14 Different Types of Glass Cleaners

Get to know the different types of glass cleaners that differ in their composition to ensure you're using the right type on a particular glass surface for the best results.

A woman cleaning glass window.

Glass cleaning holds a lot more importance than you might initially think. From maintaining the efficiency of the windows to the integrity of the glass, glass cleaning plays a major role. You may think that simple dusting or wiping is enough to have clean windows, but in reality, to make sure the windows are actually clean, the cleaning process tends to be a bit more time-consuming.

The Importance of Glass Cleaning

Most of the people like to have their windows and glass table-tops neat and tidy, but the process of cleaning them is something that does not seem very appealing. However, when you get to know about the numerous reasons why glass cleaning is considered super-important, you may change your approach.

In today’s era, the majority of the population is switching to energy-efficient windows. Getting old windows replaced with energy-efficient windows is a major investment. Did you know that if you don’t clean your windows from all the dust and dirt that settles on the glass, the efficiency of these windows gets reduced? If you have energy-efficient windows installed, you need to be extra vigilant about cleaning these windows.

Not many people are aware of the fact that glass is a porous material. If it is not cleaned properly, particles of dust and dirt and microorganisms can accumulate in these pores. With this, the glass becomes cloudy, weak, and can shatter a lot more easily. If you want your windows and any other piece of furniture that has glass incorporated in it to last for a long time, you need to make sure that you clean the glass regularly.

Smoke from cooking, smoking, and burning the fireplace gets deposited on the glass that not only gives the glass a dirty appearance but also leaves your house smelling unpleasant.

Above all, clean glass (in windows and furniture) adds to the visual appeal of your house. Unclean glass is a turn-off, no matter how clean the rest of your home is.

Apart from glass windows and furniture at home, your car also needs attention. The windscreen, the windows, and the rear screen need as much cleaning as the windows in your home.

All these reasons make cleaning glass as important as cleaning the rest of your house. The question here is – how does one go about cleaning glass? You must be thinking that you can use any cleaning products to clean your glass but to ensure that your glass is completely clean, you should use glass cleaners!

What Is a Glass Cleaner?
A girl cleaning window with glass cleaner

glass cleaner is a specialty cleaner that is intended to be used on glass surfaces. It can cut through tough stains like grease, dirt, grime, and smudges on different glass surfaces.

Types of Glass Cleaners

Now that you know how important glass cleaning is, let’s move onto the types of glass cleaners that are available today. Since, each type of glass has a different composition, the type of glass cleaner used should be suitable for the glass that is to be cleaned.

Primarily, there are a few basic types of glass cleaners, based on their composition. These are:

  • Ammonia-Based Glass Cleaners
  • Non-Ammonia Based Glass Cleaners
  • IPA-Based Glass Cleaners
  • Cleaning Agents Based Liquids
  • Foam Glass Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaning Paste
  • Glass Cleaning Wipes
  • Traffic Film Removers

1. Ammonia-Based Glass Cleaners

Most of the glass cleaners available today, like Windex, contain ammonia. It is a powerful cleaning agent that can break down stains that are caused by grime, grease, or animal fats. Also, it evaporates rapidly, which makes sure that no streaks appear after the glass surface is cleaned.

Ammonia-based cleaners work great for cleaning sinks, tubs, tiles, toilets, kitchen countertops, and glass surfaces. Ammonia-based glass cleaners are low-cost and give incredible results.

However, you might not like the odor that ammonia-based glass cleaners leave behind. It is quite a strong scent that not many people are fond of. Moreover, if you are using an ammonia-based glass cleaner, you should make sure that you do not use it to clean glass surfaces which receive direct sunlight. This is because the sunlight will make the glass cleaning solution dry out too quickly, which will leave behind cleaning streaks.

2. Non-Ammonia Based Glass Cleaners

Non-ammonia based glass cleaners or ammonia-free glass cleaners are also available in the market. You may wonder why anyone would opt for a non-ammonia based glass cleaner considering the incredible cleaning properties of ammonia. Well, we have a pretty good explanation.

Ammonia is not suitable for glass surfaces that have tints or any other kind of coating. Ammonia can cause the coating to peel or scratch, killing the purpose of the coat. In addition, if you are using an ammonia-based glass cleaner for car windows and the windshield, the fumes can accumulate in the closed space of the car, which is extremely harmful to the health of the passengers and the driver.

