How to remove window tint from car windows [Step-by-step]
Not willing to pay to get your old window tint removed? Good choice. I'm going to teach you right now how to remove window tint from car windows by yourself.
No matter what your situation, if you need to get tint film professionally removed from your car windows, be prepared to fork over some serious money.
Unless, of course, you are willing to engage in a low-skill, light-labor DIY window tint removal. Removing window tint film from car windows by yourself is actually very easy provided you have a little time on your hands and a can-do attitude.
Here's my favorite step-by-step method for safely and effectively removing window tint from your vehicle’s window.
There's also an alternative method I've successfully used in the past, in case the first one doesn't fully convince you haha!
The Steamer Method
Ok, so this requires a little upfront investment in that you need a $20-$30 garment/upholstery steamer. Here's the one I use.
Keep in mind though that home garment steamers are actually useful in more than just garment steaming, so you can consider it money well spent if you decide on this method of tint removal.
Anyway, once you have the garment steamer, you need to follow the steps carefully in order to easily and safely get the tint of your car’s windows without causing damage.
You also need a pair of heat resistant work work gloves and a pack of standard disposable razor blades.
Nomex and leather gloves are preferred because Nomex doesn’t melt, and leather can protect your hands from direct contact with hot surfaces.
1. Fill up your steamer with distilled water, fire it up, and wait for the ready light to come on so you know it will be pushing steam when you press the steam button.
2. Make sure that if you are working outside on a cold day that you warm the car up first so that the difference in temperature doesn’t damage the glass. This may seem minor, but rapid changes in temperature even with tempered glass can cause unexpected shattering, especially on older vehicle windows.
3. Once you have done your prep work, you are ready to go.
II. Steaming and Removal
1. Roll the first window down just a bit so the upper corners and edge are exposed.
2. Put on your work gloves, and grab the steamer hose. Steamers with a hose and extended handle are preferable for this kind of work, but not a requirement.
3.Start with the outer window tint first, as this is the side applied first by professional installers, and you will find that it is much easier to start with the outer tint film and then work on removing the inner window tint.
4. Begin steaming the outer side of the window, focusing on the upper corners. Be careful around the area of the window you are steaming as it is going to get very hot, and is the steamer head it going to heat up a good deal as well. Steam scalding is no joke, so make sure you are careful and wearing your gloves at all times while using the steamer on the windows.
5. After a few minutes of steaming, pull the steamer head away, make sure you are still wearing gloves, and use a razor blade to work the corner of the tint film away from the window enough to grab it with your gloved fingers.
6. Slowly and carefully, pull the loose corner of the tint away from the window while continuing to apply steam to the tint as you lift it away. DO NOT let go of the tint, and keep pulling it away from the window continuously or it will get stick to the window again. Be careful of the steam as you work so that you don’t scald yourself.
7. Work your way across the tint from left to right as you pull, working a little lower on each left to right pass as you go.
8. When you get to the bottom of the window, go ahead and roll the window the rest of the way up and finish pulling the tint away carefully.
III. Finishing Touches
1. Discard the tint film after it has been completely removed.
2. Use Goo-B-Gone or similar adhesive removal product, spray glass cleaner, and a squeegee and cleaning towels/rags to finish cleaning the window. If you have any particularly tough spots stuck to your window, go ahead and carefully use a razor blade while wearing work gloves or using a window scraper razor blade holder to scrape the gunk off of your window.
3. If your vehicle’s windows have an interior tint film, repeat steps 1-8 to remove the inner window tint. You may find that the interior window tint film has loosened significantly, and it may come away much more easily than the outer window tint film.
That’s all there is to it. If you followed these steps carefully, you have quickly and safely removed the window tint film from your car’s windows for under $40. It’s the number one recommended solution by both professionals and DIY experts, so if you need to get your window tint off and don’t want to pay out a lot of money, this is the method for you.
Here's a video showing this method. Although it doesn't cover it in as much detail we did here, it's a great quick way to visualize the whole process.
The Solar Heat and Ammonia Method [Alternative]
This approach is only recommended if you live in a region where there is a surplus of sunshine throughout the year, as this method is particularly sunlight dependent. It is also intended to be used for removing interior tint film, such as what most installer place on a read windshield, but it also works with other windows as well.
The supplies you need are some regular ammonia in a spray bottle, soapy water, some black plastic garbage bags larger than the windows you are working with, some masking tape a razor blade or scissors, and a sunny day. Here’s the step by step:
1. Cut two of the black garbage bags in roughly the same size and shape as the window. Set aside.
2.Spray soapy water on the outside of the window you are working on, then cover it with one of the black trash bag cutouts you have made. Smooth the garbage bag as flat as you can against the window.
3. Before completing step #4, make sure to protect any inside surfaces near or around the window with plastic sheeting or a tarp. Speakers, upholstered surfaces, rear lights, etc. should all be covered up to protect them from drips during the removal process.
4. Spray ammonia on the inside of the window. You may want to wear some kind of breathing filter or make sure you keep the other car doors or windows open while you are spraying. Ammonia can have quite a potent effect on humans, and some people are more reactive to ammonia fumes than others. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy while working with ammonia, stop immediately and get some fresh air away from the car. Certain people have been known to pass out while spraying ammonia in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
5. While the ammonia is still wet, trap it against the inner side of the window with the second black trash bag cutout. Smooth out the plastic and make sure both garbage bag cutouts are secure. Most people use masking tape to hold it in place on non-moving windows, but you can simply roll the window all the way up to secure the cutouts anyway.
6. Leave the car with the window or windows that you are removing tint from in direct sunlight for several hours. The garbage bags will absorb the heat from the sun and transfer it to the adhesive in the window tint film, loosening it up to make it easier to remove.
7. After the garbage bags have had several hours in the hot sun, it’s time to start peeling the window film. Use a razor blade to peel up and loosen a corner of the film on the inside, then start to carefully lift it away from the window surface. The film should stick to the garbage bag as it pulls away. Spray a little ammonia under the film as you remove it to help loosen it. If you hit a piece of the film that is stuck even after you have sprayed it with ammonia, gently loosen it with the razor blade and keep pulling.
8. Remove any leftover adhesive with ammonia and very fine steel wool, then wipe the whole window down with a paper towel before it dries.
9. Remove the outer layer trash bag and discard. Wipe the window down with glass cleaner on the outside, and you are done.
Here you have a great video to see this method in action.
Obviously, the first method is far safer and easier than the second, and it makes a great deal more sense to use the steam method to remove window tint as opposed to the ammonia and solar heat approach.
If you're thinking of replacing the window tint you just removed with some new tint, check our recommendations for the best window tint.
Whichever you choose, be sure to follow all directions carefully and observe good shop safety at all times with your protective gear on and your work area free of trip or slip hazards.
I hope this guide on how to remove window tint from car windows proves useful to you, and that you can proceed with confidence in removing your window tint for little or no cost with a minimal amount of effort.