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How to Clean Your Windshield With Steel Wool

There’s a rumor going around that cleaning your windshield with steel wool can provide you with professional-looking results.

The Internet is full of life hacks that can save you time and money. However, some of them are just complete nonsense and cause issues or damage for you.

So we researched to find out if steel wool really is a viable way to clean your windshield.

Let’s take a look!

Can You Clean Your Windshield With Steel Wool?

Cleaning your windshield with steel wool sounds like a bad idea, but it’s not as crazy as you’d think. Using the Mohs Hardness Scale, we can compare the hardness of glass and steel wool.

Glass has a hardness rating of 5.5, while steel has a lower rating of 4 to 4.5. This would tell us that there’s a very low risk of steel scratching glass.

While the damage risk is low, it’s a good idea to start with the least aggressive option.

We recommend using a high-quality glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. If that doesn’t do the job, you can work your way up using more aggressive approaches to scrubbing your windshield.

Try at your own risk!

What You Need to Clean Your Windshield With Steel Wool

If you want to get the bugs and other gunk off of your windshield, you can give steel wool a shot. To clean your windshield with steel wool there’s a couple of things you’ll need to have on hand.

First, you’ll need super fine “0000” steel wool. This type of steel wool is typically used to refinish furniture.

You’ll also want to have your favorite glass cleaner on hand. Some of the best auto glass cleaners also contain rain repellent and make a significant difference in the rain.

How to Clean Your Windshield With Steel Wool

You’ll first want to park your rig in a shaded spot. This is the best place for you to see your windshield and avoid streaking from your cleaner drying too fast.

With your vehicle parked in the shade, use the super fine steel wool to scrub away the bugs, pine tar, and other road gunk from your windshield.

If you’re worried about scratches, use an inconspicuous area as a test area. Once you’ve scrubbed off the gunk, spray your favorite cleanser on the windshield. Then, wipe it off with paper towels, newspapers, or a clean rag.

If you used a glass cleaner with rain resistance, you could test it out by spraying your windshield with water. You’ll see the water instantly bead as soon as you stop spraying it. This is how you know your windshield is ready for the next rainstorm.

Close up of steel wool on a white background

What Kind of Vehicles Can You Clean This Way?

You can use this method on any vehicle windshield. This includes passenger vehicles and RVs. Having a clean windshield is very important to keeping you and your passengers safe while on the road.

It’s crucial that you only attempt this on glass windshields. Any vehicle with plastic or non-glass windshield would be more susceptible to scratching.

When in doubt, consult your dealer or an auto glass shop to confirm you aren’t going to ruin your windshield.

Are There Any Risks to Cleaning a Windshield With Steel Wool?

Some people refuse to try this method in fear that it might scratch their windshield. If not done correctly, you could very well damage your windshield. If you were to scratch your windshield, there’s no repairing it. You’ll need to replace it.

This is why it’s important to ensure you have the correct type of steel wool and do a test spot on your windshield. This can help you avoid ruining your windshield and needing to replace it.

Is Using Steel Wool a Smart Plan?

If done correctly, this method can be a great way to keep your windshield clean. If done incorrectly, it’s a great way to meet your local auto glass sales department.

You should only use new steel wool to avoid any issues with contaminants. A spotless window can help you enjoy the landscapes as you travel on your epic adventures. What tips do you have for keeping your windshield squeaky clean? 

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  1. James says:

    As a service tech for GM for 35 years, the go to product for deep cleaning a windshield was a can of powder relabeled as GM windshield cleaner, but if you read down on the label or did a bit of research you found it was simply BON-AMI scratch free cleanser.
    This was the only scratch free cleanser for many years until recently when they removed the abrasives from Ajax and comet as well. Bon-Ami cleanser is the recommended way to clean a windshield of contaminants. Steel wool was probably just as effective and safe but hadn’t been thought of back then. Thanks for letting me share!

  2. Dallas Baillio says:

    Dryer sheets are great for removing bugs and everything else from glass. I read a Facebook post that said they cause cancer. I researched that statement and found an article with details that explain the source of this claim. The bottom line is there is doubt, but not a total rejection.

  3. Christopher Lewis says:

    Worked in custom collision body shop in the 90s. Used this method to remove any accidental paint or primer over spray.