Should I Wash My Car Before Tinting Windows?

The materials, shades, and results of window tinting are all popular topics of discussion across the internet, but you never really hear much about the preparation side of things.

If you’re planning a DIY tint, or you’ve just booked your vehicle in for a pro job, what are you planning to do in order to prime your ride for the job?

If washing your car wasn’t on the agenda, I highly recommend penciling it into your diary before you even think about attempting to tint your windows. Dirty windows and tints just don’t gel for a number of reasons, so to answer the question as clearly as possible, yes, you should absolutely be washing your car before tinting your windows.

When you book your car in to get the windows tinted, the installer will of course give the glass a thorough once over to ensure that the fit goes according to plan, but they’re not a car wash, so it’s not appropriate to roll up looking like you just drove through a swamp.

It’s also a lot nicer working on a car that’s completely clean, so it’s best not to only clean your windows. Take the time to give your car a nice sponge bath, or if you’re short on time, hit the nearest drive-through car wash. That should do the trick, but don’t stop with the outside of your vehicle.

Did you know that although tint film is sized and shaped on the exterior of your window, it’s actually fitted on the interior in order to improve longevity? Yep, so cleaning your exterior isn’t quite enough. You’ve got to give the interior side of your windows some love too!

It’s also a good idea to give your entire interior a bit of a Spring cleaning, as my guess is the installer won’t want to be working next to a total sty. 

In fact, it’s not just mess that pro fitters need removing from your car before a tint installation, it’s pretty much everything; we’re talking booster seats and things in the trunk. The fitter can of course remove them during the appointment, but if they have trouble getting them out, it will slow them down, and they may even end up increasing the price of the installation due to lost productivity. 

Why Should You Wash Your Car Before a Window Tint?

Now let’s discuss why it is exactly that you should be cleaning your car before a tint job.

Money and Manners

If a tint fitter is prepared to charge you extra if it takes them a while to remove all your booster seats and empty your boot of anything that could be damaged by moisture, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll charge you extra if they have to spend an hour cleaning all the gunk off your windows. It’s just good manners to send your pride and joy in there looking sharp to begin with.

Tint Longevity and Looks

If there’s a bunch of debris caught under your tint film, it won’t fully adhere to the glass, which means it’s simply not going to last as long as it should. It will be loose, look messy, and you won’t get your money’s worth, especially if you forked out for carbon or ceramic tints.

What’s more, if you don’t get all the nasty stuff off your window prior to a DIY installation, your measurements are always going to be slightly off, so you’ll end up with an ill-fitting tint with gaps here or an overhang there. It’s not a good look.

Optimized Visibility

Dark tints may stop people from looking inside your vehicle in the daytime, but darkness turns the tables. Come evening, it can be difficult to see clearly from the inside looking out, and if you fail to remove all the dirt from the glass, your night visibility is going to be even worse.

What Should You Use to Clean Your Windows Before a Tint Installation?

When preparing for a tint installation, cleaning your car with normal soaps, sponges, and water is fine, but it’s a good idea to finish the job with a spritz of Windex. You don’t have to go brand name if you don’t want to, but the cleaning agent needs to be high quality and contain ammonia.

What SHOULDN’T You Use to Clean Your Windows Before a Tint Installation?

As long as you don’t use any waxes, Rain-X, or other pretreat chemicals on your windows, you should be in the clear.

Final Thoughts 

There you have it, fellow tint enthusiasts; washing your car is a must before tinting your windows, and if you’re having the tint installed professionally, my advice is to contact the fitter and ask for specific instructions on how to best prep your vehicle for the job.