Cleaning glass is an easy housekeeping chore to skip—until suddenly, all you see are streaks of grime, islands of dust, and dirty fingerprints. Don’t let things go that far. Regularly wiping down windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces gives your home a polished, well-cared-for look.
Though some might prefer to make their own glass cleaner, many people turn to the convenience of buying it ready to use. There are many formulas, ingredients, and uses that can make choosing a solution trickier than you might expect. Use the guide below to navigate the options and select the best glass cleaner for you.
Clearing Up Glass Cleaner Confusion
Glass cleaner might not seem like the most complex product, but it helps to consider a few things when buying one. Available in various forms with a variety of ingredients, both chemical and natural, glass cleaners mostly involve choosing a product that’s effective and easy to use.
Glass cleaner comes in three basic formats, each with their own pros and cons.
Most commercial glass cleaners have a fairly lengthy list of chemical ingredients with various functions, but for most consumers, these products fall into one of two general camps: those with alcohol or ammonia as their main active ingredient and those with gentler, “greener” active ingredients.
Ammonia is one of the most common and inexpensive active ingredients in traditional window cleaner, because it effectively cuts through grease, dirt, fingerprints, dried cooking spills, and other typical glass grunge while also killing some germs. It even evaporates quickly, leaving behind a streak-free surface.
The downside? Ammonia can irritate the respiratory system, skin, eyes, and throat. Using an ammonia-based cleaner in a small, closed space such as a bathroom can lead to coughing and discomfort in the throat and chest. Breathing in large quantities of ammonia can lead to chemical pneumonia.
Spilled on skin, ammonia can cause chemical burns, and a splash in the eyes potentially can blind a person. Still, for most people without existing respiratory sensitivities, use of ammonia-based glass cleaners as directed and with good ventilation (open windows and doors with nearby fans on) is unlikely to do any harm.
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), more commonly called rubbing alcohol, is another common active ingredient found in window cleaner. Like ammonia, it effectively cuts through grease and other tough grunge, evaporates extremely quickly, and kills many types of germs.
Although isopropyl alcohol likely will not cause harm if used correctly and with proper ventilation, it is potentially toxic if consumed, sprayed into the eyes, or spilled in large quantities onto the skin, where it quickly absorbs and can cause symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, slowed breathing, confusion, and nausea.
Be aware, some surfaces require specialty glass cleaners. Any type of glass cleaner is safe to use on untinted windows, mirrors, glass shelves and tables, glass shower doors, and tile, but some surfaces call for specially formulated cleaners.
Our Top Picks
With those shopping considerations in mind, choose a glass cleaner from among these recommendations that will best suit your needs. The best glass cleaner should clean glass surfaces with a minimum of scrubbing, leave a streak-free finish and, in the case of multisurface glass cleaners, effectively clean and shine other nonporous surfaces as well.1Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
This versatile foaming aerosol glass cleaner, with the active ingredient 2-Butoxyethanol, is great on mirrors and windows and also shines up stainless steel, chrome, tile, porcelain, enamel, manufacturer-tinted windows, stone countertops, and greasy stove hoods. The thick foam clings to vertical surfaces, so there are no puddles or drips to worry about when cleaning the refrigerator door, living room windows, or bathroom mirror. Sprayway glass cleaner is powerful, multipurpose, and inexpensive, making it great for both professional and at-home use. This aerosol formula comes in a two-pack, each with 19 ounces of cleaner.2Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Open the curtains and let the sun shine in without worrying about dirty windows with Windex’s Multi-Surface Glass Cleaner. This vinegar-based cleaner leaves a streak-free shine on windows, mirrors, and appliances, and it comes at an attractive price point. In conjunction with Windex’s goal of reducing landfill waste, the plastic bottle that holds this multisurface cleaner is made from 100 percent recycled plastic. This eco-friendly cleaner doesn’t contain ammonia, so there’s no lingering chemical odor. While this Windex Vinegar cleaner works like a charm to remove smudges and fingerprints from glass, it can also safely clean television and monitor screens as well as many other surfaces, so users can buy one product rather than needing to purchase many.3Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Car windows get hit by bird droppings, squashed bugs, dirty handprints, pollen, dust, debris, drippings from trees, and more. All that grime not only looks bad but also reduces visibility, causing a major safety hazard. To the rescue: Invisible Glass. This no-ammonia glass cleaner is formulated specifically to remove tough messes from car windows, including tinted ones. This product comes in a two-pack, with each spray bottle holding 22 ounces of cleaner.4Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Reach for these convenient MiracleWipes whenever you need a quick touch-up-and-toss on glass, mirrors, sealed stone countertops, toilets and bathroom sinks, shower doors, stainless steel, chrome, and many other household surfaces. The wipes, which are ammonia-free, remove fingerprints and other glass grunge fairly effectively and are perfect for storing in the car to