How to Remove Window Tint

How to Remove Window Tint

Everybody loves a good window tint for privacy, but there are times when you may want to remove yours.

No matter the sentimental value you attach to your beautiful windows, surely that doesn’t extend to unappealing tints. When it starts to look like it’s been through a traumatic experience, with scratches, discoloration, and bubbling, it’s only natural that you’d want to see it go.

That said, if you’ve ever tried to remove window tint on your own, you would know it doesn’t come off easily. Luckily for you, this article will tell you the three best methods that will make removing window tints by yourself a breeze.

How Are Window Tints Applied?

Before we get to the actual methods, it’s important to know what window tints are and how they’re applied in the first place.

Window tints are shaded films placed on the window’s glass in order to block heat, glare, and vision. In other words, they act like sunglasses for your house or car. They increase privacy, protect your eyes from glare, shields you from the harsh rays of the sun, and, depending on your specific tint, may even strengthen the window panes themselves.

There are a lot of variations when it comes to the precise adhesive substance used by the tint, the kind of window tint sheet, and the specific method of application.

Regardless, here’s the basic process for tinting a window:

  1. The window is thoroughly cleaned.
  2. The tinting sheet is measured to match the pane, making sure to leave a 1-inch allowance on all sides.
  3. The material’s adhesive is exposed, similar to peeling the back of a sticker
  4. Both the tint and the window are then sprayed with a wetting solution. The adhesive is often water-activated in most types of window tints.
  5. The sheet should be stuck to the window surface.
  6. Imperfections are smoothed out with a sponge and a spray.
  7. The sheet is left to dry and cure anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Five Methods to Remove Window Tints

tinted windows reflecting the sky

Now that we know how window tinting is applied with the help of a water-activated adhesive, we can employ several methods to exploit this fact. The following section will discuss the best ways to remove this kind of window tinting.

Method 1: With a Scraper

If you don’t want to use electrical tools or chemicals and you don’t mind having to manually remove window tint from your car or your house, this method will do.

What You Need:

Steps:

  1. Use the razor blade to cut the edge of your window tint. This will create a tab where you will start peeling.
  2. Take your scraper and use it to carefully scrape away the tint.
  3. Mix some dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle to soften the remaining adhesive on the window’s surface.
  4. Use the razor for pieces of adhesive that you can’t scrape off.
  5. Once all the tint is out, it’s time to clean up any residual adhesive on the surface of the window. Mix one part all-purpose cleaner to one part water and use the spray bottle to apply it to the window.
  6. Scrub the surface with the non-scratch dishwand and then dry it with a good microfiber towel until no moisture remains.

Unfortunately, it’s very time-consuming which can make it frustrating to some. It works best on very old tints that have already broken off and peeled away over time since that means you’ll have less to work with.

Method 2: With Sheets of Paper

Just like the first method, this method requires plenty of manual labor to get the job done. However, if you’re working with old window tint that is still mostly intact, this is less arduous than the previous method

What You Need:

  • Sheets of paper, like old newspapers
  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Bucket
  • Razor
  • Cleaning materials

Steps:

  1. Mix dishwashing soap and warm water in a bucket. Pour it on the window’s surface and cover it with sheets of paper. The paper should stick to the glass.
  2. You will have to continuously wet the paper with more soapy water every time it gets dry. Let this go on for at least an hour.
  3. Once the paper has already soaked the tint enough, use the razor to peel off the paper along with the sheet underneath.
  4. Keep repeating the process until all the tint is off.
  5. When you’re done, don’t forget to clean the window as outlined in steps 5-6 of the previous method.

While this method is less time consuming than the first, it’s still a process that takes a lot of time. Furthermore, this isn’t something you should start unless you have an open morning or afternoon.

Method 3: With a Heat Gun or a Blow Dryer

One of the easiest ways to remove window tint is to use heat to melt the adhesive that makes the tinting sheet stick to the window.

In addition to this, this method uses commonly available materials and doesn’t require a long preparation time.

The biggest downside to this method is that it’s quite time-consuming, both with the removal as well as with the possibly tedious clean-up process. It’s also not effective on all window tints.

However, we still recommend trying out this method first since it’s a walk in the park compared to the other methods.

