Q&A / 

What is Smokey Film on Car Windshields and Windows

Smokey Film on Car Windows TIPS

Vicki Mead, who resides in Jonesboro, Arkansas, asked me with a tinge of smoker's guilt this question:

"First of all:  I don't smoke, so that is not an issue.  But there is a film that develops on the INSIDE of the car window.

I live in the sunny south and when the sun strikes that film, it is blinding!  Do you have a solution for that? I don't think the ideas given in your window cleaning videos (which are great for outside windows) would be good for the inside of a car window."


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Here's my response to Vicki:

Vicki, maybe someone is borrowing your car and they're smoking. Just kidding!

The film you see is created by all the plastic that's inside your car.

When your car is out in the sun, the sun heats up the interior to 130-145F or so. This heat creates off-gassing of the plastic dashboard and all other components.

The plastic molecules get into the air and then settle on the glass surfaces.

It's easy to remove it with just a soap and water solution. I use any decent liquid dish soap and water.

It's important to wash the glass when it's cool and in the shade. I prefer to wash my truck glass in the morning when I know the glass is cool.

I wash it twice with soapy water made from regular liquid dish soap. Rinse out the sponge well in the soapy solution as you wash.

Then you need to rinse well with clear water. Rinse twice using fresh water each time.

Dry the glass with an old, but decent, bath towel.

The glass will look like new. If you get streaks, that means you don't have all the plastic crap off the glass yet. Repeat the cleaning process.

IMPORTANT TIP:  NEVER get into your car if it's been sitting in the sun without opening both doors and allowing fresh outdoor air to replace the polluted air in the car. Inhaling that plastic could cause lung cancer or cause you to grow a tail, fins or something!!!!

CLICK HERE  to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local window cleaning companies - seriously - that can get your car windows perfectly CLEAN!


18 Responses to What is Smokey Film on Car Windshields and Windows

  1. I've found that a small squeegee works much better than any absorbent wiper for window cleaning, even the windshield. I stuff a towel into the narrow space at the bottom to catch runoff, and use a second towel to wipe the rubber blade dry after each swipe. No streaks or smears!

  2. Tim,
    I know you are an alchemist, but how do you know all these things?
    Actually, you must be a Wizard! I always wondered what was fouling my windshield on the interior. I thought it was from running the heater or AC. I'll be darned! Thanks for the tip.

    • Fred - Ha, ha, ha! I thought that, too, though - how does he know this?! I thought it was just the dirt from the outside world getting in when the doors open or from the vents. Interesting.

  3. Another idea: If you use an automated car wash consider putting the car's vent system on recirculate when you run through. Theory being, the waxes and whatever else they spray on the car may be being sucked in and coating everything. If you can smell it, it's in there.

  4. At DollartreeI bought some short handled little cleaners that are microfiber over a thin layer of foam the cleaning pad is triangular. They are easy to work down into the narrow space at the bottom .

  5. I do not use soap. If you want to get all that off the windshield, just get a clean microfiber towel, wipe it down really well. The buildup only occurs more often when you leave a soap residue on them. Do not use any chemical.

    • DeWayne,

      If you feel this way, then from now on do NOT use any soap on your body in the shower. Just rub your skin with that same microfiber towel.

      I've interviewed the TOP window washing companies in the USA - the ones that clean skyscraper glass windows.

      Guess what the guys use in the buckets??? Water with a small amount of standard liquid dish soap.

      Do all a favor. Please stop leaving comments about topics that you don't have a background in. If you were a professional window washer, then some might listen. Tell us what you do for a living.

    • Doubtful. I'm sure the inside of the car will still get hot enough for the plastic to off-gas. You just need to clean the glass every two months. Follow my directions. It's EASY. Use an old towel to dry, not paper towels that leave pesky lint.

  6. I cleaning almost every day it keeps coming back drives me crazy. I just got my car in March does it ever stop

  7. Any idea on how this would be happening in a bathroom? The right side of my mirror and the medicine cabinet on the adjacent wall keep developing a light brown haze. The sink is below this area and there is a light bar above the mirror and an outlet and a switch under the medicine cabinet. I've turned off the electric, covered air vent but it still comes back. This started last fall and I can't figure out where it is coming from or what it is. It cleans with water but (soap or window cleaner works better). It is only in the downstairs bathroom.

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