How to Clean the Inside of Your Windshield

We all have seen it. That gross, cloudy film that suddenly appears on the inside of your windshield. No one ever notices it until driving directly into the sunlight, when the film decides you don’t need to see the road anymore. And no one ever thinks to clean it off, since it rarely makes an appearance.

Not only is it terrifying, not being able to see the road when your driving, but it can also be a driving hazard. What causes this mysteriously appearing film though? When your windshield was new, the film wasn’t there. So, what causes this icy film to build up and how can we get rid of it?

The (not so) mysterious film

All good questions and I, thankfully, have some answers for you. That film, as mysterious as it may seem, does not suddenly appear on the windshield right as we are driving at the sun.

In fact, the formation of this cloudy layer is a gradual process that takes time and heat. There are several things that attribute to the build-up of this film, one being smoking.


Surprise! Smoking causes smoke and when one is in a confined space, like a car, the smoke particles tend to leach into every material inside. This is a simple process of diffusion or osmosis.

The windshield happens to be an object that is 1) right in front of your face, and 2) has a very large surface area. It’s only natural that smoke particles would stick to and leech into the windshield.

Dust & Dirt

As fewer people are smoking these days, the above cause is probably not something most people must worry about. However, regardless of who the person is, or how hygienic they are, dust and dirt will always be prevalent. Like smoke particles, dust and dirt go everywhere but unfortunately, the windshield happens to be one of the most visible places it goes.

Greasy Outgassing

This is perhaps the main cause of that film developing on your windshield. What is outgassing though? Well as many know, plastic and vinyl in cars are made of crude or synthetic oils.

Though your dash should never feel greasy, the plastic or vinyl in vehicles often break down and leech oil over time. High temperatures will also speed up this process.

The problem with this deterioration process of car plastics is that the oil products that are outgassed are not visible to the naked eye. As the name suggests, the oil is released in a gaseous state and those gas particles tend to stick to the windshield, creating that gross film. And since it’s a type of oil, it can be even more of a challenge to clean than with mere water.

How to fix it

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to stop outgassing from occurring or dust and dirt from seeping to the inside of your car, however, there are things you can do to slow it down and clean it up.

First and most obvious, if you smoke, you need to stop…for so many reasons. Second, park your car in a garage. Not only will this reduce exposure to high temps causing more outgassing, but it will also reduce the amount of dirt that gets in your car. Lastly, always try to park in shady spots, the hotter your car gets, the faster the outgassing.

Clean it

Once again, regardless of what you do, this film will eventually build up on your inner windshield. But, we can offer some ways to effectively clean it off. For all of these solutions, lay a towel down on the dash/area to avoid damage.

  • Give classic glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth a try. You might not need to go full throttle if the layer isn’t too bad.


  • Try some hardcore oil fighting dish soap, water, and a rag. Since this is most likely an oily film, simple dish soap could really be the solution.


  • There are products out there specifically for this purpose if you want to waste/spend money on these, go for it.


  • Crumpled newspaper is also rumored to work. I personally have never tried it, but it doesn’t hurt to try.


All in all, the film isn’t that complicated of an issue nor is it that difficult of a fix. Give all those solutions a try and if none of them work, come back and let me know and I will do further research on how to get rid of this nasty cloudy film. Good luck and happy adventuring.



Author: B. Delamater


  1. Gerry Soucheray on February 20, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Newspaper works wonder!!!! Why?…Because it’s basically lint free. I use that all the time!!

    On a different note is there any scientific intel regarding exploding rear windows if rear window defrosters play more of a factor than a non-defroster window? My 2014, F150 rear sliding window exploded recently. I thought someone broke in. But when I stumbled across a few articles in Google apparently its not all that uncommon. Not to say that it happens more often than not. but it scared the bajesus out of me.

    • Adventure Autoglass on February 23, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      You are right! Newspaper is the bomb diggity!

      I swear to you. And all that is holy. What I know to be true is prior damage (ie: rock hitting window at some point in the past) and with time (yes, probably the pressure from rear defrosters agitating the spot where it was hit) the prior hit will crack at some point. What we would like to do is damage a piece tempered glass and let it sit with a time lapse camera so we can see the crack happen! Wouldn’t that rock? But it would have to be in the car as it traveled because who wants to see a piece of tempered glass in our garage just sitting. Hope that helps. I bet it did scare ya – who needs coffee when have glass shattering around you!

  2. Larry Cook on May 4, 2018 at 3:00 am

    Crumpled newspaper totally work. Not just with cleaning in such kind of situations, but even generally. Newspaper is good to clean glass.

    I agree with you, film isn’t a complicated issue but it’s scary especially if it appears suddenly. Can catch you by surprise.

    The tips you have suggested to avoid it really work. Thanks 🙂

    • Adventure Autoglass on May 9, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Thanks for the input! ROCK ON!

  3. Lary Cook on June 6, 2018 at 2:21 am

    This is by far one of the best articles I have read I wasn’t aware about the smoking point. I will clean the windshield keeping in mind the pointers you have mentioned and follow them for good. Kudos to the writing this is really very helpful.

    • Adventure Autoglass on June 6, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by Lary! We try to be as helpful as possible with our posts, sometimes we go on rants, but usually we can get our point across. Thanks again!

  4. Gail on March 21, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Crumpled newspaper is great, but covered with not-so-great oil-based ink. Better still, see if your newspaper sells “end rolls,” the unprinted ends of newsprint that are left over when rolls are changed on the press. Perfect!!

    • Adventure Autoglass on March 22, 2019 at 11:39 am

      So true! Thanks for the awesome suggestion, I had no idea newspapers might sell those end rolls. Usually, we spend a little and buy a pack of newspaper style paper at the store, but your idea is WAY better! Learn something new every day, thanks again!!

      – Ben

  5. Karol on March 22, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Awesome article! I always wondered what the film was and how it got there! Thanks for the education!

    • Adventure Autoglass on March 22, 2019 at 11:44 am

      Of course! Cars have all sorts of fun weird things that most people (myself included!) typically ignore! Thanks again for the love!

      – Ben

  6. Russ Goetz on March 27, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    its fantastic as your other blog posts : D, thankyou for posting.

    • Adventure Autoglass on March 29, 2019 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Russ! 🙂

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