What You Need:

  • Heat gun or blow dryer
  • Razor or floor scraper
  • Heat-resistant protective gear
  • Microfiber towel
  • Cleaning materials

Steps:

  1. Find and lift the edge of the window tint, starting from the top to the bottom. You can use a razor or a floor scraper to help you lift the edge of the sheet, but be careful not to scratch the glass.
  2. Place the heat gun or blow dryer 2-3 inches from the surface of the area you just peeled. The temperature should be high enough to heat the sheet considerably but not enough to melt it or shatter the glass.
  3. Pull the lifted edge slowly while the sheet is still hot. The adhesive should have melted to a gooey liquid, allowing you to peel it away easily. For safety, make sure you’re wearing heat-resistant gloves.
  4. Repeat the process until the whole sheet is removed. Do not try to pull the sheet while it’s cold, as you would just likely tear the tinting sheet. Doing this would also leave a lot of residual adhesive on your window.
  5. If the sheet somehow comes apart, find another edge and start over again from the first step.
  6. Proceed to clean the windows as indicated in the first method.

Using a heat gun is one of the best methods to remove tints because the process requires minimal labor. Overall, it’s one of our favorites.

Method 4: With a Steamer

The fourth method employs essentially the same principles as the third one, with the added benefit of steam.

Just like heat, steam softens the glue and dilutes it with heated water so that it becomes less sticky. It also lessens the residual glue that you’ll have to clean up later.

However, the downside is that not everybody has a handheld upholstery or clothes steamer, and buying one for this sole purpose is quite impractical.

What You Need:

  • Handheld steamer
  • Straight razor
  • Protective gear
  • Surface cleaner
  • Cleaning pad
  • Microfiber towel

Steps:

  1. Use the steamer to apply hot steam to both the outside and inside-facing surfaces of the window.
  2. Hold the steamer 1-2 inches from the surface and distribute heat equally to the sheet’s surface in sweeping motions for 5-10 minutes. This helps the adhesive on the tinting sheet to dissolve.
  3. Find an edge that you want to work with first and loosen it up with a straight razor.
  4. If the sheet won’t budge, apply more steam and try again. The sheet will most likely be hot, so you should be wearing protective gear for this.
  5. Peel the tint off starting with the previously lifted edge while continuing to apply steam. Prioritize the surface that will be lifted next will give you an easier time.
  6. Peel off all of the window tints from the surface.
  7. Clean the window by doing steps 5-6 in the first method.

While this method is easier than most, it requires some additional tools. If you don’t have them, it might save you money if you use method 1 or method-2 instead.

Method 5: With Commercial Ammonia

Ammonia is used in many household cleaning products mainly because of its ability to deal with a wide variety of stains.

Other than that though, ammonia is also a great option for removing your window tints, as it doesn’t require the time-intensive labor used in the previous methods. However, it does leave a distinguishing scent.

What You Need:

  • Household ammonia
  • Spray bottle
  • Protective gear
  • Plastic sheets
  • Black garbage bags
  • Non-scratch pad
  • Baking soda

Steps:

  1. Before you begin, make sure to protect the surrounding area first. Cover the door of your vehicle or your house’s window frames with plastic sheets in order to prevent the ammonia from damaging anything.
  2. Cut black garbage bags to fit the surface of the windows, both for the interior and the exterior. If you can’t access the exterior side, such as when working on a second-story window, then the just interior will do. Set the bags aside for a moment.
  3. If your household ammonia doesn’t come in a spray bottle, it’s time to prepare it now.
  4. Spray both the interiors and exteriors of your windows liberally. For this step, make sure that you’re using protective gear like gloves and even respirators, direct exposure to ammonia fumes can have adverse health effects.
  5. Now, cover the window surfaces with the garbage bags that you cut to size. The glass should be wet enough to allow the bags to stick, but if not, you can use masking tape.
  6. Let it sit for an hour or two. During this time, the ammonia will soak through the tinted sheet and dissolve the adhesive holding it in place. The heat from the sun will help this process go faster.
  7. Once the time has passed, remove the bags. The tinted sheet should peel away easily.
  8. Clean the remaining adhesive on the window surface with a non-scratch pad.
  9. To neutralize the ammonia smell, create a paste with baking soda and water. Rub the window surfaces with this paste and let them sit for an hour. Afterward, wipe away the paste and wash with water.

Unfortunately, the set-up with ammonia is also a bit more complicated and you have to wait for hot and sunny weather for this to be effective. This is because it’s actually the heat from the sun that will help the ammonia break down the adhesive in the tint.

Removing Your Window Tint

Window tinting can be a huge pain to remove, but don’t despair. You can easily remove tinted sheets with a heat gun, a steamer, or commercial ammonia — three things that you can easily find lying around in your home.

With our instructions, along with a bit of DIY and patience, your windows could be sparkling clean in no time at all.