Instructables

How to remove car window tint: the not messy, cheap, easy way

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Removing tint & stickers from car windows
So easy you'll slap yo' mamma!!!

This instructable covers removing tint (and stickers) from windows. It is specifically geared to removing tinting from 5th generation Honda Preludes from 1997 to 2001, but can be used on anything from Kias to Hummers, to house windows.

Background:
I recently bought a nice 5th generation Honda Prelude with tinted windows. I always liked the way that tinted cars looked, but didn't think it was practical because most of the driving I do is at late at night. The new car also had radio reception problems. The antenna in my car is a thin wire layer on the back window above the defroster lines. Asking around I learned that the tint in my rear window was likely causing my poor reception (it was). These two reasons drove me to removing the professionally installed tint the car came with.

After calling a tint shop and getting a quote of $140 to get the 5 window (2 doors, 2 rear quarters, and rear window) tint removed I decided there had to be a better way. I did some research online and prepared myself for a messy painful process. It turned out to be easy, so easy I figured I'd write it up for you.

The advantages of this method are that you do not need to cut the tint off at all (no razorblades = no mess) and so it is safe on your rear window without any fear of messing up your rear defroster or antenna lines. The method is also significantly faster, cleaner, greener, less messy, and less hazardous to your health.

General idea:
The goal here is to steam the window and tint so much that the glue releases itself from the window. Then all you have to do is slowly pull the tint off of the window (as you continue to steam) and the glue comes with it - no mess!

References:
This write-up is a basic version of the special technique used by the professionals at Tint Removers (tintremovers.com).  Tint Removers uses a specialized green method of tint removal that does not leave toxic chemicals for professional car, home, commercial office and store window tint removal services.  This write-up is based on an interview with Tint Removers.  If you are interested in professional service or have specific questions for Tint Removers, they can be contacted at quotes@tintremovers.com.  Feel free to reproduce this article but make sure to include a link to this article.

Disclaimer:
Steamers release extremely hot steam... which translates to hot condensate. When combined with tight spaces and or the use of beer as a motivational tool, injury can result. Use common sense, don't burn yourself with the steamer.
Tint will make your car look better to the opposite sex, protects from the UV rays, and wards off thieves. Removing it however, will make it easier to actually see while driving, sometimes important.

Thanks for all of the positive comments. If you liked this article, please rate it, and include your pre-tint-removal & post-tint-removal pictures! (if you didn't like it, let me know what is missing)

Keywords:
Window tinting,remove tinting, tinted, car tint, prelude, steamer, window steamer, remove tint, removing car tint, removing window tint, removing tinting, tint removal, bubbling tint, old tint, how to remove tint.
 
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anne10241 month ago

Went to Walmart and
purchased the only (CRAPPY) steamer they had. The steam method works very
well, even with the crappy steamer. The film comes in two layers and being that my steamer was not strong, I had to repeat the steaming process in some areas. There
was glue left behind. ( I was working
on my back window with
the defroster) I found that wetting dryer sheets with ammonia and placing
them on the window to soak works well to get those little pieces of unreachable
tint at the bottom of back window as well as the residual glue. Using a plastic "razor”, (that came with
my glass top stove); I removed the little pieces of tint. I waited about 10 mins and grabbed one dryer
sheet at a time, starting wiping until all the dryer sheets and adhesive were
removed. I then just used a damp washrag
and dried to a beautiful shine. For
those who live in "love bug country" use the same method for your
affected areas, replacing ammonia with DAWN and wet DS with water...let soak
and LB will come off. Been using this
method for years and saves time and money!
:)

netta4202 months ago

I retired from a shop that worked with Plexiglas and polycarbonite, both come with a thin sheet of paper adhered to the surface of the plex with an adhesive, both sides, for protection. If the sheet was exposed to long term sun or was very old, the paper seemed to become "one" with the plexi. We used a heat gun to soften the adhesive, this made the paper removal very simple. Just get a corner started, enough to grab, slightly heat an area behind this corner and start to apply pulling pressure, coordinate with the heat gun and pulling, don't be burning the fingers with the heat gun, pay attention and it will gently release. Worked for me for 30 years. Good Luck. Have not tried it with after market window tint yet, but same principle.

