Cleaning Wiper Blades Is a Beginner Task for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Clean Wiper Blades at Home.
- DIY Difficulty Level: Beginner
- Time Required: 10 to 20 minutes
- Tools & Materials: Dish soap, microfiber cloths, rubbing alcohol, vinegar (optional)
What Are Wiper Blades?
Windshield wipers are the first line of defense when it comes to driving. They let you see the roadway despite dirt, rain, sleet, and snow so you can drive confidently. Over time, the wipers can deteriorate, but there are ways you can extend their life.
You probably don’t think about how dirty your windshield wipers are until you’re driving down the highway and have difficulty seeing the roadway. When you turn on the wipers, you find that instead of helping you see better, they make the situation worse by smearing the dirt and grime that’s already accumulated on your windshield.
While it’s important to replace your wiper blades regularly, be wary of shops or oil change places trying to get you to buy them more often than you need to. Sometimes cleaning your wiper blades will be enough to make your wipers as good as new.
Is It Safe to Drive With Dirty Wiper Blades?
Neglecting your windshield wipers can cause certain problems. Dirty wiper blades won’t work well, no matter how much windshield wiper fluid you spray. They end up causing streaks on your windshield. If they push debris around repeatedly instead of clearing it off the windshield, they might even cause scratches.
Cleaning your windshield wipers is a simple task that you can complete at home. All you need are a few tools and about 10 to 20 minutes to tackle this project, and you’ll be able to see clearly out your windshield.
When To Clean Wiper Blades
It’s best to clean wiper blades at least once per month. Doing so will keep them in top working condition. However, if you find it difficult to drive and operate your wipers, it’s likely time to either clean or replace them.
What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need to Clean Wiper Blades?
Although it’s best to clean your windshield wipers at least once per month, you might need to clean them more often if you notice the following:
- The wipers squeak as they move across your windshield
- They leave streaks on your windshield
- The wipers skip while they wipe instead of moving cleanly and uninterrupted
All of those annoying and potentially dangerous problems are likely caused by dirty wiper blades. Luckily, you can easily clean them yourself.
Keep In Mind
Since you’re cleaning your windshield wipers, now is a good time to check the windshield wiper fluid level. To determine if you need to top off the fluid, look at the reservoir to determine how full it is. If you need to add some fluid, use a funnel and pour the washer fluid directly into the reservoir.
You should also check the overall appearance of the blades when you’re cleaning them. It’s best to replace your wipers every six to 12 months. Depending on where you live, such as in a dusty environment like the desert, you might need to replace them even sooner.
How To Clean Wiper Blades
Before you get started cleaning your windshield wipers, thoroughly wash your windshield as well. Your wiper blades won’t stay clean afterward if your windshield is still filthy, so make sure both are squeaky clean.
Step 1: Lift the Wiper Blades
Most wiper blades pull up and stay elevated from the windshield. This allows you to not only clean the wipers but swap them out if you need to. Avoid bending the wipers too far back too far or you might break them. On vehicles that don’t stay elevated from the windshield, you can stick something between the windshield and the wiper arm to hold them up. You can also remove the wipers for better access.
Step 2: Wash the Wiper Blades
Apply a small amount of hot, soapy water or windshield washer fluid to a clean microfiber cloth. Use this damp cloth to gently wipe down the edge of the wiper blade. Make several passes over the blade with the rag until no more dirt comes off the blade’s rubber edge. Don’t forget to wipe the hinged area of the wiper blade. This step will ensure the wipers operate in a smooth and fluid movement. Allow the blades to dry.
If you prefer to use an all-natural product, vinegar works well as a windshield wiper cleaning agent. You won’t expose yourself to any potentially toxic chemicals while you clean your wipers. To clean them using vinegar, place 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1 cup of water inside a spray bottle. Spray this solution onto the wipers, and use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe clean.
Step 3: Wash the Wiper Blades Again
Cleaning the blades twice can ensure you removed all the dirt and debris that stuck to the wipers. Make sure they dry thoroughly before you clean them again so you can see what areas you might need to work on.
Step 4: Wipe the Blades with Rubbing Alcohol
After cleaning the blades twice, wipe the edge of the clean wiper blade with a small amount of rubbing alcohol placed on another clean microfiber cloth. This step will remove any residue or soapy film remaining on the blade. The rubbing alcohol will also remove any pesky oil left on the blades. The oil can leave streaks on your windshield.
Step 5: Enjoy a Clean Windshield
Get into the driver’s seat, and take a look out the windshield. How does it look? Turn on the wipers and spray some wiper fluid. The blades should wipe the fluid off the windshield and not leave any streaks behind.
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