Ammonia-based glass cleaners can also result in the streaking of the glass as well, owing to the rapid evaporation of ammonia. Streaks on the glass surfaces can have a negative impact on the appeal and visibility of the glass.

If you wish for a streak-free and a risk-free glass cleaner, a non-ammonia based glass cleaner is your go-to option.

3. IPA-Based Glass Cleaners

IPA-based glass cleaners are one of the most common types of window cleaners used today. They are based on the ingredient, isopropyl alcohol. These types of glass cleaners can clean a variety of stains and substrates.

The numerous benefits of IPA-based glass cleaners make them incredibly common and one of the most efficient types of glass cleaners. A major benefit of these cleaning products is that their use is not limited to just glass. They are also used as multi-surface cleaners that can be safely used on plastics. They dry out fast and leave behind no residue. IPA-based cleaners reduce the wear on a surface, and since this type is water-soluble, it can be diluted in water.

IPA-based glass cleaners are also said to significantly extend the life of the surface they are being used on. They can remove the interfering soil particles from optical heads, and remove dampening residues quickly from magnetic heads.

The only precautions associated with IPA-based glass cleaners are:

  • Because they dry out rapidly, cleaning should be done quickly before the cleaner dries.
  • They shouldn’t be stored or used near a flame as IPA is highly flammable.

4. Cleaning Agents Based Liquids

A man using a glass cleaner to clean car windows.

Cleaning agent-based glass cleaners are similar to soap in composition. These glass cleaners are water-based. They contain emulsifiers, surfactants, and a carrier. What makes them different is the final formulation that is made to work specifically on glass surfaces.

They are cheaper in cost as compared to IPA-based glass cleaners. Unlike IPA-based glass cleaners, cleaning agent-based liquids do not dry rapidly, which allows you to clean any glass surface slowly and even leave the liquid on the surface for some time. However, cleaning agent-based glass cleaners leave behind residue. To make sure that the cleaning is thorough, you have to wipe the glass surface quite well.

5. Foam Glass Cleaner

foam glass cleaner consists of a pressurized cleaning liquid enclosed in an aerosol can or aerosol spray. This type of glass cleaner has a number of benefits over the more common types of glass cleaners.

When the foam is sprayed over a glass surface, foam, having a great adhesive force, sticks to the surface to be cleaned, which ensures a more sparkling and thorough glass cleaning. Moreover, since the foam has a creeping characteristic, the use of a foam glass cleaner allows you to clean corners of surfaces where you might not be able to reach otherwise.

Foam glass cleaners can be wiped using a microfiber cloth (MF). Microfiber has a greater drying capacity as compared to usual fabrics.

A foam glass cleaner is an excellent option for windows, windshields, mirrors, and other glass surfaces. Foaming removes dirt and grease effectively and delivers a streak-free shine. Foam glass cleaners like Sprayway are gaining popularity in the market today due to their ease of use and the sparkling results that these products give.

6. Paste Glass Cleaners

Paste glass cleaners, as the name indicates, are glass cleaners that come in the form of a paste. They consist of a solvent and a carrier. A solvent dissolves the oil and dirt while the carrier allows for easy application. The paste is simply rubbed onto a glass surface using a non-scratch pad or a cloth and is then wipe off with a damp cloth. Buff drying with a fresh, dry piece of cloth ensures complete cleaning of the glass surface.

Paste glass cleaners are not as common yet. People who have used a paste glass cleaner do report some drawbacks too. According to them, buff cleaning produces dust that needs further cleaning. Moreover, the paste dries pretty soon when the temperatures are high, which makes these types of glass cleaners inappropriate to be used in summers.

7. Glass Cleaning Wipes

Glass cleaning wipes are available in the form of several wipes in a single packet or one wipe in a packet. These wipes are soaked in a cleaning agent. These are the most convenient types of glass cleaners. All you have to do is unpack the wipe and rub it on the glass surface you wish to clean. The cleaning agent evaporates, leaving behind visibly clean glass surfaces.

8. Traffic Film Removers

Traffic film removers are special glass cleaning liquids that are made for the purpose of cleaning traffic film. Traffic film is a thin layer of grease, grime, oil, and dirt that forms over hard surfaces like on the body of the car or the windshield.

