Skip to Content

Can You Use Glass Cleaner as Windshield Wiper Fluid?

Can You Use Glass Cleaner as Windshield Wiper Fluid?

If you regularly have to clean your windshield, chances are you might be looking for different variations in cleaning fluids. 

Or you might have a shortage of windshield wiper fluid and are looking for possible substitutes. 

Well, you can always use glass cleaner. Or can you?

While glass cleaner can be used to clean your windshield, it shouldn’t be regularly used as a substitute for windshield wiper fluid. This is mainly because windshield wiper fluid contains several useful chemicals that are not found in everyday glass cleaners.

Although glass cleaners are great when you use them indoors, their effect on your automobile might cause more harm than good.

This article covers the reasons behind that, as well as recipes for homemade windshield wiper fluids that are safe for your car. So, keep on reading!

Why shouldn’t glass cleaners be used as wiper fluid?

One of the main reasons not to use glass cleaners as a substitute for windshield wiper fluid is that glass cleaners usually contain ammonia.

This should neither be applied to the car’s exterior nor the interior.

If you use ammonia-based cleaners in the car’s interior, it will harm the leather, and cause it to degrade and crack.

Using it as a windshield wiper fluid will probably leave streaks on the windshield and damage your window tint if you have had one installed. 

The washer fluid reservoir will also be affected by ammonia, and your spray nozzles will also be damaged over time.

Using ammonia-based cleaners on the car’s paint can also be harmful since the ammonia will start clearing away any wax coating you may have done on the car. 

The paint might also be affected if the ammonia has been used in a higher concentration.

Normal glass cleaners and weather

Unlike washer fluids designed for cars, normal glass cleaning fluids are vulnerable to colder temperatures and will freeze at low temperatures. 

This can cause your washer fluid reservoir to crack, and damage the fluid pump lines as well.

On the other hand, car washer fluids have different types of alcohol mixed into them, which helps them prevent freezing in lower temperatures.

Homemade alternatives to glass cleaners

Instead of pouring Windex or some other glass cleaner, you can use one of these homemade glass cleaning recipes to create a washer fluid that is car-safe as well!

1. Vinegar wiper fluid

Although you will have to bear with the vinegar’s strong smell, vinegar is a great cleaner that works well in warmer temperatures. 

Simply add one part distilled white vinegar to three parts water, and you will have a handy cleaning solution!

If you want this solution to be winter safe as well, simply add some methanol or alcohol to the concoction, and it will become an antifreeze washer fluid!

2. Castile soap with rubbing alcohol

Mix eight ounces of rubbing alcohol with a gallon of distilled water. 

After this, add some castile soap. The end result is a great homemade washer fluid that is winterproof as well!

How to properly clean your windshield

If you’re confused on how to deal with a dirty windshield exactly, fret not. Begin by first cleaning the windshield manually. 

You can utilize a microfiber cloth or a paper towel. 

Use one of the homemade recipes I mentioned above, or get a car cleaning liquid from the store.

Once the windshield is completely clean, proceed to clean the washer fluid reservoir if it’s dirty.

If you’ve filled it with ammonia-based glass cleaning liquid, you need to drain it completely and wash it with water. 

Scrub the inside of the tank with a toothbrush in order to rid it of any traces of ammonia completely.

Once this is done, fill it with a store-bought car washer fluid, or one of the recipes I mentioned above, and test the spray nozzles and wiper. 

Once you’re sure that the wipers and nozzles work well, you’re good to go!

Final Thoughts on Glass Cleaner as Windshield Wiper Fluid

To answer your question, any glass cleaner with ammonia shouldn’t be used as a substitute for washer fluid designed for cars. 

Household glass cleaners are generally more expensive than car cleaners as well, so you’d be wasting money and harming your car at the same time.

Make sure to properly clean your windshield manually before using the wipers and wiper fluid, otherwise, you might face issues with your wiper skipping, or not cleaning properly.

I hope this article was helpful, and you make a well-informed decision regarding the appropriate cleaner for your windshield!

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!