On the face of things, tinted windows are just an aesthetic choice, yet in reality they actually do a lot to protect your vehicle. With this in mind, keeping tinted windows in tip-top condition is an important part of your cleaning routine. In this article, we work our way through some top cleaning tips, before outlining exactly how window tinting works, and what benefits it can bring.
You can usually clean tinted car windows using only products you might find around the house, and the process itself is fairly straightforward. Bear in mind that, in most cases, the colored film used to tint car windows is usually installed on the inside of the window, so you will be able to clean the outside as usual.
- Don’t clean them too soon
When you first have your windows tinted, it’s a good idea to wait for a few days to a week before cleaning them for the first time. This allows plenty of time for the adhesive to properly attach itself to the glass, so it won’t crinkle or come unstuck when you roll the windows down.
Park your car in the shade, where it will dry more slowly. This prevents liquid cleaning products from drying on the surface before you can rinse them away, hence preventing streaks. Cleaning your windows should be the last item on your to-do list, so be sure to wash your vehicle’s body and tires before you begin.
- Know what to avoid
When washing tinted car windows, it’s important to be on the lookout for cleaning products and equipment that damage the tint. When cleaning tinted car windows you should avoid using the following:
Products containing ammonia: Ammonia (NH3) can lighten the color of the tint, as well as causing the film to become more brittle, so more easily damaged.
Abrasive cleaning equipment, such as paper towels, newspaper, and scourers: Abrasive surfaces can leave behind scratches in the surface of the tinted film, so they are best avoided.
Sharp objects such as knives: Sometimes air bubbles appear between a tinted film and the window it covers, and some drivers like to squeeze them to the side with a blade. This is a risky business, however, since using a blade in this way risks leaving cuts in the tint.
- Use the right Products
Most ammonia-free cleaning products are suitable for cleaning tinted windows. If you’re feeling creative and want to save some money you can even make your own: combine two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with a few drops of baby soap in an empty spray bottle, before topping it up with distilled water. For best results, we recommend using your cleaner with a microfiber cloth. Use a separate cloth for the inside and the outside of the windows, to ensure you don’t track dirt from the outer windows to the tint inside. This will make cleaning more difficult, and can lead to scratches on the tinting.
- Wipe down and buff dry your tinted windows
Once you have your tools in place, it’s time to actually clean the windows. Spray some ammonia-free cleaner onto the tint, before wiping away any dust, dirt, or oil. You may need to rinse your cloth in a bucket of water part way through. Next, use another microfiber cloth to carefully dry the surface.
- Use the credit card trick to remove air bubbles
If bubbles appear between the tinted film and glass of your window, they can be removed with a credit card wrapped in a soft cloth. Use the short side of the card to push the bubbles to the edge of the window, where they can espace.
Making sure you clean tinted windows properly is the single best way to ensure that they offer adequate protection for years to come.
How does Window Tinting Work?
Window tinting is installed by the application of a thin, tinted film, usually made from a flexible polymer. There are three main types of tint to choose from:
- Dyed Window Tint Film
As its name suggests, this type of film is dyed to give it a dark tint. It is applied to the inside of the car window using a heat gun and adhesive. From outside the car, the film appears black, but for the driver and passengers within, it appears clear. This type of film is common and relatively inexpensive, but does not provide as much protection against UV radiation as its rivals.
- Metallised Window Tint Film
This type of film contains tiny particles of metal, usually aluminum, which act to reflect UV rays, light, and heat from the sun. They give the car’s window a sleek, almost mirrored finish. These films are usually more expensive than their dyed counterparts, and can occasionally interfere with cell phone and GPS reception. However, they do stand up well against scratches and help prevent shattering in the event of a collision.
- Ceramic Window Tint Film
These films are coated with a thin layer of ceramic, thanks to the assistance of nanotechnology. Ceramic is a great insulator, which allows the car superior protection against heat and UV radiation – without the disruption to cell reception associated with metallised tints. It’s also highly durable and even more resistant to scratches, but is always the costliest tinting option.
Benefits of Car Window Tinting
Tinting your car’s windows comes with a number of benefits, including:
- Blocking 99% of UV radiation, hence protecting skin
- Helping to keep the interior of your car cool
- Protecting your car’s interior against the discoloration caused by UV light
- Keeping the car’s interior at a comfortable temperature, by blocking 35% to 65% of solar heat
- Saving you fuel, by reducing the need for AC or heating
- Helping to prevent glass from shattering during a collision
- Offering enhanced privacy for you and your passengers