Tinted windows can be attractive, provide a little extra privacy, and help protect you and your car’s interior from damaging UV rays. But sometimes the window tint isn’t applied correctly or it’s just become a bit worn or ragged. If you notice bubbling or peeling corners, it’s time to replace the film. Discoloration is another sign that your window tint needs replacing. If you are looking to learn how to remove window tint, this isn’t as hard as you may think.

Also, some states have differing laws on the level of tinting allowed and it may vary depending on whether you are talking about the front windows, rear windows, or side windows. So if you move from a state with less restrictive regulations to a stricter one, you may need to remove your car window tinting, and possibly replace it with something less dark. 

For instance, in Texas, you can have 25% tinting on your front and side windows, and any amount on your rear window. However, in Alabama, the level is 32% for all windows. Some states restrict the colors that are legal for window tinting. Other laws may bar you from having a reflective or mirrored finishes in the window tint. Knowing your local laws is important, so check up-to-date guidelines on Garage Chief.

If you want to go back to the original clear glass or want to reapply it or replace it with a different level or type of window tint, you need to remove the old tint beforehand.

By doing it yourself, you can save yourself money. Professional removal can be as little as $25 a window, which may be worthwhile to you to save yourself the trouble. However, the supplies you need to do it yourself you likely have on hand. But some places can charge as much as $400 for the entire car. In that case, you are probably better off just taking an hour or two and handling the job yourself.

Preparation and tools

There are a few different methods for removing window tint, but they are all pretty similar and take minimal tools to accomplish the job. As with any do-it-yourself type task, you want to thoroughly read the directions before starting, and make certain you’ve gathered all needed materials. 

When using a razor be certain it’s stainless steel, as this is less likely to scratch your glass. Begin by cleaning your windows first with window cleaner. Also, start with a small section to get a sense of how easily, or not, the process will be. With proper prep work, it may take less than an hour. 

The Simple Soap and Scrape Technique

The most straightforward method that requires the fewest tools is the soap and scrape method. To do this, begin at a corner and using a knife or razor blade, lift a corner. Then grasp and pull away, going in a diagonal direction. If the tinting is very old, it may be stubborn from the sun baking to the window surface. 

Once you’ve pulled the film off by hand the best you can, prepare a soapy mixture of dish soap and water. Make it comparable to the ratio of soap and water for dishwashing. It’s best to use a spray bottle for this. Spray the leftover adhesive or film sections then use a razor blade to scrape the residue from the window. Keep the area moist for best results, best done by working in small sections at a time.

Soap and Newspaper Method

This method is nearly identical to the soap and scrape method, except that you spray your soapy mixture onto the film or leftover adhesive, and then cover the windows with old newspapers. You will re-spray about every 20 minutes. After an hour or so, you can begin to peel the newspaper and film. If any window tint film remains, repeat the process.

Ammonia or Vinegar and Trashbag Method

The sun will do much of your work for you in this method. Just make certain you have the car in sunlight and protect the car’s interior with a tarp or a similar covering.

For this method, you will take a spray bottle of soapy water and spray the outside of your window, then apply sections of black trash bags cut to fit your window. The soap will make the trashbag stick to the surface. On the inside, you will spray ammonia or vinegar, then place a cut section of a black trash bag over that.  Let the sun work with the solution to break down the adhesive of the window tint.  

Wait an hour or so, then scrape with a razor blade. Scrub any residue off that remains.

Hairdryer or Steamer Method

Heat is a great way to coax the tint adhesive off of your window. Using either a hairdryer or a handheld clothes steamer, you point the dryer/steamer at the corner you are starting with and pull as you go. Keep the steamer or hairdryer about 2 inches from the window tint surface. Working little by little with the heat and your pulling, you will get the window tint removed. Once finished, clean off with window cleaner.

Chemical Methods

If your window tint is really baked on, or stubborn you may try a specific product made for the job. One such product is called Tint Off. You can also find wider scrapers made for this purpose. Just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area, and protect your car’s interior and paint. Also, take special care around defroster lines. You don’t want to disturb or cut into those.

With a little time and elbow grease, you can save yourself some money, improve your car’s appearance and have the satisfaction of a job well done.