Having a clean windshield is not a matter of being a clean freak. A dirty or scratched up windshield can be a potential flight hazard, as it can significantly reduce forward visibility, particularly at certain sun angles. Knowing how to clean a windshield so you get the dust and grime off is important, and it has to be done properly to prevent scratching. Installing a new windshield costs several hundred dollars or more – money that could be spent on more exciting things if you take good care of the windshield you have.
Contrary to the belief of the patriarch in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Windex is not the cure for all. And it should never be used on aircraft windows since they are made of acrylic and will scratch. Paper towels can also be the culprit of damaged windscreens, as can exposure to propeller blast.
The optimal way to clean your windshield is to give it a proper bath. Lots of water and a little dishwashing liquid work well. But make sure you use a clean rag, preferably made of soft cotton or microfiber, to wipe the surface. You can also safely use shop rags, but avoid paper towel or dirty rags. If in doubt, ask if the material can be used on acrylic. It is also important to rub the surface gently straight up and down. Don’t use a circular wiping motion. You may end up with a permanent halo in front of you.
If giving the airplane a shower is out of the question, there are several products on the market designed specifically for airplane windshields, such as Plexus, All Kleer and Clear View. Don’t be afraid to use the products liberally and remember to rub the surface up and down.
Knowing how to clean a windshield and paying regular attention to it allows you to see better and prolongs the life of this vital part of your airplane. I used these methods for four years on my airplane and never noticed any new scratches on the windshield.