Window tint offers many benefits to you and your vehicle. It protects you from sunlight and the heat it brings, and it helps keep the interior of you care cooler as well. Over time, the UV exposure fades most colors that spend too much time in direct exposure. Window tint helps slow this process and prolongs the life of fabric, vinyl, leather, and other materials.
Sadly, window tint fades with age and exposure to sunlight. The adhesive that secures it to the window loosens, and it starts to turn purple, in most instances. Bubbles tend to form between the tint and the window glass as it ages as well. Regardless of how your window tint ages, at some point it needs replacing or at least removing.
If you've ever tried to remove window tint, you already know it's not an easy task. The tint never gives up its grip on your window, even if the adhesive is weak. Once you spend a few hours trying to peel it off, the fantastic job of removing the glue remains to taunt you. We want to make this task more manageable for you. Here are some simple tips and methods on how to remove window tint.
Gather Your Tools
The right tools for the job always make things easier. Our how to remove window tint guides and tips assume you have some basic stuff on hand like something to scrape adhesive with or cut the tint. You can order a small kit from Amazon that includes most of the necessary tools. Your basic window tint removal toolkit should consist of:
If anything else is needed for one of the following guides, we’ll explain what it is and why you may need it. You probably have most of the items or tools in your home or garage already. If you don’t, order a kit like the one above or visit your local hardware or home supply store. Most large or chain grocery stores carry these tools as well.
Removing Tint with a Commercial Chemical
This method is possibly the easiest method, but it is tricky depending on the type of tint used on the window. If you installed the tint yourself, you know what brand you used. If you had the tint installed at a shop or car dealer, check with them to see what brand of tint they used during the period your tint was installed.
For example, if the tint you used was Gila tint, they make a removal spray that speeds up the process. Use it in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Spray it on the window tint and wait according to the instructions. The tint should peel off with ease once the chemical does its work. Afterward, just clean the window with window cleaner or rubbing alcohol.
Other window tint manufacturers such as 3M or Llumar sell similar tint removal sprays or kits. It’s important to use the right brand. The adhesive 3M uses is different from the glue Gila uses to hold the tint securely on the window. Typically, the removal sprays from one manufacturer won't work on another’s glue. Do some research and buy the right brand.
Use Soapy Water and a Razor
This is the cheapest way to remove window tint. You need a clean, preferably new, spray bottle, liquid dishwashing soap, and a razor blade or razor knife. Mix about half a teaspoon of detergent in a one-quart spray bottle. Use your razor or razor knife to cut the film six to eight inches below the top of the window.
Make sure the windows are not in direct sunlight and keep a water hose handy for clean-up. Spray a generous amount of soapy water along the cut you made and let it sit for a few minutes. Slowly work your fingers, razor blade, or plastic scraper behind the tint and pull it downward. It’s usually best to start near the edge of the window. You may need to cut the tint into smaller sections to use this method.
This method is most effective on economy tint or old tint. If you have professionally installed tint, expensive tint, or multi-layered tint, this is probably the least effective way to remove the tint. Try one of the other methods that use heat or window film removal chemicals. This method may still work well if you apply heat to get the tint to start peeling.
Removing Tint with Heat
Moisture and heat make the glue that holds the tint in place loosen. A hairdryer, heat gun, or clothing steamer and some patience are all you need for this method. Well, you’ll need window cleaner to clean any remaining adhesive from the window, and a razor blade might speed it up, but this method works with just heat and your fingers usually.
Start at a corner and carefully heat the tint. Using your fingernail or a plastic scraper, slowly work the tint away from the window. Heat small sections at a time and keep working at it until the tint comes off. If you use a hair dryer or heat gun, use caution to avoid melting the tint. It won’t take you long to figure out how much heat to use.
If you have trouble with our other guides on how to remove window tint, try using heat from a clothes steamer, hair dryer, or heat gun to get the tint to start peeling away. In some cases, the tint is most secure near the edges, so once you get, it started peeling it should get easier to remove. Heating the tint is a good backup plan.
Use Old Newspapers and Soapy Water
This method is one of the best ways to remove tint that is in multiple layers or refuses to come off quickly. You need several old newspapers, liquid dishwashing soap, a one-quart spray bottle, and a razor blade. A small plastic scraper is optional and might be safer than using a razor blade on stubborn window tint.
Carefully make two cuts at equal distances across the window. Make two or three more cuts at equal intervals vertically. The goal is to cut the tint into squares about ten- or twelve-inches squared, so you may need to make more cuts on large windows. Mix about a half teaspoon or eight drops of soap with a quart of water in the spray bottle.
Spray newspaper pages with the soapy water and place them over the tint. Leave the newspaper on the window for about a half hour. Do not let it dry. Keep spraying soapy water on it every few minutes. Start at a corner and peel or scrape the tint away from the window. Spray generous amounts of soapy water on the tint and newspaper as you scrape it off.
Some Final Tips
Window tint was designed to stay put in the rain, hot summer heat, and after your windows have been rolled up and down hundreds of times. So, it makes sense that it isn’t easy to remove. Our guides on how to remove window tint should work on almost any automotive or residential window tint. However, it never hurts to have a little help like the Little Chizler tool.
Razor blades can damage your window glass. When you make the cuts in your tint, cut with the blade angled downward instead of directly across the glass. Use a tool like the Little Chizler to work around the edges of the tint. It's safer than a razor blade and works about as well as the razor. It only takes one slip to gash your finger open or damage the weather stripping around the window.
Prepare your work area and plan to be there for a while. Removing window tint is not an exact science, and it could take an hour or six hours to get it all off and clean the windows. Make sure you are out of direct sunlight in a well-ventilated area. Even when using a method that requires heat, don’t work in direct sunlight.
Always practice safety first. Soapy water makes it hard to grip razor blades or pull on the tint. Wear a thick pair of latex gloves to help you grasp things. If you are using chemicals or any kind, including soap, wear eye protection to prevent damage to your eyes. Read the label on commercial chemicals because some may require you to wear a mask or respirator while using them.
While window tint has many uses from car windows to storefronts, it all degrades with time. Eventually, you will need to remove old tint and replace it with new tint. If you plan to have the tint installed by a professional, it saves you money to remove the old tint yourself. It might be aggravating and time-consuming, but our guides will make it easier and faster.