How To Remove Window Tint

Window tint is a favorite of everyone who’s tuning cars or generally looking for that murdered look. There is just something appealing about tinted windows. Even if they are an amazing addition and may totally change the aesthetics of your car, they have recently been regulated by the law.

Depending on the place of your residence, you may have to remove the window tint from your car. If you’re coming from a place that has regulated window tint levels, you might be in trouble, and you might have to remove them.

Most places and countries, even outside of the USA sanction the use of tinted windows to an extent, but tolerate if the windows are tinted in the factory. No one is going to go about illegally selling made cars, right?

Perhaps the law’s not the problem. You’ve just gone a little bit overboard. You’ve added the darkest possible tint to your windows, and you absolutely love the way it looks and transforms your car.

But alas, 7 PM has come along and you can’t see anything through your murdered out windows. Maybe you should have opted for a lesser dampening effect.

Whatever may be the case, you need to remove your window tint for one reason or another. Having it done professionally can cost a pretty penny. But there is no reason to pinch your wallet!

There are quick and simple DIY methods that you can employ to remove that pesky tint from your window.

The Mechanic’s Method

The mechanic’s method is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to remove your window tint. It might be budget-friendly, but it is hard work and will take a couple of hours from start to finish. You aren’t going to remove it like you would a sticker, even if you might think so.

In order to understand this method, we need to understand how to window tint works. Unless it’s between two sheets of glass, your window tint is most likely stuck on the interior window of your car.

Removing it can be a real hassle, but if you’re determined to do it, you will need a couple of simple tools such as:

  • Razor Blade/Exacto
  • Knife
  • A microfiber towel
  • Soft sponge
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Steel Wool
  • Window Cleaner
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Tape

You first need to protect your work area, so be sure to tape off anything you don’t want to cut by accident. Such things can be your seats, the car door, the taper on the inside of the car, and most importantly, your hands!

Also read: Best Car Waxes

You really, really don’t want to tint your windows red instead of removing the tint from them. To make sure you’re fully protected, consider wearing a thick pair of gloves before even thinking about touching an Exacto-knife. Workplace safety is always in trend!

When you’ve protected both your work area and yourself, you want to roll down the window a bit and try to find the end of your tint. Think of it like peeling the tape off of your Christmas present!

Once you’ve found the edge of your “tape,” start by gently rubbing it with the razor blade or the Exacto-knife. You want to pull it off slowly and with great caution, so take your time on this step. It’s not meant to be quick. It’s meant to be good!

And besides, if you practice caution, you will save time in the long run.

If you’ve made a little tear in the plastic material that is your tint while you’ve been pealing it off, ti’s no problem. Stop what you’re doing, and try to unify the plastic pieces together again. If you rip only a piece off, getting the leftover to start peeling could be a real nightmare.

When you’ve peeled off all of the plastic tint material, you should be well on your way to victory. After peeling the material, you’re going to be left with a lot of loose glue and residue on your window. Leave this be for now, and focus on removing the tint from all of the other windows.

When you’ve removed all of the tints from your car windows, it’s time to focus on the glue residue. There are a couple of methods to remove this and ensure that your windows wind up sparkling.

1. Scraping

You can remove the glue residue to modest success if you use your razor blade to scrape it. Scrape away and remember to remove the leftover glue with a sponge periodically. Clean your razorblade too, as you don’t want to be smearing glue on your window!

2. Alcohol

This is by far the most successful method of removing glue from your windows. Begin by applying alcohol directly to your sponge, never on the window itself. Alcohol can damage other parts of your car, such as the seats and the plastics.

Massage the alcohol into the glue, and it should begin dissolving. When you’re done with removing most of the glue, polish your window with window cleaner and a microfiber towel in order to get it clean.

3. Steel Wool

If the glue is extremely strong, then congratulations! You’ve bought a very high-quality tint, and you’ve bought yourself some more work to remove it. If the glue just simply isn’t dissolving when you have been scrubbing it with alcohol or is too tough to remove with a razor, steel wool will be your savior!

Never rub steel wool on a dry glass surface, you don’t want to scratch it after all. Apply some soapy water on the window and gently scrub. Remember to keep all of your plastics protected from the water, to protect them from ruination.

After you’ve removed most of the glue, try the previous two methods. If you’ve removed all of the glue, but the surface is still cloudy, give it a nice pat down with some window cleaner and a microfiber towel.

The Heat Method

Maybe you’re not the biggest fan when it comes to manual labor, and you have a few tools to spare when you’re doing your business. There are ways to remove tint quickly and simply with household items such as hairdryers or even a heat gun if you have one!

