount of power to allow it to tackle bugs, grime and other stains and bits of dirt you may find on the windshield. It doesn’t quite have the bells and whistles that you’ll find on more premium products however, such as a formulated anti-smear finish.

It is however simply phenomenally good value – it is in fact one of the best value products on the list today. Each tube comes with 25 tablets. Each tablet dissolves in 1x gallon of normal tap water to produce a gallon of washer fluid.

Key Features
  • Great Value
  • Easy Storage, Easy to Use
  • Each Tablet makes 1 Gallon of Fluid
  • Tackles Dirt and Grime
Specification
  • Brand 303 Products
  • Model 230371
  • Weight 1.6 oz

This is another product that puts value at the forefront. You can mix about 55 gallons of washer fluid, making it a little more cost effective per gallon that the 303Product tablets we looked at before – though this is not as user friendly as the simple little tablets.

The resulting fluid is designed to tackle the usual suspects – road grime, tree sap, exploded bugs, etc. It also boasts a streak-free formula, which is always great to see.

Key Features
  • Ultra Concentrated
  • Great Value
  • Strong Cleaning with Streak Free Shine
Specification
  • Brand Sanco Industries
  • Model 88007
  • Weight 2.4 lbs

Our second entry from Rain-X, and this is another product formulated to tackle those pesky bugs. Because you have the Rain-X formulation here, you’re getting a great standard washer fluid as the base. So it has the streak free formulation and advanced water beading technology you expect from Rain-X.

To this has been added the power to tackle bugs and other types of grime the road can kick up at your windshield. That’s a pretty impressive range of features really, taking the original Rain-X with its water repelling abilities and adding a powerful cleaning agent. That could really help to keep your windshield looking great, and help to keep your vision clear in a range of situations.

Key Features
  • 1-Gallon Size (No Diluting)
  • Tackles Bugs & Other Dirt
  • Streak Free Finish
  • Forms a Protective Surface to “Bead” Water
Specification
  • Brand Rain-X
  • Model RX68806
  • Weight 9.9 lbs

In case you didn’t know, OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. What this means is that this windshield washer has been created and manufactured by Mercedes Benz for use in Mercedes Benz vehicles. Don’t worry though; it won’t melt the washer reservoir in a Ford, you can use it in any vehicle.

If you do, then you are of course getting a premium product here. Mercedes Benz are one of the most well known auto makers in the world, with a well deserved reputation for producing premium vehicles – that reputation also extends to the products they make to put into those vehicles.

Key Features
  • Mercedes Benz Quality
  • Excellent Cleaning Quality
  • Premium Product (With a Premium Price Tag!)
Specification
  • Brand Mercedes Benz
  • Model a002986147109
  • Weight 3.04 oz

If you tend to drive a lot in cold conditions, this windshield washer fluid is specially designed to stop your car from icing over, which helps to improve your safety and reduces your risk of getting involved in an accident. The solution is hyper concentrated, providing over a gallon of washer fluid. And this means that you are unlikely to need to buy another bottle anytime soon, which makes it a smart choice economically.

You either have the option of mixing it with your existing windscreen washer fluid or with water to create the solution to wash down your windscreen. One thing that many car owners are concerned about is potential damage to their paint or the surrounding trim of their vehicle, but this fluid promises not to damage either of them, so you can continue using it without worry.

Key Features
  • Works with all windscreen waster fluids or water
  • No streaking when it cleans windshields
  • Designed to prevent your windscreen from re-icing over
  • Hyper concentrated solution offers plenty of usage
  • Easy to remove heavy snow fall from your vehicle
Specification
  • Brand McKee's 37
  • Model MK37-541
  • Weight 8.3 pounds

Best Windshield Washer Buying Guide & FAQ

What should you be looking for when it comes to selecting your windshield washer fluid? After all, it’s perhaps a little more complicated than even we gave it credit for, with today’s products boasting some highly advanced formulas that deliver a range of features. We’ll take a look at some of the features to bear in mind, as well as some tips on how to use your selected product efficiently.

We’ll also answer some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about windshield liquid that we get asked – and there are a surprising amount of them.

windshield liquid

Features to Look For When Buying Windshield Washer

  • Water Repelling – Well, it won’t actually repel water – this is a car windshield we’re talking about here, not Harry Potter’s glasses. Still, some washer fluids will be formulated to encourage water to “bead” on the windshield surface. Essentially, this keeps the rainwater in big fat drops that easily run off the surface, making your wipers more effective and improving your vision in poor conditions. Could be something to consider if you live somewhere rainy (hello Seattle).
  • Dilution – More of a matter of value and storage. Some kinds of windshield liquids are phenomenally powerful, delivered to you in a small bottle to be diluted with regular water to be added to the washer reservoir. You can get better value with products that need dilution, but the other type is easier to use.
  • Scent – Several of the products that made out list had a scent, usually a citrus based one. We don’t really get it but if you want your windshield to smell like a lemon than look for a scented washer fluid we guess.
  • Streak Free Finish – Just like we said up top it’s all about that finish! Streaks on the glass are the same as whirls in the paintwork – they look like crap and ruin the car’s aesthetic. The best windshield washer can clean without leaving streaks behind.
  • Anti-Freeze Technology – Skip if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where the mercury never dips below zero. If you don’t then check out whether your product has built in anti-freeze. Diluted products will likely have less anti-freeze tech, as a lot of the bulk is water you add to the formula. You can chuck in some 90% proof alcohol from the hardware store to improve the resistance to freezing.

Benefits of Using a Windshield Washer

  • Improved Safety. The majority of weather related accidents happen in the rain, and a large part of that can be down to reduced visibility. A good car window washer fluid will help to improve your visibility in the rain.
  • Better Detailing. If you’re putting effort into making the whole car look great, why stop at the windshield?
  • Ease of Use. This is one of the simpler products to use that, at the same time, can help make your car look great and improve your safety. Not bad, huh?
  • Healthy Windshield. By keeping your windshield clean you can spot chips earlier and have them repaired before they become a bigger issue.

Windshield Washer Types

There are essentially two types of window washer, both of which are represented in our list above. They are Window Cleaners and Washer Fluid.

  • Cleaners – These are more like detailing products. You apply them directly to the windshield with a micro-fiber towel or something similar. You clean the glass and it should leave behind a protective residue of some sort, ideally to help water beading.
  • Washer Fluid – This is what most of us probably think of when we think of windshield washer. It goes into the reservoir tank under the hood and you spray it onto the windshield, usually when driving. As you use it to clean the glass, you want a product that boasts a strong cleaning power as the number one feature.

In an ideal world you’ll probably use a mixture of the two. Use a cleaner when you are cleaning and detailing the car help make the windscreen look great. Then use a good quality washer fluid when you’re driving to keep it looking awesome (and keep your visibility through the glass as high as possible).

Common Reasons Why Car Windshields Crack

Whilst we’re on the subject of Windshields, let’s take a moment to consider why they crack. As we said above, one of the good reasons to keep your windshield clean is that it is a great way to monitor the overall health of the windshield – including spotting a dreaded crack nice and early.

But why do windshields crack? Well, there is actually a wide range of reasons – probably more than we thought until we started to research it.

The best people to learn about glass from are the people who make the stuff. The body that represents the glass industry has written this article here specifically about windshields. If you’re interested in learning why windshields crack (and so avoiding as many of them as you can) we recommend giving it a read.

Best Windshield Washer FAQ:

Q:  How do windshield washers work?

Windshield washers work by providing an extra element of cleaning power to allow them to tackle the dust, dirt and grime that can build up on the windscreen surface. In addition to that, many premium brands also bring some extra features to the mix. They could be designed as anti-freeze to remove ice build up. They can form a barrier that causes water to bead and spray off the windshield faster, improving your vision in the rain. They can even have a citrus odor if you want your windshield to smell like a fruit.

Q:  What’s wrong with just water?

Water just doesn’t have any of the features we mentioned above. It doesn’t really have the built in cleaning tech to tackle serious grime, especially things like tree sap or bugging splatter. In those cases, it can just smear it all over the windshield, making it look dreadful and affecting your ability to see through the glass. Untreated water also has a very low freeze point.

Q:  What’s in windshield washer fluid?

Each manufacturer has different ingredients, mixed to different ratios specific to their own recipe. It will likely contain methanol or ethanol to a certain extent (as anti-freeze agent) and other ingredients depending on whether the product boasts anti-freeze, water beading or extra strong cleaning ability. If you are concerned, the packaging of the product should contain either a full ingredient list or highlight any hazardous materials & their quantities.

Q:  How can I add windshield washer fluid to my vehicle?

The best thing to do is to check out the vehicle manufacturer instructions and double check, but broadly speaking it’s relatively simple. Find the washer reservoir, open the lid and fill it up. It should be marked with a Maximum Fill Line, if not check the vehicle instructions and specifications for the fluid capacity of the system.

Q:  What should I do if the fluid is frozen?

If you press the spray button whilst driving and nothing happens then don’t press it again, especially if you think the washer fluid has frozen as this can damage the whole mechanism. Since fluid expands when it freezes, you need to check for leaks once it has thawed, and repair any pipes or the reservoir tank itself. In the future, consider getting wiper fluid that has better anti-freeze technology, or pick up a bottle of 90% alcohol from the hardware store and mix it into your washer fluid to raise its freezing point.

Our Top Pick

We’re all about the high quality finish here at Car Bibles, which is why we’re going to plump for The Rain-X Glass Treatment product as out top pick. Yes, right off the bat we will happily acknowledge this is the product that takes the most effort to use. You don’t just spray it and flick the windshield wipers on, job done.

But we also know that you guys love your cars, that’s why you come here to find the products that are going to be the best for them – and the Rain-X product fits the bill. Work it in on an afternoon when you’re detailing your car, it won’t add more than 10 minutes to your routine.

For that extra effort you’ll get a shiny windshield that looks great and functions better than ever, a windshield that actively repels for better vision in the rain. That is a lot of advantages for a product that costs less than 10 bucks, making it, in our eyes at least, the best windshield washer on the list.

Sources:

  1. Weather Related Accidents – fhwa
  2. Why Do Windshields Crack? – Glass

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