Every UTV owner knows how difficult it is to keep their windshield clean while they are on the trail. Riders are constantly dealing with bugs, tree sap, mud, and watermarks. You know that it’s important to keep your windshield clean in order to see where you’re going but you want to make the cleaning as effective as possible.
So, just exactly how do you clean a UTV windshield on the trail?
The best way to clean a polycarbonate (lexan) or acrylic (lucite) UTV windshield on the trail is to first rinse off surface impurities on the windshield with a portable water sprayer. Next, spray a coat of cleaner on the remaining dirty areas, scrub the areas with a microfiber cloth and then rinse off again with the water sprayer.
In this post, we will go over some tips you need to know in order to keep your windshield clean and squeaky while you’re on your next adventure.
Use Lemon Pledge
By far, the most popular polycarbonate and acrylic UTV windshield cleaner is the Pledge Lemon Enhancing Polish Spray (a.K.a. Lemon Pledge). There are good reasons for this:
- It’s cheap and comes in a spray can.
- It doesn’t leave a waxy buildup.
- It won’t cloud the windshield.
- No alcohol or ammonia
- You can also use it on other areas of your UTV like the body and tires.
People have also tried other products like the Original Bike Spirits Spray Cleaner, Plexus Plastic Cleaner, and the Rain-X Plastic Treatment. However, the Lemon Pledge seems to work the best.
If you’re looking for something milder, you can try baby shampoo, hand-washing soap or dishwashing soap.
Remember that you have limited water with you while you’re on the trail so only apply the cleaner on the stuck-on impurities that you weren’t able to get off on the initial rinse.
Do not use cleaners like toothpaste, alkaline cleaners, Windex, rubbing alcohol, acetone, etc. These will damage your polycarbonate or acrylic windshield.
Use A Portable Water Sprayer
Some people might recommend you to use the hand pump garden sprayer, which gets the job done for small jobs (like cleaning off bird droppings). However, a more likely scenario is that you’ll be needing to clean off splashes of mud and dirt after hitting a deep puddle. As you can imagine, a garden sprayer just isn’t going to do the trick.
I recommend using a RiniseKit or similar Portable water sprayer. These devices will give you good water flow and pressure to get the job done quickly. Keep in mind that with these types of devices, you usually only have a few minutes of water flow but it should be enough to get you through tough situations. You can use it to clean off other areas of your ride as well.
Use Microfiber Cloths
The last thing you want to do is to scratch your windshield while cleaning it. It’s often a mistake that many people make as they try to get the job done quickly and continue their travel.
Some people recommend a squeegee for drying off the windshield. However, I find that this often leaves scratches on the surface. Instead, use a microfiber absorbent cloth.
Just remember to never use brushes, razor blades or other sharp instruments while cleaning. Simply scrubbing with a microfiber cloth in a circular motion is good enough.
Preparation Work is Key
One thing you can do before heading out on the trail is to prep your windshield with a clear plastic polish/wax. Once your windshield is prepped, mud and dirt have a harder time sticking to the surface. The polish will also help to remove some scratches on your windshield as well.
If you do the prep work, then all you need on the trail is some clean water to rinse the mud off.
Here’s how you would use the clear plastic polish before heading out:
- Clean your windshield
- Apply plastic polish to a microfibre cloth or electric buffer
- Rub the polish into your windshield, add more polish until you’ve covered all areas.
- Let sit for 5 – 10 mins and repeat steps 1-3 to add more layers of polish if required.
Try a Wiper System
Wiper systems are great if you don’t like to get out of your ride to clean the windshield all the time. If you will be riding in a lot of muddy puddles, then you may want to consider a wiper system.
Note that wiper blades may scratch your windshield, especially if it’s made of acrylic or uncoated polycarbonate. Hard coated polycarbonate is more resistant to scratches. However, no matter which type of material your windshield is made of, you’ll have to polish it from time to time if you use a wiper system.
Wiper systems come in the manual or powered options. Let’s look at each one in more details:
- Manual: These are hand-operated systems and you have to crank the attached handle each time to move the wiper. They usually come in 16” or 18” lengths and depending on the windshield you have, you may not need to drill any holes.
For some models, like the Honda Pioneer, all you have to do is remove the plugs on the stock UTV windshield and install the handle through the hole and screw it down.
Manual wiper systems are a good and cheap solution to quickly clean off any mud or dirt that may have splashed on the surface on your windshield. However, they don’t do a good job against “stuck on-mud” so in those cases, you’ll still need to get out of your ride and wipe with a windshield cleaner.
- Powered: Needless to say, these systems are similar to manual systems except they are operated by motors and have on-off switches. You can get some systems that come with washer tanks.
A company called National Cycle created a Wash ‘n’ Wipe system with preassembled wiper, motor, and windshield all in one package. The windshield is made of hard-coated polycarbonate which will not crack like glass. Their systems are available for most late-model BRP, Honda and Polaris vehicles. Check out the video below to see how their system works.