Hairdryer/Heat Gun

It’s simple physics. The film on your windows is just tinted plastic that is held on to your window with some sort of glue and adhesive. If you heat up the glue, you are going to weaken its properties, and that will make removal pretty simple!

For this method, you will need:

  • Tape
  • Gloves
  • Hairdryer/Heatgun
  • Razorblade/Alcohol (optional)
  • Window Cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber Towel

The principle is pretty simple whether you choose to use a heat gun or a hairdryer. You start the process by taping off everything you don’t want melted glue or heat to ruin. The second step is putting on your gloves.

You should always wear your gloves, whatever you are doing. You are going to be heating up film and glue, and the last thing you want is melted plastic stuck to your fingers. If you’ve managed to get hot glue stuck to your fingers, run them under cold water immediately.

Apply olive oil or ointment to ease the wound. If it’s looking a bit serious, don’t be afraid to seek medical attention.

Assuming you’ve taped everything off properly and you’re wearing your gloves, you can begin the process by rolling down your window so you can find the edge of the tint film.

Set your heating gun or hairdryer on it’s lowest setting and point in the direction of the edge of the film. You don’t want to put your heat source too close to the film itself, or you might melt the film instead of the glue, which will give you a whole new type of headache.

When the film has started to loosen, you need to put down the heat gun or hairdryer and pull it towards yourself. You don’t need to pull it too much, cause the point of this step is to give yourself a start.

When you’ve pulled a part of the film off of the window, and it’s currently suspended in the air, you need to change your perspective. Get out of the car and point your heat source in between the film and the window. You don’t want to be pointing directly at the film, cause you don’t want it to melt.

This method will assure you that you’re only loosening the glue. When you’ve loosened the glue, start pulling your starting tap off and do this slowly. You don’t want to burn through anything. If you are careful, you’re going to remove the whole tint film in one pull. Be sure to take your time!

Now, if you aren’t an absolute professional ( in which case, why are you here? ) there is going to be some adhesive residue on your window.

Don’t worry. You can solve this by starting the residue removal with the razorblade and finishing it with a rubdown from a sponge you’ve applied alcohol to. When you’re left with a cloudy surface, clean the rest off with a microfiber towel and window cleaner.

The Steam Method

The steam method is the simplest, but the slowest method there is. You need to set your clothes steamer below the tinted window and wait for the steam to do its magic. After a while, the window tint should be loose and easy to pull off. This can also be the low budget method if you practice your ingenuity.

For this method, you will need:

  • Clothes Steamer
  • Clothing Iron
  • Pot of Boiling water
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Window Cleaner

All of these methods are going to function in practically the same way, but take different amounts of time depending on how much steam they produce and how hot the steam is. The principle is pretty simple.

Place your steaming apparatus directly under your window tint film, but make sure all of the other parts of your car are protected. This can be a little tricky if you’re working with a small steam source, as you want to get as much coverage as possible.

Funny enough, a clothing iron should work the best and quickest for this method of tint removal. Fill your clothing iron up with water and let it heat up. Once it has heated up and it is able to emit steam with the push of a button, you should put it near the window and emit as much hot steam as possible.
Don’t put it too close, or the heat from the clothing iron might melt your film and give you a tenfold job to do later. Focus on coverage and get as much steam on as much film as you possibly can.

After a short while, your film should begin to look a little bit clouded and soft. This is the time to pinch the edge and pull it off in one gentle and slow movement. Be careful, as it can get hot! Clean the remaining cloudy residue with a commercial window cleaner and a microfiber towel.

A clothing steamer or a big pot of boiling water functions in the same manner, and they’re the least effort, most time-consuming way of removing window tint. You simply need to place the source of hot steam inside of your car and leave it there for a while.

The steam these two emit will fill up and heat the interior of the car, and if you’ve done everything correctly you should be able to remove the tint with ease after a couple of hours in the sauna!

Don’t forget to ventilate your car while doing this step! You don’t want all of your instruments to get clouded or ruin all of your electronics with moisture. Always crack all of your windows a little before doing this method to ensure the safety of your electronics!

If you’re going with the boiling water method, you need to replace the pot every half an hour. Boiling water won’t stay hot forever, and only one wave of steam is not enough. After 5-6 pots or 2-3 hours of steaming, your window tint should come off with ease.

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David Rodriguez

David lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with his wife, three children, and Hugo, his adorable medium-sized dog. For the past 11 years, he has been working for several automotive dealerships in Fort Wayne due to his lifelong passion for cars. He's one of the new authors on CarGuided.