You know how it goes. It’s time to put your new registration or inspection sticker in place, so you pull off the old one, only to have a good portion of it remain in place. Even if you do get most of it off, a sticky residue will remain to collect dirt, and make your windshield look awful. Unless you’re lazy, don’t care about appearance, or you want your new sticker to roll up at the corners, and peel off right away, you’ll want to clean the glass, and remove every last bit before applying the new one. Most of us will begin scrubbing with a pad, picking with our fingers, or spraying blindly with blue liquid and other useless cleaners. These methods may eventually work, but the amount of effort required will verge on ridiculous. If you would prefer to save the sweat for the gym, and completely remove any sticker from your windshield easily, then continue reading for our simple, 5 step process. Just for giggles, we’ll also include some of the commonly passed around techniques for this job for anyone that needs a laugh, or wants to struggle with removal.
The Stuff You’ll Need
You only need two things to complete this job. You may have one or the other already, but they are both powerful and versatile, so if you get them for just this job, they’ll pay for themselves in the convenience they offer. Once finished, you’ll be able to continue using them for hundreds of other tasks and they will be amazing at those jobs too.
- Quick n Brite. You can get it here. It’s available in multiple sizes, and in two different versions. You only need a very small amount to create the diluted spray used for this job. You could literally find the change necessary to cover the cost of the spray you will create by looking under your seats. Using the liquid will be easiest, but you can also melt the paste. Take about three tablespoons, and mix it into one quart of hot water to create an all-purpose cleaner. This spray will be awesome for stains on clothes, greasy counters in your kitchen, cleaning the dashboard in your car, and much more, but it’s also the perfect substance for melting away that registration sticker so it slides right off the glass.
- Good cleaning cloth. Find them here. You ‘ll also need a microfiber cloth to complete the job. You may have one already, but keep in mind, quality does matter with these. If you don’t already have one, or if you want a better one, we have a wide selection available. The one we used in the demonstration that follows, is our multipurpose cloth. After the Quick N Brite does it’s job, it makes the perfect tool to wipe the windshield clean and leave no spots, dirt or lint behind. After this job is complete, continue to use it for windows, mirrors, walls, counters, stainless steel appliances and more. It can clean all sorts of stuff with only water as a detergent.
How To Do It
Before you get started, you’ll want to gather your supplies. If you had old residue on there that’s been baked in by the sun, you may want to use the paste version of Quick n Brite. For most people just cleaning the single layer of gooey sticker left by one that’s been on there for a year or two, the liquid mixture mentioned above will work just fine. Paste is also a great option if you’re concerned about dripping, but you could also just lay your rag down when you spray on the liquid. Quick n Brite is the key to this technique, so if you’re just gonna try what you already have, you may as well continue searching the internet, and attempt method after method using vinegar and other stuff you do have at home. For those of you not messing around, and those that just want guaranteed results, our technique that follows will have your new sticker on the window in a matter of minutes. Once you have your cleaner, and dry cloth ready, you’re all set to proceed to step one.
The first step is to peel off your old sticker. Don’t work too hard, but do try to take off as much as possible. Once your windshield looks like the one in the picture above, you will be ready to move on to step number two. This same method will work fro inspection stickers, bumper stickers, decals, and any other window sticker you have on your car. The four steps that follow will take your back window or windshield from sticky mess to sparkling clean in less than ten minutes, and with absolutely no scrubbing, or risk of damage.
Once most of the paper has been peeled away, you’ll be left with the outside frame, or some portion left stuck in place. Sometimes it’s just that annoying white layer, and sometimes it’s almost invisible, but still incredibly sticky. If you neglect to take it off, dirt and dust would stick like glue, and your new sticker would have trouble staying in place. To begin the removal process, just take your spray bottle, and coat liberally with your heavy solution. To prevent moisture from getting into vents and other areas that might be underneath, just spread out your cloth first, and it will absorb anything that falls. If you’re applying the paste instead, use a damp cloth, or your finger to scoop some up, and then wipe it all over where the residue is. Once you finish, it should look something like the picture above. As soon as you have this done, proceed to the next step.
