There’s nothing better than high-quality adhesives when we first get our car window tints installed. They ensure a solid fit and help us get the longest possible lifespan out of our tints — nice!
However, in certain situations, these adhesives are too dang sticky for their own good, making them incredibly tricky to remove when we want rid of our tints. How do you get something that’s designed to never let go, to give it up and loosen off?
Well, rubbing alcohol (otherwise known as isopropyl alcohol) is a great starting point. It’s capable of actually dissolving strong adhesives, gently loosening their bonds and pulling them from the surface.
As isopropyl alcohol is quite a harsh substance, it’s best used on tough, unvarnished, or unpainted surfaces, so our sturdy car windows are the perfect suitor. Another neat aspect of rubbing alcohol is that it’s completely non-corrosive on metals and plastics, so it doesn’t matter so much if you get it somewhere you’re not supposed to.
You may be wondering how the rubbing alcohol is even going to make it through the film in order to break down the adhesive on the other side. Well, basically, it just passes on through.
Even advanced ceramic and carbon tint films aren’t completely impermeable, so the isopropyl alcohol worms its way in and gets to work.
How To Remove Window Tint Glue With Rubbing Alcohol
First, let’s discuss what you’ll need to get the job done.
- An empty spray bottle – You’ll be using this to hold a 99% isopropyl alcohol/water concoction.
- Gloves – Rubbing alcohol isn’t as dangerous as some chemical alternatives such as ammonia, but it’s still a good idea to keep it off your skin, so gloves are a must. I recommend something robust like these reusable household gloves. Disposable variants just don’t offer enough protection, as they don’t travel far enough up your arm and can rip easily.
- Safety Goggles – I use these anti-fog safety goggles from Supermore. Rubbing alcohol can cause severe eye irritation and in some cases full-blown corneal abrasions. If you’re not sure what that is, remember the last time you scraped your knee as a kid? It’s like that but on your eye — not enjoyable!
- Face Mask – I’d recommend using something more on the heavy-duty side of things like this Trend Stealth Air APF10 half mask respirator, but if for some reason that’s not an option, use whatever you can get your hands on, even if it’s just one of those blue and white medical ones we’re all so familiar with due to the current climate.
- Tarp, towel, or cover of some kind – I know I said that rubbing alcohol is non-corrosive, but it’s still best that you protect areas of your vehicle from over-spray. If you’ve got any old towels lying around, they’ll be perfect.
- Old newspapers or plenty of paper towels – I’ll explain this in the process guide.
- Utility Knife – You’ll be using this to gently peel the corner of your film away to start the removal process.
Okay, with that out of the way, we can get started with the process.
Step 1. Open and Cover
Open up all your doors to increase ventilation, and use your tarp or towels to cover all the vulnerable areas of your vehicle that you think are at risk from over-spray.
Step 2. Get Sprayin’
Give the interior of your window a generous spritz with your 99% isopropyl alcohol mix using the spray bottle. You should aim to get a decent covering and avoid too much dripping. As long as it’s not a particularly windy day, you may want to use the mist spray option if your spray bottle has one.
Step 3. Readin’ the News
Take your newspaper (or paper towels), and separate it out into sheets. Take one, then plaster it to the wet glass, papier-mâché-style. Why, you ask? The paper will hold the alcohol in place and prevent it from drying out.
Step 4. Do Not Rinse. Do Repeat
Giving the pages the odd spritzing to ensure everything stays moist, build up about 4 layers of paper on the inside of the window.
Step 5. Stay Vigilant
That’s the first section of the process done with. Your alcoholic newspaper compound now needs to rest for at least half an hour, but your job isn’t over yet. You need to keep an eye on proceedings, ensuring the pages don’t dry out. I’d recommend giving it a spritz every 3-4 minutes.
Step 6. Peelin’ Good
Once 30 minutes have elapsed, peel the newspaper away from the glass, then use your utility knife to ever so gently loosen the film at the corner, then continue the peeling process, and voilà; you’re done!
Although, you may have to continue misting from time to time to ensure the window doesn’t dry out mid-job.
As you’re now aware, rubbing alcohol is the perfect solvent for breaking down window tint glue, and as a bonus, you’ve also learned how to get the job done. Best of luck!