wipe away your dog’s nose prints from a window after an outing. Overall, for versatility and convenience, MiracleWipes are top-notch, and they won’t irritate skin. Buyers will receive a resealable container with 30 wipes and a microfiber towel for buffing glass to a high shine after cleaning.5Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Glass shower doors are notorious for becoming cloudy with soap scum or hard water deposits, but Bring It On Cleaner for shower doors is tough enough to cut through the haze. With the addition of oxygenated bleach, this high-powered cleaner dissolves hard water deposits and leaves glass clean and clear. It also works to remove accumulated stains on tile, grout, and faucets, giving the entire shower or tub a fresh new look. With frequent use, this cleaner can keep grime and hard water deposits from forming in the first place, eliminating the need for heavy scrubbing. Buyers receive a 16-ounce bottle of Bring It On cleaner and four rugged nylon scrubbing pads that attach to a standard drill for powering away even hardened-on deposits and stains.6Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Glass and ceramic cooktops are always in vogue because they offer a single flat cooking surface that wipes clean without removing burners or cleaning gunk from tiny nooks and crannies. However, cooking on the stove can leave behind oily and sticky splatters that require a tough but nonabrasive cleaner. For those looking to get a glass cooktop sparkling clean, look no further than Weiman’s Cook Top Daily Cleaner. This spray-on cleaner comes in a 22-ounce bottle and features a formula that dissolves grease and grime without scratching or marring the delicate glass surface. For the best results, give the induction range a quick spritz with Weiman’s cooktop cleaner after every use and wipe away with the soft, microfiber rag that comes with this purchase.7Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Enjoy a smudge-free reflection when applying makeup or just admiring a new outfit in the mirror when using MiracleSpray for Glass. MiracleSpray comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle, and buyers receive a microfiber towel to get them started buffing those mirrors to a streak-free shine. The glass cleaner removes fingerprints, smudges, grease, and more. It’s made to dissolve residue at a molecular level, so it wipes away with ease. Use the glass cleaner to shine up more than mirrors; it’s suitable for cleaning windows, light fixtures, reading glasses, and shower doors, in addition to giving appliances a clean, fresh shine.8Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Remove fingerprints from stainless steel appliances and leave a clear, streak-free shine on windows and mirrors with Sparkle Commercial Glass Cleaner. This product, which comes as a purple liquid in a 33.8-ounce spray bottle, also includes a 1-gallon refill bottle. Sparkle rapidly dissolves spots and quickly dries without smearing or streaking, for cleaning virtually all nonporous surfaces in the home. Plus, Sparkle is ammonia-free, so it’s safe to use on computer, phone, and tablet screens. This is one glass cleaner that lives up to its name, leaving a sparkling clean finish on glass and other surfaces.9Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
With Better Life Natural Glass Cleaner, users can feel good about cleaning windows and mirrors. Better Life contains no alcohol, solvents, dyes, or synthetic fragrances. Instead, it’s made from plant-derived cleaning agents extracted from coconut, corn, and palm kernel, so it’s safe to use around pets and children, and it won’t harm the environment. Better Life is a powerful cleaner, even without chemicals, designed to remove smudges and residue from mirrors, windows, light fixtures, and more. The makers of Better Life Glass Cleaner intend to provide a healthier solution to chemical cleaners while still providing a quality product. Buyers receive two 32-ounce spray bottles with an order.
FAQs about Glass Cleaners
Glass cleaners remove smudges and debris that can cloud windows and mirrors without streaking, but they’re not all created equal. Some contain chemicals, while others feature only natural ingredients, and most are well suited to cleaning other nonporous items in the home. For those who want the cleanest, freshest shine, some questions are to be expected.
The best glass cleaner can vary depending on its intended use—the cleaner for a glass cooktop isn’t the best choice for a mirror. For general glass cleaning, however, the best overall option in the above lineup is Sprayway Glass Cleaner Aerosol Spray, a versatile foaming aerosol glass cleaner that works on mirrors and windows and also shines up stainless steel, chrome, tile, porcelain, enamel, manufacturer-tinted windows, stone countertops, and greasy stove hoods.
Professional window cleaners use a variety of cleaning solutions, and the Sparkle Commercial Cleaner pick is a frequent choice. Professionals clean windows a bit differently, though; they spray the cleaner on the window and then use a razor scraper to remove every last trace of haze or residue before wiping the glass to a nearly perfect shine.
For a streak-free surface, spray windows with a good-quality glass cleaner and then wipe until dry with a clean, soft cloth. Microfiber towels work well for buffing windows to a spotless shine, and the pros sometimes use newspapers as well.
A single smudge on an otherwise clean window draws the eye and makes the entire window look dirty. All-purpose household cleaners aren’t the best option for cleaning glass because they often leave streaks or a film behind. Ironically, glass cleaners often cross over as appliance cleaners. One thing is sure: Crystal clear windows, mirrors, and light fixtures make a house feel fresh and clean, so a bottle of quality glass cleaner belongs in every home.