How to Care for Tinted Windows

Tinted windows make any make or model of vehicle look sleek and confident. If you've recently tinted your car windows, pat yourself on the back — you did your car and your health a favor. Tinting your car windows has many benefits such as:

  • Protecting the interior: Window tint helps protect car upholstery from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, keeping your car looking like new.
  • Providing privacy: If your car has tinted windows, you know the pleasure of cruising in privacy. Tinted windows let you see the world as you ride without the world looking back.
  • Keeping it cool: Window tint also reduces the heat in the car to up to 70 percent, making your ride cooler on a hot day.
  • Protecting valuables: Thieves are less likely to notice valuables when they are out of sight and blocked by tinted windows.
  • Protecting you from UV rays: Millions of people get too much sun exposure from riding in their cars. UV radiation is associated with about 90 percent of all skin cancers. Fortunately, window tinting blocks up to 99 percent of UV rays, protecting the driver from too much sun.
  • Helping to keep windows intact: Did you know window tint also helps reduce shattered glass in an accident? The tint adhesive helps keep small pieces of broken glass together.
  • Reducing glare: Window tint reduces glare created by the sun or bright headlights. You'll spend less time squinting and more time enjoying a safer ride.

Some drivers tint their windows just to enhance the style of their vehicle, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you installed window tint, you probably have questions about window tint care. Luckily, window tint maintenance is simple, and you can get a lot out of your tint for a long time with minimal effort.

Keep reading below for window tint care instructions and ways to increase tint lifespan. Longlasting window tint mostly relies on a quality film and how you handle your ride.

When to Roll Down Windows After Installing Tint

After tinting your windows, do not roll them down for at least three days. You need to give the tint time to dry and completely adhere to the glass. If you roll your windows down too soon, the tint could peel.

If you notice air pockets after installing new tint, try not to worry. It's normal for windows to appear cloudy or contain tiny air bubbles during the drying period. As the film dries and adheres to the glass, the trapped water will evaporate for a smooth finish.

Depending on the type of tint you used and the weather conditions, it could take up to two weeks or longer for the tint to completely dry. For example, if it is hot and sunny outside, your tint will dry quicker than if it is cold and wet.

Window Tint Cleaning

You can clean tinted windows only after they have dried completely. If you clean them too soon, you run the risk of pulling the tint from the window. Typically it takes a couple of days for the tint to dry before you can clean the windows. To play it safe, we recommend waiting 30 days before cleaning freshly tinted windows.

Keep your windows in great shape by cleaning them the moment they get dirty. A dirty car window makes it hard to see at night or through glares. Also, dust and dirt can build and shorten the lifespan of window film.

Cleaning a tinted window is very easy and is not much different than wiping down any glass surface. The key is to avoid chemicals containing ammonia and abrasive materials. With very little effort, you will have your tinted windows shining and streak-free. Read below for tips on how to properly clean your tinted windows.

1. Clean Your Windows With Water

Harsh chemicals or rough cleaning supplies damage window tint, which is a thin plastic film. There is no need to use scratchy sponges to make your windows sparkle. Simple water and a clean, soft cloth often do the trick.

To clean your windows with water, grab a spray bottle and a microfiber cloth. Some detailing experts recommend a waffle-weave microfiber towel for streak-free cleaning. All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with water and then lightly mist the windows. You can spray the cloth with water instead to avoid a wet driver's seat. Next, wipe vertically over the entire window surface and then wipe horizontally until all the streaks are gone.

If there are still streaks or dirt left behind, repeat the process using the clean side of the cloth until the window is spotless. Once the window is clean, roll it down and carefully wipe the top edge of the glass to remove any dirt that got pushed up to the top.

2. Clean Your Windows With Glass Cleaner

Make sure to a use an ammonia-free glass cleaner if you decide to use glass cleaner to care for your tinted windows. Most blue glass cleaners contain ammonia, so read the label to make sure. Ammonia eats away at window tint layers and can even be used to remove the tint. We recommend choosing an ammonia-free glass cleaner designed especially for automotive purposes.

Once you have a non-ammonia glass cleaner, grab some clean paper towels and a microfiber cloth. Spray the window with the glass cleaner or onto the cloth if you want to prevent getting glass cleaner in the car. Then wipe the glass cleaner all over the window, followed by wiping horizontally and then vertically to remove streaks. Glass cleaner dries fast, so you want to work quickly. If you still have streaks after using the glass cleaner, use a different clean cloth and repeat.

3. Clean Very Dirty Windows

Extremely dirty windows can be a safety hazard when you're driving down the road. Although window tint is on the inside of the window, which protects it from environmental factors like rain, bird droppings and dust, it can still get dirty, especially if passengers smoke inside. Other times, dust, condensation and smoke combine to create a dirty film on interior windows. Keeping the car cool helps get rid of film buildup, but interiors windows still call for occasional cleaning.

If your windows are very dirty and do not come clean after a few wipes, follow the steps below, and your windows will be shining in no time. To get started, you'll need a clean bucket of warm water, dishwashing soap, a sponge and a microfiber cloth. For extra dirt-removing power, choose a dishwasher soap that was made to cut grease. Once you have all your materials together, take these steps:

  1. Fill your bucket with about a gallon of warm water and a teaspoon of soap.
  2. Let your sponge soak in the bucket.
  3. Wring the sponge until it is no longer dripping.
  4. Wipe down the windows with the sponge from edge to edge.
  5. Rinse and wring out the sponge regularly as it collects dirt.
  6. Next, wipe down the windows with a clean microfiber cloth.
  7. Let the window dry.

