How to Clean Windshield Wipers: The Complete Guide

It’s the first storm of the year and the rain’s coming down hard. You turn on your windshield wipers to see through the downpour. Instead of road, you’re greeted by a huge, muddy smear across the windshield.

A dirty windshield blocks the driver’s vision. It also causes glare from oncoming headlights that blind the driver. Too many accidents happen each year because someone neglected their windshield wipers.

Don’t add your car to the accident statistics. It takes less than an hour to learn how to clean windshield wipers. Set aside the time this weekend after you wash the car to take care of it.

Gather Your Wiper Cleaning Supplies

The good news is, you don’t need any fancy cleaning supplies for this project. How many items you need depends on what wiper cleaning method you prefer.

To make it easy, here is a list of cleaning supplies for the most popular cleaning methods:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Towels
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Mineral spirits
  • Clean bucket
  • Sponge
  • Glass cleaner
  • Water repellent

You can never have too many towels for projects like cleaning windshield wipers. Use a towel to protect the windshield from accidental damage. Put another towel under your cleaning supplies on the hood to save the paint.

Avoid using harsh cleaners on the wiper blades. The chemicals dry out the blade and cut down on the 9-12 month lifespan.

Washing your car before cleaning the wiper blades makes your hard work last longer. Don’t assume a simple hand carwash is all you need to do to clean the wiper blades, though. To get the job done right, you need to take a closer look at the windshield wipers.

Get to Know the Parts of a Windshield Wiper

The only part of the windshield wiper assembly that touches the windshield is the wiper. They’re made from thin rubber or silicone. If this part of the wiper disintegrates, your windshield will be a mess during the storm season.

The wiper might be the most important part, but if you ignore the rest, it will break. Learning how each piece fits together will prolong the life of your wipers.

Here are the main windshield wiper parts:

  • Rubber or silicone wiper
  • Blade clips
  • Wiper blade
  • Wiper arm
  • Wiper linkage
  • Wiper motor

Take a look at your car and find each piece of the wiper assembly. Note the places where dirt builds up. You need to clean those parts after cleaning the wipers.

How the wiper assembly fits together is based on your car’s make and model. If you’re confused, check the owner’s manual.

Troubleshooting While Cleaning Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers rely on a system of moving parts to clean effectively. Dirt degrades the moving parts and makes them rust. Rusty parts break, leaving you with a huge safety problem.

An extra ten minutes to check the wiper assembly can prevent an accident. Don’t give in to the urge to rush the cleaning process.

Start with the rubber wiper. Hot climates dry out the wiper, leading to cracks. The cracks turn into missing chunks that can damage your windshield.

The wiper blade should hold the wiper flat across the windshield. Check to make sure flying debris hasn’t warped the blade.

Give the entire wiper assembly a once-over to check for rust and broken pieces. Look for any bent pieces. A bent linkage will make the wipers move out of sequence.

How to Clean Windshield Wipers the Easy Way

Start the wiper cleaning process with a clean car. Clear out any leaves, twigs, and other debris caught in the wiper assembly. Wipe out the dirt with a damp rag.

Prepare a bucket of warm, soapy water. Pick a mild soap that still cuts through grease well.

Lift the wiper blade and lay a towel over the windshield in case the wiper falls. Using a damp rag, wipe down the rubber wiper 4-5 times. Rinse out the rag and run it down the wiper a few more times.

If you can’t find a mild soap, wipe off the residue when you’re finished. Denatured alcohol or mineral spirits remove the soap residue and any remaining grease.

Turn your attention to the wiper hinges. Use a wet rag to clean off any stuck dirt. Make sure you rinse it off well so soap doesn’t build up in the hinge.

Allow the entire wiper assembly plenty of time to dry before lowering the wiper blade. Park your car in the sun for a few minutes to speed up the process.

How to Clean Windshield Wiper Blades and Preserve Them

Preserving the life of your windshield wiper isn’t too time-consuming. It does add a few steps to the way you maintain your car. Most of these chores take less than 5 minutes out of your day.

Add these tasks to your regular wiper cleaning chores. You don’t need to do all of them, but it wouldn’t hurt, either.

Get into the habit of clearing away twigs and leaves on your wipers every day. This cuts down the amount of dirt and moisture trapped against the wipers.

Put a little extra elbow grease into cleaning your windshield every few weeks. Pour some rubbing alcohol onto paper towels and degrease the windshield. Your wipers will stay clean longer and there won’t be any nighttime glares.

Whenever a storm hits your home, clean off the windshield as soon as possible. Don’t let ice and snow melt onto the wipers. They drag dirt and gunk under the blade.

If it’s possible, don’t leave your car in the sun. Extreme climates like Phoenix or Las Vegas cut wiper lifespans in half. Parking in the shade will get a few extra months from your wiper blades.

Now You Know How to Clean Windshield Wipers

Be thankful you have windshield wipers. Over 100 years ago, cars had no wipers to keep drivers safe. Instead, they used whatever was handy to keep the windshield clear.

Don’t take your windshield wipers for granted. They’re an important safety feature that can save lives. Learning how to clean windshield wipers is an important part of car maintenance.

If you need your car’s manual to look for a certain wiper part, search through our database. We’ve got manuals for all the popular car models.