Window tinting is one of the most common enhancements made to vehicles in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a different shade or your window tint has become worn, you may find yourself wondering how exactly to remove old window tint at some point. Can you just peel it right off yourself, or do you need a professional to take on the job? 

Today, we’ll be diving into everything you need to know about removing old or damaged window tint. But before we do that, let’s take a refresher course on what window tint is, exactly. 

Window tinting is a process that calls for a transparent sheet to be attached to the interior side of a vehicle’s windows. This sheet helps to reduce much of the heat and radiation that would otherwise penetrate the windows to make occupants uncomfortable. There are various materials that the sheeting can be made from and a number of shades of darkness that can be achieved, although some states regulate that. 

The protection afforded by the tinted sheet blocks most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, helping to limit skin damage during prolonged rides. The same protection is also afforded to the vehicle’s upholstery, meaning your seats are less likely to fade over time. Additionally, window tinting offers increased privacy and comfort, and since you won’t have to run your air conditioner as much, you’ll also get better gas mileage. 

There is even a safety aspect to tinting windows. In the event of an accident, the tinted sheet tends to inhibit glass from shattering in multiple directions, thereby avoiding injuries to some extent. 

How Does Window Tint Get Damaged?

Believe it or not, window tint can become damaged before it is ever even used. Improper installation can cause it to lose its effectiveness and be subject to all kinds of exterior effects that degrade it. 

For that reason, it is best to have a professional install the tinting on your car, truck, or SUV. When the film is appropriately measured, cut, and applied, it has a much better chance of withstanding the forces that will naturally operate against it. In addition, using high-quality tinting film is essential. A low-quality tinting job can doom your chances of having a long-lasting and attractive tint on your car’s windows.

Some tinting film is of lower quality and will be subject to scratches and tears, and from there, it’s only a matter of time before those become large tears. Soon, rips begin appearing in the film, and you’re left with an unattractive mess. 

Hopefully, you worked with a trusted professional like the team at Inspector’s Auto Appearance in Flagstaff, AZ. Still, even if you start out with a high-quality window tinting job, the adhesive that secures it to windows will eventually wear out, causing the film to separate from the windows. So if you’ve had your tinting in place for a while, it might be a good idea to have a professional re-apply it or install new tinting altogether before it begins to deteriorate.

How to Remove Old Window Tint

When removing old window tinting, you’ll need to keep safety in mind and equip yourself with a good pair of mechanic gloves and some safety glasses. Then, you’ll need to prepare all the materials you’ll need for the process:

  • Garbage bags
  • Garbage container
  • Razor blade scraper or a window tint removal set
  • Soap and water steamer 
  • Hairdryer or heat gun 
  • Microfiber towel
  • Window cleaner
  • Tarps
  • Extension cord

Keep in mind that you may not need ALL of the above materials because there are several ways to detach old window tinting, and the materials you need will depend on the method you choose. 

So, for instance, you may not need both a heat gun and a soap and water steamer; you’d need one or the other. So the three methods for removing window tint are:

  • Using a steamer
  • Using a hairdryer or heat gun
  • Using soap and water

To remove window tint using the steamer method: 

  • Roll down a window slightly, and hold the steamer there at the edge so the adhesive will begin to dissolve.
  • Steam the whole inside of the window like this.
  • Use the razor blade to carefully lift the edges of the tinting away from the window.
  • Once the edges have been separated, use your hands to remove the rest.

Using the hairdryer method:

  • Roll the window down slightly, as with the steamer method.
  • Run the hair dryer on its highest setting so you can lift one edge of the tinting.
  • Continue to run the hairdryer over the entire surface of the tinting, peeling as you go.

Using the/soap and water method:

  • Tape garbage bags or tarps to your car’s interior to protect it.
  • Cut black garbage bags to the exact shape of your car’s windows, and spray them with water so they adhere to the windows.
  • Spray soap and water on the car windows and apply the garbage bags over the top of the spray
  • After an hour or two, the hot soap and water should have loosened the adhesive so you can pull the tinting off.
  • Use a razor blade to separate an edge of the tinting, then peel the rest away by hand.

How to Keep Window Tint Looking New

First of all, you should ensure that your window tint has had enough time to cure in place, and in warm weather, that should take two to four days. It could take as long as several weeks in colder weather, but it’s important that you allow this time for curing.

You should also avoid cleaning the windows for at least a month after the tinting has been installed so you don’t damage the tinting. Once that time has passed, you’ll be able to safely clean your window tint with soap and water or with a non-ammonia glass cleaner.

Anything containing ammonia will act as a corrosive on your tinting and could damage or destroy it altogether. During ordinary usage, make sure to avoid scratching the surface of your tint, especially with keys or other sharp objects, because even one scratch can develop into a significant tear that requires re-application. A little care and caution around your window tinting will help to preserve its lifespan considerably.


Window tinting can provide many benefits to any vehicle owner who installs it. Primarily, it will deflect much of the heat and ultraviolet radiation that commonly penetrates into a vehicle’s interior. 

It’s always best to leave the installation and removal to a professional, so you can be sure that it gets applied correctly and has the best chance for a long life on your car’s windows. By being cautious and careful with your window tinting, you can avoid damage and keep it looking like new for quite some time. 

If you ever do decide to remove the window tinting, there are several methods that can be used to remove it. Still, to avoid damage to your vehicle, it’s always preferable to have a trusted professional remove it for you. Here at Inspector’s Auto Appearance, we’ve been serving the Flagstaff, AZ community with automotive window tinting, window tint removal, and more for over three decades. You can learn more about our approach to window tinting over on our FAQ page, or, when you’re ready, reach out to our trusted team to schedule your service. 

When your window tint is properly installed and the maintenance practices outlined by your installer in your daily usage are followed, you’ll find that high-quality window tinting can last a long time and that you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of it for years to come.

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