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It’s certainly a very real problem, needing to remove window tint. There are a few reasons you might want (or have) to do this. Perhaps the law regarding window tints is different in the state you are moving to. Perhaps you bought a new car, and you don’t like the “boy-racer” look the previous owner has put on it. Or maybe the window tint is simply degrading after having been sat there for many years.
Whatever your reason, if you want that tint to come off, you may be interested to know that it isn’t all as difficult as you might expect. Of course, if you aren’t confident with this technique, it’s best to take your car to a professional body shop – they can do the work for you. Doing this will also guard you against any mistakes, provided the body shop has insurance and warranties in place.
If, however, you feel confident enough to have a go yourself, we’ve put together this quick little guide to help you through the process.
We hope you find it useful!
Different Ways to Remove Window Tint
There are five well-known ways to remove window tint at home. Chances are the body shop you take your car to also uses one of these methods.
- Soap and scrape
- Soap and newspaper
- Bag method
You will need to get different things together for whatever method you are planning to use:
- Soap and scrape – dish soap, glass cleaner, razor blade, water, spray bottle, and rags.
- Soap and newspaper – dish soap, glass cleaner, razor blade, water, rags, newspaper, bucket, and sponge.
- Steamer – adhesive remover, fabric steamer, clean rags, water.
- Hairdryer – hairdryer, glass cleaner, clean cloths, paper towels, and a razor blade.
- Bag method – ammonia solution, spray bottle, clean black garbage bags, dish soap, razor blade, scissors, steel wool, and paper towels.
- Oh, and a nice, sunny day is also vital.
Getting the Window and Surrounding Area Ready
Once you have decided on a method to use, prepare the area. First, it’s a good idea to clean the window, so there’s nothing else to worry about. Basic glass cleaner should do the trick unless it’s particularly dirty. You should also remove any stickers or decals that you have in the window, so they’re also out the way.
Roll down any windows you aren’t working on. This is especially important if you are using the bag method, to allow good airflow through the car.
If you are going to be using a hairdryer or a steamer, get an extension cord ready. You’ll be working inside the car as well, so make sure your devices reach that far.
You may also like to apply some VPE (vehicular protective equipment) to your car’s body, especially around the windows you’ll be working on. Dish soap and ammonia, for example, are not good for your car’s paint, and thus you should take reasonable measures to protect it. Examples of VPE could include wing covers or seat covers. If you can’t get your hands on any of this, old towels and rags are always better than nothing.
Getting to Work
If this is the first time you’ve removed window tint, practice as much as you can before beginning work on your car. These methods aren’t too tricky, but it’s always possible that you might damage your glass – this could be an expensive repair job, so watch out for that.
If you change your mind about doing it yourself, that’s completely understandable, too – no harm done. Just ring up your local auto shop and ask them to do the job for you.
If you still want to get started yourself – wonderful! Let’s begin. As we mentioned earlier, there are at least five main methods you might choose for removing the window tint on your car. We will quickly run through all of them.
- Soap and scrape – Take your razor blade (or a similar object) and gently lift a corner of the window tint. Be careful not to damage the glass or the surrounding paintwork. When you have lifted it, gently peel the tint away from the window. Make sure you do this carefully – if the tint tears, you’ll have to do this all over again from a different point, and it may become quite fiddly. Once you have removed the tint, use dish soap to remove the adhesive that’s left behind on the glass, with a spray bottle and rags. After you’ve done this, give the window a clean-up with the glass cleaner.
- Soap and newspaper – This is perhaps the simplest method on the list. Take a soapy water mixture, made using dish soap, and apply it to the windows you want to remove the tint from. In this case, more suds are better than less. Once the window is wet, simply stick a piece of newspaper over the whole thing. Leave it here for an hour, but keep an eye on it. Whenever the newspaper dries off (which may be very quickly, depending on the temperature of the day), apply some more soapy water. After the hour has passed, simply peel off the newspaper. Most of the tint should be stuck to it. You should be able to simply rub off the remaining tint, or use your knife. If it’s properly stuck, repeat the process all over again. Again, clean the window using a glass cleaner once you’ve finished.
- Steamer – Get a fabric steamer, fill it with water, and allow it to heat up. Apply the fabric steamer to one corner of the tint, until it’s hot enough that you can peel it away. Continue moving the steamer across the tint, peeling as you go. Once the tint has been removed, use a dish soap solution to clean off the remaining adhesive and clean the window with glass cleaner.
- Hairdryer – Heat is used to remove window tint. There are many different methods of doing it. When using a hairdryer method (you could also use a heat gun if you have one), turn the hairdryer on and hold it about two inches away from the tint and glass. Heat up a corner until you can pry the tint up using a razor blade or your fingers, and then begin to peel. Use the hairdryer to heat the area you are peeling up – this will give you the best chance of the tint not tearing off and you having to start again. As per the other methods, once you’ve finished, clean the glass with glass cleaner.
- Bag method – The bag method utilizes an ammonia solution. You will want to apply soapy water to the outside of the window and, in a similar way to the newspaper, cover it with a plastic bag. Let it hold itself there like that. On the inside of the window, spray the ammonia solution. In the same way, cover the wet window with the plastic bag. It’s important that you protect the inside and outside of your car with this method.
Make sure the car is as ventilated as possible by opening all the doors and sunroof if it has one. Leave it for a couple of hours in the sunlight. The heat and ammonia solution will work to loosen the tint. When you return to the car, simply peel off the plastic bags and then the tint. You can remove any residue using the ammonia solution and fine steel wool, being careful, again, not to damage the glass.
Things That are Important to Consider
These methods are all relatively simple, and you’re unlikely to run into problems. Don’t be afraid to take your car to a professional if you get really stuck.
Also, be aware that you may damage the glass if you aren’t careful. This can be an extremely costly repair job, so take extra care not to make any mistakes.
Be careful when using the electricity-based methods (using the steamer or the hairdryer). Make sure that the piece of equipment and the extension cable (if you’re using one) is plugged in safely and correctly grounded. This is to make sure you don’t shock yourself. As unlikely as it is, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, here’s an important warning regarding the bag method. Ammonia is toxic and can seriously damage your health. It’s corrosive and, if inhaled, can cause serious problems with your lungs. It can be fatal. (Although concentrations found in solutions will be far below this level). If you get the liquified gas on your skin or in your eyes, it can cause frostbite or other corrosion-related injuries.
It could also damage your interior trim and seats, and leave a nasty smell if you aren’t careful. To avoid any damage to either yourself or your car, work with all the doors and windows wide open. Having good airflow is vital. You may also like to open the sunroof if your car has one. Wear a mask, eye protection, and skin protection while handling the ammonia solution, and immediately wash it off if it gets on you.
Which Method Would We Recommend?
For beginners, we would suggest the newspaper method, as it’s the most foolproof approach. If it doesn’t work, there shouldn’t be any long-lasting damage. If you aren’t sure what to do next, then simply take it to a professional. Using this method also allows you to have both hands available, to focus on the task in hand. You won’t be using any toxic ingredients, and the use of the razor is minimal to nonexistent.
Removing window tint isn’t quite as complicated as you might imagine, but it’s imperative to have a full understanding of what you’re doing before you get started.
We recommend weighing up the risks of doing it yourself compared to the cost of getting a professional. Then make your decision from that.
We hope you’ve found this article useful and, whatever you decide to do, we hope you have no trouble getting that window tint off.