We all aspire to have clean windows and clean mirrors. Nothing can be more pesky than toothpaste spots above the sink or dirt in your line of sight while driving. It goes without saying, but having a good glass cleaner is the key to a good view.
There is more than one way to clean mirrors and windows, but regardless of your method, you’ll want a reliable glass cleaner that does the work so you don’t have to use as much elbow grease to achieve that streak-free shine. Like other cleaning products, there are several factors that separate the good glass cleaning agents from the great: efficacy, smell, ingredients, toxicity, and price.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Biokleen Glass Cleaner
This eco-friendly glass cleaner leaves windows crystal clear. It has an even spray, no smell, and it removed the soap scum and jelly mixture we used in testing without smearing or streaking—even after drying, which most cleaners struggled to do.
Biokleen is non-toxic and it doesn’t contain ammonia, so it’s ideal for homes with children, pets, and those with allergies. Though the cleaner is colorless (almost looking like water) it produced highly effective cleaning in each test.
Since the official testing, I actually found myself using Biokleen around the house as my personal cleaner of choice, removing dirt, soil, dust, and water stains from my balcony windows.
The Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner performed fairly averagely during testing, and it hits right in the middle of our pack of glass sprays. It is worth noting that Invisible Glass can be used widely, including on car windows, and the spray nozzle has several settings for different spray sizes.
This glass cleaner did leave behind obvious dry streaks after the mirror test, and it wasn’t able to fully remove the jelly mixture on the window, but if you're looking for a budget buy and only want to spend a couple of dollars to clean your not-totally-grimy windows, then Invisible Glass is your best bet.
Chemical Guys Streak Free Window Clean Glass Cleaner
Chemical Guys makes a hard-working cleaner for bigger messes. The spray is wide and the spray nozzle turns to offer various streams, plus the cleaner’s droplets don’t run down the surface too quickly, which makes this cleaner a great option for exteriors and car windows.
This tough glass cleaner was able to remove the soap spots from the mirror and the jelly powder mixture from the window better than most of the other cleaners we tested. The jelly is a good mimic for gross gunk like bird poo and bug bodies.
Though the cleaner has a strong chemical smell, it barely makes wet streaks when cleaning and doesn’t leave any dry streaks behind. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty cleaner to tackle stickier and grimier messes, this glass cleaner won’t let you down.
This ammonia-free cleaner doesn’t have much of a smell. There is only one spray setting, but that spray is even and wide.
We really liked using Glass Plus and the fact that it leaves minimal streaks. I was especially impressed with its powerful cleaning of the jelly mixture on the window, so much so that I used it at the end of the day to clean my window of all the leftover powder and resulting stickiness.
This all-around cleaner is great for indoor and outdoor use. It removed the soap stains and jelly mixture well, with minimal streaking after drying. The spray is even and the cleaner doesn’t drip too quickly down windows, making it easy to wipe it away without rushing.
This cleaner also has some nostalgic value for me. My dad exclusively uses Hope’s Perfect Glass for cleaning car windows, so a chunk of my childhood was spent hunched in the back row of our cars, minivans, and trucks over the years with a wad of newspaper and the black spray bottle in hand.
While performance is tops, it does have an ammonia scent, and it isn’t the best choice for use around pets and children.
Force of Nature Multi-Purpose Cleaner (Starter Kit & 5 Capsules)
Force of Nature stands out from all the other cleaners we tested because it’s the only one that kills germs. It’s part of an eco-friendly cleaning system that you have to order, and then activate just before use by squeezing a provided vinegar packet into a bottle and electrolyzing it by using electricity.
One downside is that the mixture’s elements weaken over time, so you need to remake the cleaner every two to three weeks. However, while it’s working, it performs very well. It emits only a slight smell and its nozzle can widen and close to span a range of areas.
The glass-cleaning spray also doubles as an all-purpose cleaner that can tackle any mess in your home, even if you have small children and pets.
Many people swear by cleaning their home with natural products, using vinegar for cleaning countertops, shower tiles, and even windows. Aunt Fannie's Glass & Window Vinegar Wash is a pre-made vinegar mix that is specially formulated for glass, saving the time it would take to make your own cleaner.
We were satisfied to see the vinegar cut through the messes during the tests, though the droplets run quickly and the vinegar scent is strong. There were some wet streaks when wiping with the paper towel, and some resulting dry streaks.
I was curious to see where the common household Windex Original Glass Cleaner ranked after our testing. It did well in categories like even spray and having a nozzle that offers several different types of streams. However, the cleaner wasn’t able to clean the mirror and window as well as other cleaners, including a handful of ammonia-free options.
Windex is a widely known glass cleaning brand, so we expected a lot from this vinegar version that aims to be safer and more environmentally friendly. As expected, it was able to remove the soap and jelly in both tests.
While it is a good cleaner, parts of the experience could be improved. The droplets ran down the window’s surface so quickly, it made it hard to wipe them up in time. The spray also splashed back onto my hand at times, which left me smelling like vinegar for hours.
