How to Clean Windshield Wipers

Whether there’s rain, snow, or simply some dirt and debris on your windshield, you know how important it is for your wiper blades to function properly and ensure a clear view of the road. Learning how to clean windshield wipers and actually doing it takes a few minutes, but it can improve your safety while driving dramatically. So, here’s everything you need to know in order to clean your wiper blades and ensure the best results.

Wiper Blades Are Often Overlooked, but They Are a Safety Item You Should Regularly Maintain

Keeping your windshield wipers clean and functioning is an often overlooked task, but it shouldn’t be. These wipers are one of the essential parts of staying safe on the road and navigating through heavy rain and snowfall. Obviously, you need a crystal-clear view of what’s ahead and behind you. 

Visibility is the key to staying safe, whether during the day or while driving at night and sometimes, a quick clean is all you need in order to protect yourself and others on the road. So, if your wiper blades are not clearing away precipitation as effectively as they should, or leaving marks on your windshield, here’s how to get that crystal-clear view again

A young woman driving a car
Navigating through busy streets is safer when you have a clear view of the road

Choose Your Cleaner Before You Get To Work

First things first, before you even get to cleaning your wiper blades, you should decide what you want to clean them with. Your choice should be made according to how dirty the wiper blades have gotten – if you maintain them regularly, you should be good with only water, but if they haven’t been cleaned for a while, you should go for something stronger. 

There’s no need to go and buy a specific cleaner for your windshield wipers, and most of the recommended cleaning agents can be found in your household. So, to help you decide on the best cleaner for you, here’s a list along with the main properties of each of them:

CleanerHow to UseProperties
Tap WaterSoak the cloth in waterGood for a simple clean
Dishwashing Soap2-3 squirts on the cloth, soak in waterMore effective than regular water, needs to be rinsed
Glass Cleaner1-2 squirts on the clothGreat for getting rid of oil and grease
White Vinegar50/50 mix with regular waterPrevents streaks and softens the rubber on the wiper blades
Denatured Alcohol50/50 mix with regular waterExcellent cleaning properties

That’s Right, White Vinegar Diluted in Water Can Work Just Fine

If you’re looking for a natural cleaning agent, it doesn’t get better than the regular white vinegar you can find in your household. Whether you’re cleaning something on the inside of your car, such as the seat belt or even the steering wheel, or you need to clean the wiper blades, vinegar can be a great option. 

The white vinegar and water 50/50 mixture can not only clean the wiper blade rubber, but it softens it too. So, it’s a good option when your wiper blades have sat for a while and got hardened – just keep in mind you need to remove the vinegar mixture by wiping the blades down with a cloth before you get on the road. 

Here’s Everything You Need to Gather Before You Get to Cleaning

So, once you’ve decided what kind of cleaning agent you want to use to clean your wiper blades, there’s only one thing left to do – gather everything you need for the job. Here’s a list to help you:

  • Microfiber cloth, regular rag, or a sponge,
  • Paper towels,
  • Rubber gloves,
  • Bucket or a spray bottle of your chosen cleaner fluid.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Windshield Wipers

As I’ve mentioned, regular cleaning of your wiper blades is important. By doing so, you will increase their lifespan and not have to replace them that often, and you will also ensure safety by having a clear vision of the road. Ideally, you should clean your wipers every three to six weeks, depending on the weather conditions. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Step 1: Lift the Wiper Blades off the Windshield

There are two positions you can put your wiper blades in before you get to cleaning. The first option is to leave them as they are and lift them off the windscreen until they’re sticking out. They should stay up on their own, but even if they don’t, you can hold them in place while wiping them down. 

The second option is to turn on the ignition, switch your wipers on low, and turn the ignition off once the wiper blades are pointing straight up. You should do this because some wipers can be locked unless they are pointing up. So, once you get them into that position, pull them from the windshield, and this will unlock them and make them easier to clean. 

Before you get to cleaning, lift the blades off the windshield

Step 2: Clean Your Windshield Thoroughly

It might go without saying, but I should still mention it – before you get to cleaning your wiper blades, it’s important to thoroughly clean the rest of your car, especially the windshield. If it stays dirty, there’s no point in getting your wiper blades clean because they won’t stay like that for long. So, remove any debris from the base of the windshield, get a microfiber cloth and the cleaning agent you chose, and get to wiping. 

Step 3: Get to Cleaning the Wiper Blades

So, let’s get down to it. As I’ve mentioned before, the choice of your cleaner depends on how regularly you maintain the wiper blades and how dirty they’ve gotten since the last time you cleaned them. So, if the wiper blades are relatively clean, ½ cup of water will do the job just fine, but otherwise, you should use a cleaning agent and dilute it into a bucket or a spray bottle. 

