A Driving Instructor's Blog

Cleaning The Windscreen – Inside

Have you noticed a whitish film on the inside of your windscreen – visible especially when the sun shines on it at certain angles? No matter what you do, it won’t come off? It is apparently due to a build up of hydrocarbons from the aircon and plastic components in the car (this is what I’ve been told). Personally, I think that cigarette smoke, vaping residues, kids, and pets have a lot to do with it as well, not to mention when people use the back of their hand or a dirty rag to wipe morning condensation off. Certainly, it will build up again over several months if you get it off. But how do you remove it in the first place?

I think I have found the ultimate solution in Traffic Film Remover (TFR) – see tips below. After using TFR, clean again using Autoglym Fast Glass.

Autoglym Fast Glass is also ideal for removing greasy fingerprints and general smears on all the inside windows. It’s the only product I’ve found which genuinely doesn’t leave streaks or residues when it dries. You can get it from Halfords .


Cleaning The Windscreen – Outside

If you take your car to a drive-thru carwash your windscreen gets coated with wax which smears when the wipers operate. Also, over time you get greasy patches on the outside which only become apparent when it rains. And don’t get me started on bugs and their superglue blood

You can buy various cleaners, but nothing beat TFR (see the tips below) used at 1% to 2% in water.

Something called “sugar soap”, which is used in the building and decorating trades for degreasing surfaces prior to painting, will help remove the film you get on brand new cars. TFR also removes it used at a higher concentration (up to 5% in water). You can buy sugar soap from most DIY stores and it is very cheap (around £2 for 430g). I think it has a similar composition to Clearalex. It will get even the most stubborn crud off your windscreen.


Homemade Wash Bottle Detergent

Commercial products contain a powerful surfactant and an antifreeze agent. I’ve written more about making your own screenwash in a separate article. The recipe is given below.

To make 5 litres of screenwash concentrate (like what you’d buy) you need the following:

  • 750mls ethanol
  • 70-80g of TFR (see below)
  • water to make 5L

Used neat, this will protect you down to -6°C. If you need protection down to -9°C, increase the ethanol to 1L in the above recipe. Don’t use more than about 1.25L of ethanol (about -12°C), otherwise the mixture becomes too flammable to be carried around safely. If you really do need protection to a lower temperature, only use the ethanol when you need it and don’t keep lots of ready made.

For the water, I use either boiled rainwater or the condensate from a dehumidifier, since they have no dissolved minerals (i.e. they are “soft”).

Use this concentrate at 10% diluted with water in summer, and 25% with water in winter unless it gets colder than about -2°C for any length of time. Then you can increase the concentration all the way up to using it neat if necessary.

Ethanol can be purchased online on Ebay as “bio-ethanol”, and costs about £2 per litre from various retailers. I buy TFR from Jennychem, and it costs about £12 for 5L, but it lasts a while.


Homemade Bug Remover

To make 750mls of a powerful bug remover and general degreaser you need:

  • 12g of TFR (see previous tip)
  • water to make 750mls

Use it in a spray bottle.


Tar Or Paint on Bodywork/Alloys

Last year I noticed that I had got a lot of black paint splashes on my alloys on one side of the car. It was also on the side panels and doors. If someone hadn’t thrown paint at the car (and there was too little for me to suspect this), then I must have run over something with paint in it and it had burst, splashing the car.

Astonish Tar & Insect Remover is good for tar, but it won’t touch paint. The solution is to use good old Brasso metal polish. This contains solvents and a mild abrasive and it took the paint on my car off with ease.

TFR (see previous tips) will also get it off, and is my preferred solution now.


Frozen Washers

If the water in your washer reservoir freezes it’s because you haven’t got a high enough concentration of detergent/antifreeze in it (if you’ve only got water in then it serves you right!)

Try to avoid the situation first of all by using a high enough concentration of screenwash based on what the label says (or use the recipes above), and listen to what the weathermen are forecasting. I tend to use a summer mix until the first sign of frost, then I go to a winter mix irrespective of what the weather is actually doing.

If you do get caught out, add 500mls of methylated spirits, available from any hardware or decorating store (DON’T use turpentine or turpentine substitute) in the washer reservoir if there’s enough head space. Around 800mls of meths would protect you down to around -9ºC or so, even if you had just water in there. It will gradually defrost any ice which has formed.

Sometimes, it isn’t your reservoir or pipes but the nozzles which have frozen (rain and moisture gets in and freezes, even if you have a good winter mix in the reservoir). In this case you can pour warm water on them (NOT on the windscreen – it could crack) and then quickly try the pump. On the rear one, I often get it working just by holding my thumb on it for about 30 seconds to warm it.


Washer Jets Changing Direction

A build up of limescale or other deposits from the washer reservoir can lead to your washer jets squirting all over the place. It used to drive me mad until I realised the jets weren’t actually moving!

Use Cillit Bang Lime & Grime. Just a few drops on the nozzles, and after a few minutes your jets will be squirting at full power where they are supposed to.

A longer term solution is to use rain water or the condensate from a dehumidifier instead of tap water in your screenwash (especially if you live in a hard water area). That way, there’s no lime to build up in the first place. Make sure you boil it and filter out any crap first.

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