SimonI13 months ago

The tips are really nice and the steps for removing car window tint is effective . Many time we find that after removing tinting films there are scratches on the side glasses . The above process worked well, . Thank you instructables for this valuable
post.

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you so much for this instructable! I just bought a new to me 1998 Subaru Outback, which is a lovely car, but had terrible, terrible tint film on the windows! 'Had' is the key word here, thanks to your instructions, I was able to remove all of the bubbled, torn tint off of the windows this afternoon! The steamer worked like a charm... a few of the windows were so badly bubbled and the removal on those left a lot of glue behind, I found good old 'Goof-Off' worked perfectly for removing that residue. Tip, put the goof-off on a cotton ball (not on a paper towel or regular towel), rub it around, then wipe it off with a regular towel right away before it dries. Using the cotton ball keeps from wasting the goof-off, it just soaks into a towel... and there was a limited amount available for me to 'borrow' from my husband's workshop! Anyway, thank you so much, you have made me very happy today! My windows look great!
mahendra261 year ago
I recently came across you blog while searching on the internet on how to remove window tint. I bought a used Infiniti which had dark tint on all windows. It was difficult to see out of the driver and passenger side windows at night. I took you instructions and used a steamer I had - got the tint on the driver's side out in about 20 minutes. On the passenger side, I started the removal and cut slits at about 4" across the tint - this helped me to get the tint out in about 5 minutes. Glue was left over on both sides. Tried goof off and lacquer thinner - both were messy. Then just used the steamer to heat the glue and wiped it off!
phx2slc3 years ago
Great humor in the instructions. Apologies to all of you who ran out and purchased a steamer. I was able to remove my tint from the front driver and passenger windows with a hot air hair dryer kindly "donated" by my spouse. No water mess required. I had a few small patches of glue which I removed with some adhesive solvent.
well yeah..I did think about a hair dryer, but I wanted the steamer for other things...wondered if the moist heat would be better..guess you are saying it didn't matter.
papiwapi2 years ago
Can we use a heat gun used to remove paint?
I wouldn't. The steam is a little more gentle...I think the heat gun would crack the glass
Thank you so much, this worked amazingly well. Steamers are more expensive in Australia but I still managed to get away with under $50. The tint was on the Rav 4 when we bought it..and one window had gone a little cloudy and ripply. Now...they are all like that and you have to drive with the windows down when turning corners so you can see...very dangerous. So I followed the above and have removed the tint from the worst window. Will encourage my husband to get involved and do the rest cos its his car. Did find some residue glue...cleaned up with eucalyptus oil..the water soluble type.
ddemura2 years ago
We also got stopped for illegal tinting even though it was on there when we bought the truck. It has started bubbling and has become impossible to see through. I am going to attempt this tomorrow with my clothes steamer.
chris4.82 years ago
Thanks for the tip. I will have to remove mine tomorrow. Got a ticket today for "illegal window tinting" on front driver and passenger side. In texas 25 is the lowest you can go, mine was 7. It was on the windows when I bought the truck 6 months ago. Had no idea they were illegal. Thanks again.
gneal2 years ago
Thanks for your help on removing my window tinting. My car got passed down from brother to brother and by the time it got to me, the tint had started to peel off. I wanted to pull it up, but I didn't know if that would be bad or not. Thanks again for the help!
myrbri2 years ago
Can I use a steamer in the winter or will it crack my windows. The garage mechanic took it of off my sons car but left the glue on it. I used Mean Green and it came off so easy.
bonigirl2842 years ago
can you use a steam cleaner instead of a clothes steamer?
bairdos2 years ago
I had a very tough and long time removing the film from my rear window (many hours). The film was hazy to see through and had bubbles in it due to age; perhaps this and the defroster lines made it harder to remove film in large amounts (I had no problems with a side window).