After you removed dirt using a soapy sponge and microfiber cloth, there will probably be some streaking. This is when your glass cleaner comes in handy. After the windows dried, clean the windows either with water or ammonia-free glass cleaner.

4. Dos and Don'ts

The most common mistake people make with their tinted windows is grabbing the first cleaner they find to remove dirt. The wrong cleaning chemical will cause window tint to degrade faster than it should. Keep these dos and don'ts in mind when cleaning your tinted windows to prevent damage and increase shine:

  • Don't use ammonia on tinted windows.
  • Don't clean windows immediately after installing window tint.
  • Don't use anything abrasive to clean tinted windows such as harsh chemicals, razor blades, steel sponges or scrapers.
  • Don't scrub tinted windows too hard.
  • Don't park under a sap-producing tree as this can damage windows on the outside affecting overall visibility.
  • Do be gentle when cleaning tinted windows.
  • Do wait until your windows are completely dry before cleaning them.
  • Do use a car window glass cleaner.
  • Do use soft cloths to clean tinted windows to prevent scratches.
  • Do clean the outside of your windows for the best results.
  • Do clean windows regularly to prevent too much dirt buildup.
  • Do clean windows in the shade to prevent uneven drying and permanent streaking.
  • Do carefully clean the edges of tinted windows as this is the most vulnerable area for tint damage.
  • Do clean the windows last when washing your car.
  • Do clean in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler, and tint is less susceptible to peeling or tearing.

Window Tint Maintenance

Regularly check your windows for bubbling, scratches or peeling to ensure they serve their purpose. If the film is peeling or bubbling, it needs to be removed or replaced. Generally, if you properly installed a quality tint, you should not run into too many problems, and maintenance requires little time and effort.

1. How to Increase Longevity

Average window films last 10 to 15 years, while some brands last a lifetime. A low-quality tint could fade or peel in a year or less. The best way to make your tint last longer is to choose a quality tint. A high-quality carbon or ceramic tint will resist fading better than lower quality tints and protect you and your car interior from harmful UV rays.

Secondly, make sure to properly install the tint. If the tint is not installed correctly, the chances are greater that problems will arise in the future. Always make sure to research the laws where you live to know how dark you can go when choosing the right tint.

Also, avoid parking your car in direct sunlight. Typically, window tints last longer in northern climates while hotter southern climates cause fading and bubbling faster. Try to keep the car's interior as cool as possible when parking it outside on a hot sunny day.

Other factors such as maintenance and handling are up to you and also determine how long the tint will last. For example, if your window is broken and does not roll up all the way, rain will get inside your car and possibly damage the film. Or, if you have a pet who likes to ride along with you but also scratches at the window, obviously the tint will not last as long. Cleaning the tint occasionally will also expand its lifespan and keep it looking fresh.

2. What to Avoid

For the most part, tinted window care is simple and does not require much attention. However, here are some things to look out for and keep in mind to protect window film from damage:

  • Do not apply stickers or suction cups to tinted windows as that can remove the film.
  • Make sure seatbelts do not hit windows.
  • Avoid too much sun exposure as this can cause tint to fade over time.
  • Try to keep the car cool to prevent heat bubbles from forming in the film.
  • Avoid low-quality film.
  • Avoid riding with pets who might jump up and scratch windows.

3. Repairing a Scratch

No matter how hard you try to protect your windows, sometimes scratches happen. In such a case, there is no need to panic. As a DIYer, you can repair the scratch on your own with a little patience. Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Marking tool
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Razor blade
  • Distilled water
  • New tint
  • Sponge
  • Metal straightedge

Once you've gathered your materials, take the following steps:

  1. Mark a square around the damaged area.
  2. Use the blade to cut around the marked area.
  3. Use the corner of the blade to lift up a bit of the sliced film.
  4. Avoid tearing or loosening the surrounding film.
  5. Spray a fine mist on the edges of the cut area and blot excess water.
  6. Slide the corner of your razor under the piece of film to be removed.
  7. Run the entire blade under the film until it can be carefully removed.
  8. Clean the inside of the cut-out area with a spray of water and a clean rag.
  9. Make sure there are no glue or film pieces left behind.
  10. Cut a new square of tint which is one inch longer than the old tint on each side.
  11. Wet the glass again with a light mist.
  12. With the backing removed, apply the new square to the wet glass.
  13. Use a damp sponge to press the square in place and remove bubbles.
  14. Place the straightedge where the new film overlaps the old film.
  15. Follow the edge and trim with the razor blade cutting through old and new layers.
  16. Remove the pieces of old film that had been cut away.
  17. Press the new film into place.
  18. Use the sponge to wipe away any remaining moisture.

Buy Quality Window Film at Rvinyl

Quality is something you do not want to skimp on when it comes to window tint. A quality film lasts longer, provides better UV protection and is easier to install. It also saves you the time and money required to replace damaged lower-quality tint. For a cohesive look, make sure to use the same product for all the windows. Also choose a film that comes with a warranty. All of the tint products we carry at Rvinyl come with a three-year warranty against cracking, peeling and fading.

Rvinyl makes quality window tint installation easy. We are proud to offer Rtint, our line of pre-cut tint kits customized for the exact year, make and model of hundreds of cars. You get to choose the type of tint you want and the percentage of visual light transmission (VLT) you need.

We also offer windshield visors for seamless UV protection, and uncut sheets and rolls to put full control of customization in your hands. We offer application tools to help you do a perfect job and tons of other products from vinyl wraps to dash kits — ideal for DIYers looking to upgrade their ride with custom accessories. Check out our other blog posts to learn more about DIY techniques or browse our products and get the style you want today.