One thing we hate to see: someone having to replace a windshield because of something so simple as cleaning it wrong. So, what do you clean UTV windshields with? We’re going to cover the dos and don’ts of cleaning polycarbonate—what products work, what products don’t and give tips for the long-term health of your UTV windshield.What is polycarbonate?
Polycarbonate is what’s known as a thermoplastic: a material that, when heated and cooled, forms into a transparent plastic sheet. It’s used in UTV windshields because it’s more impact-resistant (250X more!) and flexible than glass. As an added benefit, it does great at insulating a sealed cab. This is all super important when you’re out on the trails.
What is a plexiglass UTV windshield?
Plexiglass, also known as acrylic, is a clear plastic material that really only has one significant benefit over a polycarbonate windshield: It’s cheap. With a significantly lower resistance to rocks, debris, and cracking, this is the option that budget-conscious riders will typically go for.
These plexiglass windshields typically come in 3/16” / 4mm thickness, and are fairly easy to clean.
Now that we know how it’s different and why it’s time to go over the biggest mistakes people make when cleaning their UTV windshield. These are the common chemicals and cleaners that do some serious damage.
Can you use Windex on a polycarbonate windshield?
Polycarbonates can start to deteriorate, leading to structural failures, when exposed to direct contact with certain chemical vapors and mist. Windex, and many other household cleaners, are on that list. In addition, the luminaire integrity (a rating for light visibility) goes downhill with it.
That’s what is happening when you see a UTV windshield with fading, color changes, whitening, or even cracking. The most likely areas to break are along edges and pressure points. Need a replacement UTV windshield? Find one here.
BILLY’S PRO TIP: Overall, there’s one golden rule for the regular riders (without a Master’s in Chemistry): If it ends in -ene, -one,-ile, -ine, or -ace, don’t put it on your UTV windshield. So, if all those chemicals are out, what are you supposed to use to clean your UTV windshield?
How to clean UTV windshields
With Windex, 409, and a whole host of other products off the table for polycarbonate and plexiglass, there’s a really simple set of supplies you need to get your windshield clean as can be. The secret ingredient: dish soap. Like Dawn or Palmolive. It’s that simple!
Why dish soap works for cleaning UTV windshields
A good way to think about it is: when you wash your dishes, does the detergent seep into your plates, glasses, and plastic cups? No—because it was designed that way. So, alongside water, vegetable oils, and neutral salt solutions, the detergent will attack grease, grime, and mud but isn’t strong enough to mess with your windshield.
Complete UTV windshield cleaner kit
Get ready—this list is a doozy:
- Distilled water
- Spray bottle and dish soap
- Clean microfiber cloth
- Clean fine shammy cloth
Think you can handle it? We know it’s short, but the simple solution’s sometimes best. Mentioned in order of when they’re used, we’ll cover the best way to clean a polycarbonate or plexiglass windshield in a few quick steps.
PLEXIGLASS/ACRYLIC PRO TIP: The easiest way to clean your side by side’s acrylic or plexiglass windshield is to buy an acrylic and plexiglass cleaning solution, and use a microfiber cloth. After spraying and wiping, it’s important to rinse the windshield with clean water.
5 steps for cleaning UTV windshields
- Spray the entire windshield with your water + dish soap mix. If there’s some gunk really caked on, let the homemade polycarbonate windshield cleaner for a few extra minute
- With the clean microfiber cloth, drag across the windshield from the middle to the edge. – Don’t use a circular motion—you want the grime as close to the edges as possible.
- Flip to a clean, dry side of the cloth as necessary. – The cleaner the cloth, the less likely it will scratch your windshield.
- Using the distilled water, rinse the windshield with just water to remove excess soap.
- Take your Shammy cloth across the remaining wet spots for a final dry. – Rather than dragging the cloth, use blotting or dabbing motions to eliminate water spots.
Even with four items and five steps, the best way to clean a polycarbonate UTV windshield is a lot easier than people think. So, with that understanding, it’s important to learn how to extend the life of your UTV windshield.
Long-Term UTV windshield care
Just like your other vehicles, regular cleaning is one of the best ways to protect the outside of your ride. Most SxS riders who’ve kept their windshields in peak condition say they wash them after almost every ride.
Just as important, things other than chemicals can damage a UTV windshield. The most frequent reason we see UTV windshield replacements are warping or stress cracks from extended time in the sun.
UV light is already mean enough to our skin—don’t let it beat up your buggie too! Always try to park your UTV in a cool, shady place. If you can, a garage or shed is the best call.
Coated vs. Non-Coated Windshields
A coated UTV windshield will last longer because of enhanced scratch protection. When cleaning, it’s even more important to ensure that the microfiber cloth and Shammy you use are fresh-out-of-the-dryer clean. This ensures that nothing damages the coat so much that it starts to rip.
Get Replacement UTV Windshields
If you’re beginning to see warping, cracks, or discoloration, it’s not just an annoyance—it can be a safety issue for you and your riders. SBSS carries top brands like Seizmik and Falcon Ridge in multiple thicknesses, tints, and options for full, half, and foldable UTV windshields. In addition, many of their UTV windshields provide free shipping!