You should always take care when you’re cleaning your windshield, but when you have a cracked windshield, you should take extra precautions to prevent furthering the damage. If you’re not careful, a cracked windshield can easily become a shattered one and then you’ll have to foot the bill for a whole new windshield instead of just having it repaired.
While we do recommend that you have your windshield crack fixed as soon as possible – preferably within a few days – we understand that it’s not always possible. Whatever your reason for waiting may be, you still need a clear view of the road to drive safely. So if you find that you need to clean your cracked glass, follow these steps to make sure you prevent further cracking or shattering.
Avoid Using Paper Products
It may seem like a fairly reasonable conclusion to make. Paper towels and tissue are designed to clean up messes – so you should be able to use them on your dirty car right? Actually, no!
Paper products can leave behind particles and dusty residue when they’re used on glass. This residue can settle in your windshield crack. And although paper towels and tissue may seem soft, they weren’t designed to clean windshields and they can actually scratch the surface of your windshield. Instead, use a microfiber cloth that won’t scratch or leave behind a filmy residue.
Keep Water Out of Cracks
When you’re cleaning your car, you likely soap it up and then spray it down with water. But when you have a crack in your windshield, make sure you’re not spraying water directly on the windshield. Water can get trapped in the crack and weaken the structure of the glass. Weakened glass is more likely to expand and warp, furthering the crack or – worst-case scenario – causing the windshield to shatter.
Obviously this poses a safety risk to you and any passengers you have in the car. The last thing you want is to go over a pothole and, all of a sudden, lose visibility when the windshield shatters. Or worse – end up with pieces of glass flying at your face or into your lap.
Stay Away From the Carwash
If you have a cracked windshield, please, please, please don’t go through an automatic car wash. Yes, they are convenient, but a ten dollar convenience isn’t worth the cost of a new windshield. Automatic carwashes use high-pressure water jets, large, abrasive roller brushes, and high-velocity dryers to clean your car.
This pressure, when applied to the windshield could (and most likely will) can turn a little chip or crack into a much larger crack, or turn a cracked windshield into two completely severed pieces of glass that cannot be repaired.
Use Cleaner Designed for Glass
Whether your windshield is cracked or not, you should be using an auto glass cleaner specifically formulated for your windshield. Do not use dish soap or regular glass cleaner on your windshield – you’ll end up with a streaky mess. Windex and other glass cleaners often contain ammonia, which is very bad for your car. It can eat through any UV tinting you have on your windshield and damage your car’s paint job or finish if is splatters.
Just buy a glass cleaner from the auto aisle in your local superstore or hardware store. And always check the label to make sure it’s ammonia-free and windshield safe. If you don’t want to buy a whole new cleaner, you can also use a mixture of water and vinegar. Just be sure not to spray too much around the crack – just as we mentioned above with water, you don’t want it to get stuck in the crack and erode the glass further.
Be Gentle With Your Cracked Windshield
You shouldn’t have to apply a lot of pressure to your windshield to clean it properly. And you definitely shouldn’t be leaning on it or pressing very hard when your windshield is cracked! The best way to clean your cracked windshield is to cover the crack with clear tape and clean around the damaged area.
If you have stubborn debris or dirt – bird droppings, splattered bugs, or sap from a tree for instance – apply a strong glass cleaner (formulated for windshields!) and let the area soak. Many solvents will start to dissolve these organic messes. Then apply gentle pressure and use circular motions to wipe the mess away.
While these tips are meant to help you clean your cracked windshield, they are not a long term solution. Driving with compromised glass is a safety hazard that can result in obscured vision or severe bodily harm, were the windshield to shatter. So as soon as you can after you notice a crack, call a professional windshield repair company.
Fast Glass Service serves the Central Arkansas and NWA areas – contact us to schedule an appointment, get a quote, or ask any questions you may have about glass repair!