How To Clean A UTV Windshield On And Off The Trail

Navigating a UTV through all the twists and turns on a trail can be fun but there will be those times when you need to protect yourself from limbs, dirt, and debris and the best way to do that is by installing a windshield on your UTV, unless it already comes stock with one. Several UTVs come with a windshield to protect the riders and many that don’t offer aftermarket options for almost any make or model. If you have a windshield installed you are definitely going to have to clean it at some point and there are some do’s and don’ts that come with cleaning the different types of windshield material.

A clean windshield essential when riding in a UTV. You want to rinse the windshield thoroughly to remove dirt and mud. Use a soft cloth and warm water with a gentle soap. Rinse all the soap off with clean water and then blot dry to prevent water spots.

It may seem like a meaningless task to make sure you clean your windshield the correct way but cleaning one improperly will cause more damage than riding on the trails and having rocks, dirt, and branches hitting it. It is crucial that you follow these steps or it will cost you money and time in the long run. Just like everything else on your vehicles, proper maintenance and care is the key to keeping your parts lasting a longer time.

What Are UTV Windshields Made Of?

Windshields are made out of 3 main types of materials. Each has its pros and cons and ultimately any material type that you pick will protect you, but deciding what material is best for your application is up to you. Make sure you do the research and are ready to properly maintain it. I will give you the do’s and don’ts of cleaning in just a bit so you can knock that portion out of the way. Let’s dive into what each type of material is and what they are good at.


Glass is common in most of our cars and trucks on the road and everyone knows what a glass windshield does. This material is the weakest of the 3 material types and when traversing bumpy terrain or smashing into tree limbs at higher speeds, this is glass, and it will crack or break.

Glass is much easier to clean and resists scratching so it does not really require any special considerations when it comes to how you clean it. You can rinse it with water and wash it down with any kind of cloth. Dry it and take it out for a spin and you are good to go.


Plexiglass and Lucite are commonly used for UTV windshields and are well known names that are the most recognizable terms and brands used in on UTVs. Acrylic is middle of the road as far durability and scratch resistance but if you want the best strength and durability then you might want to check out polycarbonate windshields.


There are a few different names for polycarbonate like Lexan and a few others but Lexan is more common for use in UTV windshields. Polycarbonate is the strongest of the 3 materials and can withstand much more stress than the others so much so that drive up teller windows are equipped with bullet resistant poly carb windows.

Polycarbonate is very susceptible to scratching which is why it is imperative that it is cleaned the correct way to prevent damage. Some types of polycarbonate windshield have special coatings on them that make them more scratch resistant than without and makes this a better overall choice for your UTV windshield.

Cleaning Your Windshield

Proper windshield cleaning is a must if you want to ensure a long life for your windshield. Your windshield makes it so you are protected from almost anything that may fly up at you and also, a clean windshield means you CAN SEE better. Lets face it, if you can’t see where you are going because you have all kinds of mud on the windshield or there are too many scratches from improper cleaning, it will make for a tough time trying to see where you are going.

Rinse Off The Windshield

The first step is to make sure that you thoroughly rinse off your windshield when you get it ready to clean up. TYou need to rinse it as best as you can so you can get any caked up mud and dirt off of the windshield itself and in the corners. Rubbing dirt all over your windshield will only make the gritty sand underneath scratch the windshield up and damaging it.

Use A Light Detergent Soap And A Soft Cloth

You always want to wash your windshield to clean off any residue that is left behind from the mud, dirt, and debris that has slapped up against it. When washing your poly carb windshield, make sure you use a light detergent like dish soap, baby shampoo, or even hand soap to get it clean without damaging it. Using other harsh abrasives or chemicals can mess with the windshield and tarnish it.

Use a damp cloth with warm water and soap to wash down the windshield, always going in a side to side motion, pushing the dirt away to each side. This will prevent any dirt grit from being wiped over and over again, scratching your windshield.

Make sure to use a soft, lint free cloth to wash and make sure it is clean, but using a new cloth would be a better practice. Lint from a cloth can stick on the windshield and trap small particles that can scratch the surface of the poly carb and then you have defeated the purpose of trying to clean it the right way. If you see any particles getting in your water, make sure to refill with a new mixture of clean water and detergent to minimize the reintroduction of dirt or particles that can scratch the windshield.

Novus also makes a great cleaner that many UTVers recommend that is especially made for polycarbonate windshields. You check it out right here on Amazon if you want a good cleaner that isn’t just soap and water.

Rinse Off All The Soap

Take a water hose or a bucket of clean water and rinse off the windshield as thoroughly as possible to wash away all the soap and any leftover grit or dirt. This is just another step in making sure to remove every bit of possible damage that you can before you dry off your windshield.

Dry Your Windshield The Right Way

It is crucial that you never use a dry cloth, or your hand, to wipe a piece of polycarbonate after you get finished washing it. Using a dry cloth to clean your polycarbonate will rub the dirt and dust into your polycarbonate windshield which will scratch and cause damage to it. This is the same reason that car washes use damp towels instead of dry ones for drying cars because it helps to minimize or eliminate unnecessary scratches.

You want to avoid wiping in circles and wipe in a straight line. Try to flip the cloth to a clean section every time you wipe so there are no trapped particles in your cloth from the previous pass. 

Direct Exposure to Sunlight Damages Polycarbonate

Over time, ultraviolet rays from the sun will cause damage to your polycarbonate windshields. While Plexiglas may not be damaged by the sun, polycarbonate windshields will be damaged. Most standard polycarbonate will last about 5-7 years before they start to become hazy and discolored from direct sunlight exposure. 

Unless you have a windshield that has been treated with an ultraviolet protective coating then the best practice is to keep it out of direct sunlight when storing it between rides. Be sure to cover your UTV if you don’t have a nice shaded place to store it. Performing these small steps can almost double the life of any UTV windshield and all it takes is a little time and effort to do the job right.

Things You Shouldn’t Do When Cleaning Your UTV Windshield

When cleaning your windshield there are a few things that you can do the right way that will make all the difference in the world but there are SO many more things that you can do wrong to completely mess up your windshield. Here are the DON’TS of cleaning your UTV windshield.

  • Don’t use cleaners that contain ammonia (such as Windex or 409) on your windshield. Ammonia is abrasive to polycarbonate. 
  • Don’t use solvents such as gasoline, denatured alcohol or acetone.
  • Don’t use toothpaste, abrasive cleaners, or alkaline cleaners on your windshield.
  • Don’t clean your windshield while it is dry. Use a damp cloth or rinse it with water first.
  • Don’t use rain repellents such as RainX.
  • Don’t scrub your windshield with brushes, steel wool, or other abrasive materials.
  • Don’t use squeegees, razor blades or other sharp instruments to remove any debris or try to scratch out any deposits or spots.
  • Don’t apply cleaners under direct sunlight or when temperatures outside are very high.
  • Don’t wipe your windshield in a circular motion. Always wipe your windshield from side to side.
  • Don’t use a dry cloth, or your hands, to wipe off windshield or you will end up scratching your windshield.
  • Don’t use abrasive pads or gritty cloths on your windshield.
  • Don’t scrub hard or use brushes on your windshield.

Cleaning Your Windshield On The Trail (Made Easy)

The easiest way to clean your UTV windshield while on the trail is to carry a good sized squirt bottle with a mild detergent solution and water mixed together. Bring along several clean, lint free rags and a jug of clean water. 

Just rinse the windshield with the water and squirt the solution on the windshield. Wipe side to side and use the remaining water to rinse the windshield off. Be sure to use some of the rinse water to dampen a couple rags to wipe off the water after you give it the final rinse. Dry off the windshield with the damp cloth and get back on the trail. It’s as simple as that!

Make sure you follow all the steps above to clean your windshield properly and avoid scratches. No one wants to have to replace a windshield prematurely because they didn’t want to take care of it properly the first time around.