This foam cleaner proved to be less effective than liquid products. For one, the foam sprays all in one location. While this could be great for spot treatments, it also means you have to spread it around and scrub more. The foam just isn’t as even.
On the plus side, the thicker foam consistency keeps the cleaner from dripping down surfaces.
Having a concentrated foam can be handy for larger surfaces or exterior windows, but it can also be too much glass cleaner than is needed. It was harder to wipe up with a single cloth or paper towel, which can make chores last longer and be more wasteful.
The Invisible Glass Aerosol Spray cleaned the mirror well, but left a significant amount of wet and dry streaks when using a microfiber cloth on the window.
Though this cleaner is ammonia-free, it still has a pungent smell. And it unfortunately doesn’t make up for that in other ways.
Unlike other Windex formulas, the cleaner struggled to clean the jelly off the window, which suggests that it wouldn’t be great on tougher messes. The cleaner also left streaks behind with both the paper towel and microfiber cloth.
Like it’s liquid spray counterpart, the Zep Foaming Glass Cleaner failed to remove the jelly and powder mixture from the window, leaving streaks behind.
This foam version has an even spray, though it’s a heavy spray all in one location due to the nozzle. The foam does not drip, so it doesn’t rush you while cleaning. But there are better cleaners—including foam cleaners—on this list.
Each glass cleaner went through two standardized tests in order to determine how well they sprayed, cleaned, and dried. In the first test, I sprayed a mix of soap and water onto a mirror (laid flat) and let it dry, resulting in a light soapy grime that needed to be cleaned off. I sprayed each glass cleaner three times onto the mixture and then wiped it off with a folded paper towel.
I repeated these steps with each cleaner, assessing the size and evenness of the spray, the presence of wet and dry streaks, and determining how well the cleaner removed the soap stains.
The second test was similar, but instead of soap and water, I mixed grape jelly and baby powder into a gooey paste and then smeared it on a window. I let it sit for about a minute and then sprayed glass cleaner three times and wiped it with a microfiber cloth.
In this test I was looking to see how quickly the cleaner dripped down the surface, if wet and dry streaks appeared, and how well the glass cleaner removed the sticky mixture.
What You Should Know About Buying Glass Cleaners
Here's Why Window Cleaning Is So Important
Cleaner windows help you see better, which can improve your living room view or your vision while driving.
Windows also tend to gather dust inside and dirt and pollen outside, so cleaning windows inside and out regularly can help improve the amount of light filtering into your home, as well as reduce allergens.
Natural light helps our plants grow and our moods stay lifted, so we recommend cleaning your windows weekly to brighten your space and clear off any buildup.
How Should You Clean Glass Surfaces?
Before you buy a glass cleaner, you’ll want to think through how you’ll use it. Most glass cleaners are made for windows and mirrors, but some can be used on car windows, TV screens, and even stovetops. However, each glass cleaner comes with its own formula and instructions. Make sure to do your research before spraying throughout your home.
Most glass cleaners have ammonia, which has a strong scent but leaves windows clear with a streak-free finish, most of the time. If you have pets or children, you may opt for a more natural cleaner without ammonia, many of which use vinegar instead.
When it comes to television screens—or most tech screens for that matter—you absolutely want to avoid cleaners with alcohol or ammonia. This can rule out many glass cleaners, but a soft cloth with warm water can do the trick.
Things You Should Never Clean with Glass Cleaner
While glass is used in many products, not all glass should be cleaned with glass cleaner. Your glass stovetop is one of those items; read directions and care manuals before cleaning your glass stovetop, and never, ever use an ammonia-based glass cleaner on a hot stovetop. Opt for a stovetop cleaner made specifically for glass-top stoves.
You’ll also want to avoid spraying glass cleaner on tech screens like your TV, desktop monitor, and laptop. Some screens need gentler cleaners, and you don’t want to damage the screen’s surface or color. If your screen can be cleaned with glass cleaner always spray directly onto a cloth and then wipe the screen.
Does Glass Cleaner Disinfect?
Generally, glass cleaners don’t kill germs. Some may have strong chemicals, like ammonia, but that doesn’t mean the surfaces are disinfected after use.
Of the cleaners we tested, only one—Force of Nature—actually kills germs, and it is because it is part of a cleaning system and offers multiple uses in one spray. If you want to disinfect windows, we recommend creating your own vinegar mixture or using an all-purpose spray before cleaning with glass cleaner.
Liv Birdsall is a Freelance Contributor at Reviewed. She is most passionate about eco-friendly initiatives and alternatives and writes about sustainability across subject areas, including beauty, style, home and garden, and lifestyle. Her writing can be found on USA Today, Reviewed.com, Yoga Journal, and her blog muchmess.com. She works as a yoga teacher, QA Analyst, Copyeditor, and Blog Coordinator, all from her plant-filled home in Columbus, Ohio.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.