Here’s how to get your windshield wipers into a spotless state:

  • Take an old rag and run it up and down the blades in order to remove any large particles of dirt and debris. This is important for preparing the wiper blades before you apply the cleaning solution. 
  • Apply the cleaner to your cloth, and with your non-dominant hand, hold the wiper so you can keep it from moving. With your other hand, wrap the cloth around the rubber or silicone part of the wiper blade on its underside. Slide the cloth up and down the entire length to pull the dirt and dust off the wiper blade. 
  • Keep in mind that it doesn’t take that much pressure, and you should do it relatively gently so you don’t damage the rubber or pull it off completely. Also, be careful not to apply the cleaner, especially if it’s diluted vinegar, to other parts of the car because there could be damage. 
  • Continue to rub up and down, and if the cloth gets too dirty, simply flip the cloth over to a clean section and continue wiping. If you have an off-road driving vehicle, and the wiper blades are really dirty, chances are you’ll have to do it a few times and apply the cleaner again. Once the cloth is coming away completely clean, it’s done!
Most of the cleaning supplies you can use for wiper blades are already in your household

Step 4: Clean the Rest of Your Wiper Blades

Sometimes the streaks on your windshield are not from the blades but from a mechanism that keeps the blade stuck on the windscreen. If there’s any dirt or debris, your wiper blades might start sticking and stuttering while they’re on. That’s why it’s important to clean the wiper arms, the hinge area (where the wiper blade connects to the bracket), and the rest of the mechanism as well. So, get rid of any debris, dirt, or anything else that may be causing your wipers to not perform correctly. 

Step 5: Remove Any Soapy Residue and Finish Up

Before using the wipers, it’s essential to remove any residue that might be left after the cleaning. So, give them a final swipe of clean water or surgical spirit, and make sure that no residue is left to dry out on the brackets. If you moved the wipers with the ignition on, you should turn the ignition back on and return the wiper blades to their neutral position. 

person in a car
Once your windshield wipers are clean, it’s time to hit the road

It’s Important to Keep Your Windshield and Wiper Blades in a Good Condition

Keeping your vehicle in overall good condition should be one of the top priorities for any car owner. It’s a matter of not only cleanliness and comfort but safety as well. So, here’s what you should do to maintain your vehicle and wiper blades in good condition:

Remove Debris From the Base of Your Windshield

Whenever you see debris, twigs, and dead leaves stuck in the base of your windshield, you should take it out. If you don’t do it regularly, it might dirty up the windshield and the front of your car, and buildup can cause problems in the mechanism of your wiper blades.

Remove Snow Using a Handheld Brush

If there’s snow on your windshield, it can leave a nasty layer of dried residue once it’s melted. So, it’s important to always clean your vehicle from snow before you get into it. It might be convenient to use your wiper blades to push the thick layer of snow, but that’s not good for them. Use a handheld brush instead, and if there’s any ice, use the flat blade on the scraper as well. If you’re having trouble, just turn your car on and let it defrost for 15 minutes.

Your Windscreen Should Be Cleaned at Least Once a Month

You can use a car wash or take care of this simple task by yourself. Grab a bottle of glass cleaner fluid and spray it down on every portion of your windshield. Wipe the glass dry with soft circular motions while using a paper towel. Then, run your wiper blades with the built-in cleaner fluid to take care of any residue.

Add a Protective Layer to the Glass of Your Windscreen

To keep your wipers and windscreen clean, you should use a water-repellent fluid designed specifically for windscreens. Simply spray the repellent and work it into the glass using a paper towel or microfiber cloth. Let it dry out for a couple of hours before you get it wet, and reapply whenever you notice it starts to wear off. This usually happens after a few months.

Keeping the Vehicle Out of Direct Sun Can Increase the Lifespan of Your Wiper Blades

The rubber or silicon part of the blade will dry out in the sun, and it can start to crack, which causes stuttering while they’re working. So, it’s a good idea to keep your vehicle in the garage and away from the sun whenever you can, as this will increase the lifespan of your windshield wipers.

With Regular Maintenance, There Won’t Be a Need to Replace Any Parts Early

No matter if you’ve got a used vehicle, a brand-new one, or a car with a salvage title, it’s important to keep regular maintenance, both in cleaning and taking it to the mechanic. When you regularly clean your vehicle, especially the windshield, you will not only keep your wiper blades clean longer, but you will also not have to think about replacing them for at least a few years. So, it’s time to get down to it!