- if going to steam, I suggest using a strong steamer that can deliver steam continuously (mine was small and weak and could not do this)
- it was easier for me to lift and pull the film with tweezers than with my hand
- for my situation it was quicker to use a hair dryer and use more force with the tweezers. The glue was left behind and it was easily removed with ammonia/adhesive removing product
bckeye2 years ago
This worked like a charm. If you are working on any window but the rear and go a bit too fast and leave adhesive behind, no worries. get a straight edge razor blade and steam the glue, simply scrape up the glue and wipe it on a paper towel. if you got the adhesive steamy enough it'll come off with no problem.
roomba2 years ago
I was so cheap, I used a hot iron turned up all the way with the steam put on max. A little more awkward but it worked.

Your handheld steamer is a better option.
paintphone2 years ago
Defiantly going to try this out, sounds better then the windex and steel wool that the detail shop uses
asd-markett2 years ago
You are my hero!

I picked up a new (old) driver's side door for my poor, wrecked car from the junkyard today, and brought it home to find old, grody tint all over the window once I rolled it up. Since I'm fortunate (?) enough to have the door currently sitting on my living room floor and not attached to a vehicle outside, steaming off the tint with my iron worked like a charm, and it only took about 15 minutes tops (and not even half a beer).

Oh, and I didn't bother removing the panel, just gave the sheet of tinting a good tug once I reached the bottom of the window, and it all came right off. Probably again because it's old, so YMMV.

Thanks for the instructable!
doingy2 years ago
You deserve the Nobel Prize for something. I've hated the tint on the back window of the car we bought 2 years ago - impossible to see through it at night. I used the large steamer on wheels that was given to me as a gift years ago and never used until today. It was so easy and there was no glue residue. THANK YOU!!
dflack3 years ago
thanks for this post. I followed it, rather loosely, and it was a success! I bought a six pack of an Avery holiday release and was finished during my second beer, so now i'm tasked with finding a new project and finishing the rest.

I didn't have a clothes steamer but had an iron with the steaming capabilities which worked.

thanks!
Hellchild4 years ago
Im not sure why you would want to do this. can someone explain, please?
You get a ticket in california if your windows ANY of your front windows are tinted. The 3 in the back are ok just not driver and passenger side... $175 EVEN IF YOU BOUGHT IT LIKE THAT!!!
i just got a fix-it ticket in CA for my front 2 windows. $25 + Proof of correction. Not $175.
True that!!! I am on this forum for that very reason. :( Stupid law.
$250 in Chicago.
I know that. Its generally illegal everwhere if your widsheild is tinted. Not just California. and I dont see a reasonin "yelling" in the comments, i can still read it.
bmohr Hellchild4 years ago
The reason I needed to do it is the tint started to bubble and it got cloudy. As stated this method prevents damage to the rear window defroster.

One thing I was to use a long pair of tweezers the one shaped like forceps to pull the tint. Kept my fingers away from the steam.
My daughter's car just failed inspection due to heavily tinted windows. That's one reason, another, as stated in the article, is that it can be hard to see through tinted windows which affects ability to drive safely.
If you have yet to remove the tint please read my reply feed. I also was removing this tint for my daughter's (16) vehicle. Thanks
what kind of inspection?
State of Texas, safety inspection.
is that a law that it has to be removed?
your tint can only be so dark before the cops make you take it off, for safety reasons
I am from WA state In Seattle, And I have to take Coumadine (blood thinner) for the rest of my life, my Dr. gave me a note that I took yo the DOL and now I have a "permit" to drive my car with tinted windows.
I know this post is old, but to me it's new!

Cheers,
That's weak.
pdarcy3 years ago
He states not to use a razorblade on the window. I used a small coin like and australian 5 cent coin to assist peeling back the tinting, it did not scratch the glass and was very effective.
AlvinMaker3 years ago
Thanks a bunch for the ible. I just got an old acura and the back tint is so dark i can barely see though it in the day.
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