Glass Cleaners

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Whether itís windows or mirrors, a streak-free clean is what we all seek in a glass cleaner. We test a variety of glass cleaners to see which is the most effective.


The Basics

  • Basic ingredients in glass cleaners are ammonia and isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol.

  • Generic brands are generally cheaper than brand name.

  • Packets or bottles of concentrated glass cleaner are very economical and use less packaging. You just have to add water.

  • Homemade formulas can be very economical and can be made by combining ingredients like lemon juice and water, or dish detergent and water, or ammonia, rubbing alcohol, dish detergent and water.

  • New pre-moistened towels are expensive, over-saturated with product (which means they’ll streak) and they dry out if you’re not diligent about keeping the package tightly sealed.

  • Avoid using “all purpose cleaners” on glass, even though they say they’re ok on glass, because they tend to streak.

  • Most glass cleaners contain ammonia. If you want an ammonia-free product but also want to save money, go with a generic. They work just as well.

  • Many glass cleaners put “contains no phosphorous” on the label. But keep in mind this is standard in most any glass cleaner whether or not it is advertised.

Other Considerations

  • Use untreated or cheap towels to clean since they don’t contain dye or other chemical agents that may cause streaks.

  • Don’t clean on hot, sunny days since the cleaner will dry faster and may streak.

Be Aware

  • Don’t use glass cleaners on aluminum, paint surfaces, wood, or varnished surfaces.

  • Chemicals in glass cleaners are health hazards, so always use in well-ventilated areas and keep out of reach of children.


We dirtied some windows and mirrors with soap scum, toothpaste, greasy handprints, dirt and dust and then tested these products:

  • Spray-Away (ammonia-free): $1.14/100ml
  • Windex Original: $0.57/100ml
  • Nature Clean (ammonia-free): $0.50/100ml
  • Glass Plus: $0.42/100ml
  • Generic brand: $0.31/100ml
  • Homemade (dish detergent & water, no ammonia): about $0.03/100ml
  • Windex pre-moistened wipes: 3¢ each
  • Glass Plus pre-moistened wipes: 17.6¢ each

Cleaning Test

  • All the cleaners performed fairly well on the greasy handprints.

  • On the outdoor dirt and the soap scum/toothpaste combo, the ammonia-free products did the best job: Nature Clean, our homemade solution and Spray-Away.

  • The pre-moistened wipes left streaks and didn’t go very far, requiring more than one to complete the job.


When it came down to the tough jobs, the ammonia-free glass cleaners from Nature Clean and Spray-Away, as well as our own homemade formula, did the best job.



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