After applying the cleaner, you need to let it sit. Just let it soak in for a few minutes. If you don’t let it sit, then it will not have time to work, and the sticky stuff will still be tough to get off, just like when you use other cleaning products. If you do let it sit for 1-5 minutes, the cleaner will begin to break apart the goo, and it will then lift it up, slightly off the surface. At this point, if you take your finger, and just press against it, it will begin to slide around. If it’s not quite slippery enough, allow it to sit for longer, or apply a bit more cleaner. Once you do achieve the slippery surface, it’s time to move on, and get that decal off.
Once the cleaner has time to work, the surface will not longer feel sticky. It will feel slippery as you touch it, and the stuff that used to be glued in place, will be totally movable in most places. Proceed to use your finger to pull off the larger chunks, and continue until the surface is mostly clean. This should only take you a few seconds, and you don’t really have to worry about being thorough. Just get most of it off to prepare for wiping with your cloth.
Now that you have it mostly clean, use your microfiber cloth to wipe down your windshield, and completely remove every last spec of registration sticker. A single, back and forth swipe is usually sufficient to complete this last step, and after you do, the glass should be completely free of grime, and totally streak free and polished. Once dry, it will look like the picture above, and you will be all set to proceed with putting the new one in place.
Now that your windshield is sparkling, and there’s not one sign of anything sticky, you can apply your new registration, without worry that it will peel up, or fall off prematurely. The cleaner used is totally safe and non-toxic, so you don’t run any risk of damage. It will not discolor any material or harm the glass in any way. It does not employ harsh chemicals to burn and fry the sticker, instead, it utilizes natural ingredients to gently and effectively break down the grime and then float it off the surface. Allowing it time to work eliminates the need for scrubbing, or straining due to inadequate products.
Now, just for fun, lets review some of the ridiculous recommendations you can find if you continue searching the internet. It’s at least good for a nice laugh, but it will also give you some ideas of what other people are using to attempt this job. We would obviously recommend that you avoid the razor blades and baby oil listed below, but hey, some people like a challenge.
Commonly recommended tools for this job.
- Knife – Whether plastic or metal, this tool is mentioned as a good one for picking away at the glued on sticker. It will allow you to get underneath, but you may be risking damage, and who the heck would want to work that hard anyway.
- Razor Blade – These are better used for opening boxes, but lots of folks will tell you to use a plastic or metal one to get up as much sticker as possible. You could scratch away, and pick of sticky goo all afternoon, but that sounds silly in contrast to our method above.
- Credit Card – Used as another tool for peeling stuff away, it would honestly be faster if you just pulled it out to place your order for some Quick N Brite. Instead of picking away for the next three days, you could just wait for your package to arrive, and then finish the job in as little as five minutes.
- Rubbing Alcohol – A commonly recommended supply, this stuff is tough to use properly for this job. If we lived in zero gravity, it would work way better, but in order to dissolve the goo as intended, you really have to saturate the material, and intense picking or scrubbing will still be necessary.
- Vinegar – Similar to the rubbing alcohol, this stuff is widely mentioned, but if you don’t apply and let it sit, then re-apply, then let it sit, and then re-apply again, and again, and again, it’s not going to work. It’s nice because most people already have it, but without a good amount of effort, it will be tough to completely clean the surface.
- Baby Oil – Intended as a tool to loosen the really stuck stuff, this and other oils are recommended as a way to loosen stubborn goo after you have picked for a while. It can help some, but it’s certainly not fool-proof.
- Soap and Water – Not sure why anyone would try regular soap and water. If that worked, none of you would be reading this page. Skip this one unless you are a glutton for punishment.
- Methylated spirits – Have some of this at home? We didn’t think so. Who does? IF you did have some, you could try it as a solvent to dissolve the residue.
- Heat – Simple, but surprisingly effective, a hot day, or running the defroster can actually soften the goo, and make it easier to pick off. You’ll still be picking, but heat we can all come up with, and it should ease the chore if you give it a try.
- Peanut Butter – Yep. People actually recommend this, and even smarter people actually try it. Just like the baby oil, it should loosen the residue, but who wants to slather food all over their car just to take a sticker off. Why not just make a sandwich while you let the Quick N Brite sit and do the work for you?
Have your own tip or fool proof method for completing this job? We would love to hear about it, and it may help others too. Use the comments section below to add your method here, or use the submit a tip link above to send it directly.
These same tools will work with similar cleaning techniques to remove sticky stuff, old stickers, and yucky residues from almost any surface. For more information about how to do it, and clean more than just your windshield, click here.