1641 W Prince Rd, Tucson, AZ, 85705
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5 min read

Don’t let your window film cloud your vision!

Published on
April 10, 2024
cloudy car window
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Just last week I had a client write to me asking for some information on blurry windshields. She tells me she refuses to drive her boyfriend’s truck, especially at night or in cold weather, due to the poor visibility. However he says he’s already wiped down the windows and they’re clean, so what gives?!

As a professional automotive detail shop that has been in business in Tucson for 32 years we get a lot of questions like this. One of the most common questions we get is….

“Why does my windshield always have a film on the inside of it?

Well, the answer to that could be a few different factors…

One of the causes of this mystery film is buildup of dust, dirt, oils, and other contaminants from the air. Just like the outside of your vehicle, your inside windows will collect all of the contaminants and cause a film-like substance on your windshield, making it hard to see through especially when the light hits your windshield at just the right angle.

cloudy dirty windshield
-image from reddit

Other sources of contaminants can actually be coming from the inside of your vehicle itself. The plastics, fabrics, leather, carpets, and other textiles in your vehicle could be off-gassing the contaminants inside your vehicle, thus creating the film on the glass that you are seeing. The gasses released off of these items are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some VOCs include:

  1. Formaldehyde: Found in upholstery and some fabrics
  2. Benzene: Found in plastics, synthetic fibers, and adhesives
  3. Toluene: Found in carpeting and upholstery
  4. Xylene: Found in plastics, synthetic fibers and adhesives
  5. Phthalates: Found in plastics and vinyl
  6. Acetaldehyde: Found in upholstery, plastics and adhesives

All of these chemicals could be emitting gasses inside your vehicle over time. This process is called off-gassing, and it happens in newly manufactured vehicles often. That is also known as “the new car smell”. This can also be caused by exposure to heat and sunlight, which Arizona has a lot of. Not only are you having wear and tear from using the vehicle but the concentration of the heat in the enclosed vehicle in the climate of 100 plus degree weather of Arizona is causing those surfaces to break down creating the off-gassing.

Interior vehicle temperatures on a hot day in the sun and in the shade
- Image from

During a 2018 study conducted at ASU in Tempe Arizona, researchers found that the inside of a vehicle sitting in the sun can reach 116 degrees within one hour.  Their study showed a vehicle's dashboard averaged 157 degrees, while the steering wheel averaged 127 degrees and the seats averaged 123 degrees. In the shade, the temperature inside a vehicle in the summer averaged 100 degrees, with a temperature of 118 for the dashboard, 107 for the steering wheel, and 105 for the seats after one hour.

Light reflecting on a car windshield showing contaminates
- Image from Starr Press

There isn’t too much that you can do about the extreme heat here in Arizona to prevent it from causing off-gassing in your vehicle. Window tint -ceramic infused window tint preferably- can help not only keep the inside of your vehicle a little cooler, but it can also help protect your dash and steering wheel column from getting damaged from the heat. Unfortunately, this may not prevent the off-gassing entirely, so really your only other options would be to keep up on keeping your windshield clean.

For cleaning your windshield, it is best to use a window cleaner that is specifically for automotive use. Other window cleaners such as Windex have ammonia in the formula which can cause damage to the windshield, or window tint if your vehicle has any type of window tint.  

Car window exterior being cleaned with specialized detailer glass cleaner

Not knowing how to properly clean your windshield can cause streaks and film haze. Using an automotive window cleaner and making sure you are using your microfiber towels properly will help make sure your windows come out looking crystal clear.

One way to make sure you are not leaving any streaks in your windshield is to wipe your window in one direction on the inside (horizontally), and another direction on the outside (vertically). This will help you determine where any  problem areas might be coming from based on what direction the streaks are going.

Interior of a car window being cleaned by a detailer


Dirty windows with film can hinder your ability to see properly, especially when directly facing bright sources of light like the sun. It is important to keep your windows film and streak free to avoid any potential hazards.

If you have any questions on what window cleaning products to use on your windows, or what microfiber towels to use on your vehicle please feel free to reach out to us.