How To Use Steel Wool For Car Glass Cleaning

Cleaning a windshield properly can take a long time and is very exhausting work.

Using harsher materials like steel wool to clean a windshield might be a solution.

But is it safe?

Quick Answer

Steel wool can be used to clean a windshield. The sharp fiber of the steel wool can scrape off any sort of grit from a glass surface. It is recommended to use #0000 steel wool to avoid scratches.

There is more to cleaning a car’s windshield using steel wool than this.

I highly suggest you read on to find out more about steel wool as a cleaning product. 

Can You Use Steel Wool to Clean a Windshield?

Despite myths surrounding steel wool scratching glass surfaces, it is actually a pretty good glass cleaner.

The hardness of glass, according to the Mohs Scale, is greater than steel. 

Quick Answer

Using steel wool to clean a windshield is safe to do. The pillow-like soft steel wool has sharp fibers that can smooth out dirty windshields. Make sure to use a new piece of steel wool every time, as old or rusty steel wool can scratch the windshield.

The hardness rate of glass is 5.5 and steel is between 4.5 and 4.

That is, steel wool will not scratch glass surfaces and can be used to clean it.

The only way steel wool may scratch your windshield, is if you use an old one.

If your steel wool is rusted, has any debris or tiny stones left inside them, it can scratch your windshield. 

That is why you should always use new steel wool.

Elephant Brand Steel Wool #0000

Get this great steel wool to make your windshield clean and shine again like on its first day.

You should also make sure that it does not get wet, or else rust will start to appear. 

For cleaning a windshield, you should use superfine #0000 steel wool.

It is perfect for scraping gunk from windshields.

Plus, as the abrasive fibers are super fine, they will not damage the glass surface. 

While using steel wool on your windshield, you also need the right technique for cleaning.

If you do not have the proper method of scrubbing you may scratch the glass surface.

For example, if you only wipe in one direction or backward, you may scratch the windshield. 

How To Clean A Windshield With Steel Wool

You need a few products before cleaning your windshield using steel wool. These are:

  • #0000 Steel Wool
  • Rain X
  • Invisible Glass 
  • Sock
  • Rags 

Here are the steps to how you can clean your window shields properly using steel wool:

  • First, you need to wipe down your entire windshield using a dry and new piece of steel wool. In circular and firm motion wipe your windshield for 5 to 10 minutes straight. Focus on wiping any spots or water stains you find on the glass surface. 
  • The steel wool will leave some residue on the windshield after wiping, which is normal. Just wipe the entire windshield with a Rain X soaked rag after using the steel wool. 
  • Let the Rain X dry and prepare for coating your windshield a second time with it. After your windshield is dry, wipe it again with Rain X.
  • After the second coating of Rain X is dry, wipe the entire windshield again using a water-soaked rag.
  • While your windshield is drying, take a sock and soak it in Rain X. Use a sock to clean the wipers of your windshield. 
  • Lastly, finish off cleaning your windshield with an Invisible Glass coating.

This procedure can also be done without RainX.

The downside to this is, that you will not have a protective coating on your windshield if you perform this cleaning routine without RainX.

What you could do instead of using RainX is the following: Apply some car wax on the windshield.

I have written an in-depth article here on all the reasons why car wax is great to protect windshields.

Rain X Water Repellent

Rain X is a great product to apply and seal the windshield (and other car glass) after cleaning it with steel wool. If you do not already have Rain X, make sure to get it now!

Does Steel Wool Remove Scratches from Glass?

Quick Answer

Steel wool can be used to remove small scratches from any glass surface, including your windshield. Using a 4 ought or #0000 type steel wool, you can repair scratches on your windshield. Steel wool cannot fix deep scratches.

If you are looking for a quick fix for scratches on your windshield, then steel wool is perfect for you.

You need new and clean steel wool for cleaning a windshield, similarly, you need a new ball of steel wool to buff away the scratches. 

Using an old and possibly rusty piece of steel wool would do the opposite of repairing small scratches.

Using a coarser grade of steel wool is also not recommended. This will scratch your windshield instead of repairing scratches.

To repair the scratches on your windshield, you need to move the steel wool in circular but firm motions around the area.

Keep buffing the scratched area for several minutes. 

Wipe away the residue after you are done and check if your efforts at polishing away the scratches were successful or not.

If not, you might want to try again.

If the scratch does not disappear after multiple rounds of polishing, it is most likely too deep and cannot be removed.  

Alternatives to Cleaning with a Steel Wool

Steel wool can be used to get rid of the tough water stains and grime on the windshield of a car.

But it is not the only product to do so.

You can opt for home remedies, abrasive cleaners or a detailing clay bar instead of steel wool to clean your windshield. 

The below methods are great alternatives to steel wool:

  • Vinegar Solution
  • Clay Bar
  • Green Scrub Scouring Sponge Pads
  • Magic Eraser

Vinegar Solution

The vinegar solution works best for getting rid of freshwater stains on the windshield.

All you need is a spray bottle, white vinegar, distilled water, a rough-textured towel, and paper towel or squeegee. 

Pour equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and shake well.

Then spritz your entire windshield with the solution.

Let it soak for a few minutes, but do not let the solution dry on your windshield. 

Soak a rough towel in a vinegar and water solution. Then stretch it over the water spots.

Let it sit there for a few minutes before gently wiping away the spots.

Do not scrub too hard, because the abrasive texture of the towel is enough to get rid of the freshwater spots. 

After the spots disappear, take a paper towel or squeegee to wipe away the vinegar and water solution.

Of course, the glass surface has to be wet with the vinegar solution before you wipe it with a dry paper towel.  

Clay Bar

To get rid of water spots and grime from your windshield, you can use the clay bar method.

You will need a bar of detailing clay or glass cleaning clay, water, a spray bottle, microfiber, and automotive lubricant. 

A detail clay is an elastic compound that can capture any grit and grime stuck on a surface or inside a crevice.

While using it to get rid of the grim, you need to spray water and coat your windshield with an automotive lubricant.

The lubricant will make it easier for the clay to glide on the glass surface and prevent it from getting any scratches. 

Hold the clay bar lengthwise and glide it over your windshield.

Clay Bar Kit

This Clay Bar Kit comes with a clay bar and clay lube to make sure that the clay bar can work its magic without damaging your car. If you do not use it for your glass, grab one nevertheless to decontaminate your car’s paint!

Keep rubbing the clay gently on the windshield till it does not stick to the glass surface anymore.

When the clay will move smoothly on the glass surface, you can deduce that your windshield is rid of all grim.

Finish off the cleaning with a last wipe down using a dry microfiber towel. 

Green Scrub Scouring Sponge Pads

You can clean your windshield using the green scrub scouring sponge in your kitchen along with abrasive cleaners such as baking soda. 

At first, spray water on the glass surface and then sprinkle baking soda on it.

The water and baking soda together will create a sort of paste on the glass surface.

Then you should get to scrubbing using the green sponge.

Only scrub using this when the glass surface is wet. 

After you are done scrubbing, rinse away the residue. Wipe down the windshield one last time with a rag. 

Magic Eraser

A magic eraser is actually a wonderful tool to clean a multitude of different surfaces in your car.

It is moreover great for glass cleaning.

I have written a dedicated article about this topic because magic erasers are just great at cleaning glass. Make sure to read it here!

Key Takeaways

  • Steel wool can clean car glass
  • Use #0000 steel wool
  • Old and rusty steel wool will leave scratches
  • #0000 steel wool can be used to get rid of small scratches in the glass
  • Consider using a magic eraser to clean your windshield
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge