Can You Use Windex On Plastic? Helpful Tips

Windex on plastic

There are reports that using Windex on plastics can make them cloudy or break them.

Is that really the case? Is Windex safe to use on plastic and acrylics?

Let’s find out.

Can Windex clean plastic? 

Yes, Windex cleaners that do not contain ammonia are safe for use on plastic and vinyl surfaces.

These are products specially made to clean such surfaces. 

Windex cleaners that have ammonia should not be used for cleaning plastic surfaces, though. 

Ammonia can be hard on plastics, especially acrylic, and can cause a phenomenon called crazing – that is a streak of fine cracks that weaken the surface.

Ammonia-free Windex can clean plastic surfaces without causing any damage. 

Here are a few Windex cleaners that are safe for plastic, acrylic, and vinyl surfaces:

  • Windex Vinegar Glass Cleaner
  • Multi-Surface Cleaner Lavender
  • Disinfectant Cleaner Multi-Surface
  • Outdoor Spray
  • Ammonia Free Glass Cleaner

Can Windex damage plastic? 

Windex cleaners that contain ammonia can cause abrasions or corrode plastic surfaces.

Ammonia in Windex reacts with the plastic and can make it soft, by weakening its internal structure – a process called crazing.

This applies to Plexiglas (which is a form of acrylic glass), other acrylic products, and polycarbonate as well.

These are different varieties of plastic that are stronger, stiffer, or thinner. They have properties that cannot be found in standard plastic.

Whether you use different types of plastic materials or just basic everyday plastic, they are both prone to damage by Ammonia-based Windex.

Ammonia in Windex cleaners not only makes it squidgy and shapeless, but it can also react with the plastic and cause discoloration such as yellowing or color bleeding, etc. 

Ammonia also clouds up the surface of plastics, especially thinner ones such as those used in glasses and contact lenses.

It creates fogginess and smudges, which may last a while on plastic LED AND LCD components of electronics. These include televisions, smartphones, laptops, and also electrical fixtures like LED light bulbs, etc. 

Besides ammonia, Windex also contains acetone, a type of alcohol. This can also damage plastic surfaces.

Acetone’s exposure to plastic may bring different reactions depending on the type of plastic used.

Some plastics dissolve in ammonia, while others may show residues. In other cases, the plastic surface may soften up, or get stiffer.

But to be honest, a lot of such reactions only happen if the concentration of acetone is very high. So, Windex shouldn’t trigger such reactions in most instances.

Can Windex stain plastic? 

Yes, Windex “can” stain plastic depending on the type of plastic. It is again due to the presence of ammonia and acetone in the solution.

These chemicals can cause discoloration on plastic lenses, windshields, and other thin varieties of plastic. It dissolves the colorants and binds chemicals on the plastic. They can also make the plastic soft. 

If used on the screens of electronics, Windex can leave smudges as well. It also leaves streaks on car glass in certain types of vehicles. 

On the other hand, Windex can also remove smears and fogginess from other types of plastic. These could include harder, more resistant types of plastic like helmet shields or headlights that do not corrode easily. 

So, if you are working on lighter plastics, it’s a good idea to use ammonia-free varieties of Windex since they would protect them from scraping and staining.

Can you use Windex on plastic windows? 

Windex may not be the best solution to clean plastic windows. You may use water and vinegar solution for this.

Ammonia and alcohol can be quite strong and it could leave streaks on your window and leave them foggy. 

A high concentration of Windex may even warp the plastic, damaging it permanently.

For such plastic surfaces, a gentler cleaner is required. Soap or vinegar solution could do the trick.

Of course, ammonia-free Windex is a good option, but you still leave things to chance due to the presence of alcohol.

Is Windex safe on plastic? 

The ammonia-free versions of Windex can safely be used on most plastic surfaces and items. 

Make sure you only use the required amount since there are also other chemicals, including acetone in Windex that can still affect plastic if used in very high concentrations.



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Anand Srinivasan
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