Before and after photo of a windscreen after a plastic “polish.”
“Some bugs actually etch, and you’ll need a cleaner (like
Meguiar’s PlastX, he noted) to get that out.” Work it in with
a foam applicator pad and elbow grease and wipe it off. It
contains “diminishing abrasives,” abrasives that break down
as you use them. The grit size gets smaller during polishing,
giving good cut at the beginning and finer polishing action
maybe two minutes later. Stop, wipe it up, and repeat. “The
more fresh applications—the more elbow grease, the better.”
All of the experts said to use plenty of polishing pressure.
When washing the aircraft, Tim suggested not using
detergents, just a pH-balanced automotive wash. “They’re
mild, yet they do a good job on dirt and grime.”
Coming from the automotive products industry, Tim
noted that you can save money by washing your towels (the
deeper the nap, the better), but don’t use fabric softeners or
dryer sheets. These can fill the towels with fragrances, etc.,
reducing absorbency and porosity.
If your windscreen is severely oxidized, Tim noted you
may want to use Meguiar’s Fine-Cut Cleaner. “This leaves
a haze; then use PlastX. It’s not permanent; you’ll have to
do it every few months.” Either way, “Fix it as soon as you
notice it; if you let it get bad, it can be a lot more trouble.”
Learn more at www.Meguiars.com.
Do’s and Don’ts
• Spot-clean or spot-polish a windscreen.
• Use a dry towel or rag to “whisk away” dust, etc.
• Use powdered detergents or harsh soaps.
• Put your hand on the windscreen. In addition to the scratch
hazard, this may actually etch the plastic.
• Put your stuff (books, charts) on the dash—you may scratch the
inside of the windscreen.
• Use paper towels, shop rags, or even washed cloths or microfiber
rags on a windscreen.
• Scrape or rub a windscreen, regardless of the tool you use.
• Use hair dryers or heat guns to clear frost or ice from your
windscreen. Short of melting it, the application of concentrated
heat can distort or craze the plastic. You may not immediately
notice the distortion, but your brain will try to fix it subconsciously,
leading to a post-flight headache.
• Use things like ammonia, Windex, Pledge—things that are made
for glass aren’t necessarily made for plastic, and usually don’t
Peter Hoyt, CEO of Black Lab Corp., which makes and
bottles All Kleer, noted that it “leaves a slick, anti-static
surface and masks fine scratches.” Piper uses All Kleer on
all the windscreens on its new planes. It’s been used by FBI
surveillance teams and on military jet canopies, too. Water-based All Kleer “is not a permanent filler; it’s meant for
everyday cleaning, and its slippery surface makes routine
cleaning easier, too. It’s an effective rain-dispersal agent
(once per rainstorm); bugs come off more easily, and fog
is reduced,” Peter said. Find more information at www.
Christy Hiller, vice president at Plastek LLC, pointed out
that all abrasives are not equal. “For actual repair, you need a
product that removes the high points around the scratches,
not just temporarily fills them,” she said. “EZClear products
restore clarity to 99. 7 percent. That’s better than your eyes
can detect. But polish the entire window, so you don’t
distort the view.”
Plastek’s two-step process works on damage from heavy
hazing to just about anything that won’t require a panel
replacement, and its kit lets owners of experimentals do their
own work. For about $100, using the proper polisher (don’t
even try to use typical drill motors, air tools, or battery-powered polishers as they are underpowered), “You can
redo the whole windscreen in 20-30 minutes.” (Typically,
newbies are comfortable with polishing after 15 minutes of
practice. Practice first!) “If you do the whole window, you’ll
pretty much get it right,” Christy continued. “Just follow
the directions. It’s a forgiving process; check your work
frequently to be sure you’ve done enough polishing (and
not too much). Do a whole panel; concentrating on a single
spot can cause distortion or noticeable discoloration.”
How much compound you’ll need is a concern for first-timers. Plastek customers generally find that after they’ve
used about 2-1/2 to 3 ounces (of the supplied 3. 5 ounces),
• Use fabric softeners or dryer sheets if you must recycle your
• Use chemicals that aren’t manufacturer-approved. Some that
are never to touch your windscreen include the obvious ones
(gasoline, MEK, toluene, petroleum distillates, acetone, sulfuric
or nitric acid, methylene chloride) and some not-too-obvious, like
household glass cleaners.
• Keep the surfaces protected. The only thing worse than putting
a dusty cloth over your canopy is leaving it completely unprotected
in a dust storm. (If you’re not about to get sandblasted, though,
don’t put that dusty cover on! Go indoors.)
• Use only new, disposable microfiber cloths for routine cleaning.
• Use specially formulated products in the manner recommended
by the manufacturers.
• Remember that if the directions say to shake the juice, shake
it a lot. The abrasives and other compounds must be uniformly
distributed to provide consistent results.