Can You Use Windex On Car Paint? Common Concerns Explained

According to Dr. Beasley, a leading manufacturer of custom car detailing and paint correction products, when it comes to choosing car cleaning products, trust car care experts and not glass experts.

Windex has been there for as long as I can remember. And even though it’s effective at cleaning surfaces, don’t use it on car paint. As a matter of fact, don’t use any glass cleaner on your car paint. I will explain why later on.

If you have some experience with Windex, then you are aware of how thorough it is at cleaning surfaces. Your window could be all dusty and messy but with one quick spray and wipe with Windex, it will look as good as new.

This effectiveness at cleaning surfaces might tempt you to use it to clean up your car. But before you do that, you should be aware of the following facts.

Glass cleaning products are formulated to remove grease, dirt, wax, and other contaminants from the glass. And a good glass cleaner such as Windex will do so ferociously.

However, if the same product is applied to car paint, it can damage it severely. Why is that?

Glass is made of limestone and sand. As a result, it’s quite tough and can handle the harshest products out there. Car paint or automotive finishes in general are very soft.

When cars are manufactured, a clear coat is sprayed on top of it. Its purpose is to protect the paint beneath and give your car a glossy finish.

Because of how soft your car’s finish is, you should avoid, by all means, using Windex on it. Instead, use just water when your car surface is mildly dusty.

Take things a notch higher when it’s messy by using soap or shampoo that has been specifically formulated for car paint and coat.

When you spray Windex on your car, you are stripping away the clear coat. Continued use will also cause it to eat through your car paint forcing you to get a new paint job or drive around with an ugly-looking vehicle.

It also strips away car wax. Car owners who use Windex, wax their car ten times more than those who use car wash soap.

If you were wondering whether you can use Windex on car paint? The answer is no.

Even if your car is extremely dirty, it’s better you make a quick run to an auto shop near you and get some car wash shampoo. Or, use just water and baby shampoo.

can you use windex on car paint
“Windex” by ajay_suresh, Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What Ingredients Make Windex Unsafe for Car Paint?

If you appreciate your investment and would like it to serve you for longer, you should be very cautious about what products you use on it.

Before spraying anything on your car, always read through the ingredients and try to understand their effects.

In this case, the main reason why Windex is unsafe for car paint is the ingredients used to make it. Windex is made from 8 key ingredients, they include;

  • Water
  • Fragrance
  • Sky blue dye
  • 2-hexoxyethanol – It’s a surfactant that loosens up dirt and grime
  • Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate – Another form of surfactant
  • Isopropanolamine – It dissolves oils and soap residue
  • Lauryl Dimethyl Amine Oxide – Also loosens up dirt
  • Ammonia – It acts as a degreaser and strips away wax

All these ingredients used in the preparation of Windex play an important role in ensuring the final product is an effective cleaning agent.

The 8 ingredients are designed to help get dirt and dust from your windows and not car paint.

The likes of Ammonia can be too harsh on your car paint. Even though it dries up quickly when sprayed on a surface, if used at full strength, ammonia will eat through your car’s clear coat and get to the paint.

Should you continue using products like Windex to clean your car, it will always strip off your car wax and leave behind a dull and dry finish. Over time, your car’s paint job will be unsightly.

Are Glass Cleaners (In General) Safe on Car Paint?

Before you can even think about using glass cleaners on car paint, you should consider how resilient glass is compared to car paint.

All glass cleaners including Windex usually promise the same result – clean surfaces that are free from hazing, residues, or streaks.

If used on car paint, glass cleaners will do a commendable job at eliminating all elements easily. There is no dirt or grease that is too strong to resist most glass cleaners. However, these results come at a cost.

Glass cleaners cause fading of the car paint by facilitating oxidation. Frequent use of glass cleaners is likely to lead to cracking and peeling of paint.

What about Ammonia-Free Glass Cleaners?

Even though Windex doesn’t fall under this category, it’s best that we analyze the safety of ammonia-free glass cleaners on car paint.

These types of glass cleaners aren’t as harsh as their counterparts, Windex and the rest. But, they are still not safe for car paint.

Most glass cleaners contain alcohol that can cause discoloration of car paint if they come in contact for a long time.

You can however use ammonia-free glass cleaners on tinted windows and windshields. But, it shouldn’t come in contact with your car paint.

What are the Recommended Uses for Windex in Your Car?

Now that we have ruled out using Windex on car paint, let us look at some of its other uses that might be useful to you as a car owner.

  • Cleaning your car’s interior – Windex is a great cleaning agent for your car’s windshield, steering wheel, dashboard, and upholstery. So, if you have noticed a build-up of gunk inside your car. Grab some Windex spray and get to cleaning. Because of its ability to penetrate through dirt and dust, your car’s interior will be left sparkling clean.

 

  • Removing Stubborn Grease – If you have some stubborn grease on other parts of your car other than the paint, Windex can soften it up and make it easier for you to wash it off. Spray the greased-up part and let it sit for ten minutes before washing it off.

 

  • Get rid of odors – If you want to get rid of nasty odors in your car, Windex can do a great job at leaving behind a fresh scent in your car.

 

  • Make shiny parts sparkle – Has some of your car accessories dulled because of exposure to elements such as rain and snow? Windex can help restore their sparkle. With a toothbrush or microfiber cloth, you can make your car logo look brighter as it did when you first bought it.

 

  • Remove stains on car seats – If you happen to spill some juice or chocolate on your car seats, the stains can be difficult to remove. Windex can cut through these stains and make it easier for you to wash them off. For this application, make sure you use the uncolored version of Windex.

Safe Alternatives to Windex

Windex should never be used on car paint. It is not an alternative to car wash soap and neither is it another option for the recommended car cleaning agents. So, what should you rely on to remove dirt and grease from your car?

Water and car wash soaps are the only products you need if you want to get rid of dirt in your car without damaging the car paint.

In terms of cleaning glass, vinegar and rubbing alcohol make great alternatives. But they aren’t safe on car paint.

Rubbing alcohol when used at full strength will cause discoloration when it comes in contact with car paint for a long time. This is also the same case for vinegar.

Your car paint is safer when it is cleaned with products that have been designed and formulated to be gentle on your car’s clear coat and paint.

There are lots of car wash soaps out there that are strong enough to cut through grime and dirt. So, you don’t have to worry about removing stubborn grease on your car surfaces.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Using Windex on Car Paint?

If you have been using Windex unknowingly and have recently stumbled upon this article, what you need to do is stop using it right away. Secondly, you need to establish when you started using it.

Was it a few weeks or months ago? If it’s the latter, you may have realized some of the effects which include dull paint and fast fading of wax layers.

Regular use of Windex will subject you to waxing your car after almost every two weeks. And you may notice some fading.

Depending on how severe the effects of Windex have been on your car paint, the course of action you should take next may differ.

If you have used it once or twice, then you have got nothing to worry about because there will be no visible impacts.

But, prolonged use may require a new paint job so that you can get rid of the dull paint and reinstall a new clear coat.

Alternatively, you can take your car for professional paint correction services. Moving forward, ensure that you stick to car wash soaps only and forget about products intended for other surfaces.