Traffic film removers consist of phosphates, silicates, surfactants, and chelating agents that work together for the removal of dirt that has accumulated on a glass surface.

Traffic film removers are cleaning liquids that are filled in a spray bottle and sprayed over the surface that is to be cleaned.

Traffic film removers are of two types, depending upon the composition.

  • Caustic Traffic Film Removers
  • Non-Caustic Traffic Film Removers

Caustic Traffic Film Removers

A caustic traffic film remover consists of sodium hydroxide or caustic soda. The alkaline nature of these solutions makes these types of cleaners incredibly powerful. It deep cleans the surfaces and removes dirt, grease, and grime. Since it is highly alkaline, it is not suitable for all surfaces. It is usually used for industrial purposes like degreasing machine parts and engines.

Non-Caustic Traffic Film Removers

Non-caustic film removers are traffic film removers in which less aggressive sodium metasilicate is used instead of sodium hydroxide. As a result, non-caustic traffic film removers are more suitable to be used on glass surfaces.

Traffic films form on glass surfaces with time, especially in your car. You certainly don’t want to use a glass cleaner that may affect the visibility of the windshield. For such cases, traffic film removers are the ideal types of glass cleaners.

The best glass cleaner is the one that cleans all the dirt, dust, and grime from the glass without affecting the integrity of the glass, is non-toxic for humans, and delivers a streak-free finish. Moreover, one of the most important features of the best glass cleaner is that it will not have an impact on the transparency of the glass.

A professional cleaning windows

Homemade Glass Cleaners

You can make glass cleaners yourself at home. Numerous effective glass cleaner recipes that have been tried and tested by the masses are available for you to use. We have listed down some of the most popular ones for you to try!

Making glass cleaners at home saves a lot of money. All the recipes listed below are made from ingredients that are easily available in a household. The next time you see a stain on a glass surface, simply mix the ingredients of any of the recipes and get sparkling clean glass surfaces!

1. Alcohol and White Vinegar Glass Cleaner

If you wish to avoid chemical-laden glass cleaners at all cost, you can try the basic natural glass cleaner that is made by mixing alcohol and white vinegar. These are inexpensive ingredients which are usually available in every household. These ingredients are often a part of commercially available glass cleaners, too. They evaporate rapidly, which means you get a streak-free shine on your glass.

Simply mix equal portions of rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and water. Mix well and pour the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture on your glass surfaces and then wipe it off.

2. Cornstarch Glass Cleaner

Another effective glass cleaner recipe includes cornstarch, white vinegar, alcohol, and water. Cornstarch breaks the bonds of water and gives a spot-free, streak-free, shiny surface. If you want to get rid of a water spot on any glass surface, this glass cleaner recipe will work great for you! This formula is excellent for filthy glass surfaces, windows, and window screens.

Make sure that you shake the spray bottle well before spraying the mixture to ensure that all the cornstarch dissolves in the mixture.

3. Essential Oil Glass Cleaner

White vinegar is often an essential part of any homemade glass cleaner. Mixing white vinegar with essential oils of your choice and water makes for a super-effective and inexpensive glass cleaner, which works great for glass grime and dirt. You can simply spray this homemade solution on any glass surface or a window that you wish to clean and then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth.

4. Vinegar, Cornstarch, and Essential Oil Glass Cleaner

This glass cleaner recipe includes all the ingredients from the previously listed recipes, including vinegar, cornstarch, essential oil, water, and alcohol to make a highly effective glass cleaner. It can be used on windows and any glass surface. Wiping the solution off using a newspaper will give you incredible results!

5. Baking Soda and Liquid Dish Soap

If you are looking for a specific recipe for a glass cleaner that will effectively clean a glass stovetop, then this is the one for you. Simply mix baking soda and liquid dish soap and rub it with a mildly aggressive sponge. Once you are done, rinse off the stovetop with a microfiber cloth. You will get a stovetop that looks as clean as new.

Glass cleaning is extremely important if you wish to maintain the aesthetic appeal of your property and prolong the lifespan of your glass surfaces and windows. Using the right glass cleaner is essential to make sure that the surfaces are not damaged irreversibly. With so many types of glass cleaners available today, you have various options to choose from. A house where the windows and all glass surfaces are shining clean is sure to win the hearts of any visitor!