Large scratches require expertise and lots of labor to repair properly, but it can be done.
Consider the simple act of washing bugs off a windshield.
I’ve witnessed countless aircraft owners spraying household
furniture polish on as a cleaner and rubbing the bugs and
grime with a rag until the windshield is clear. The damage
they’re causing every time they go through this procedure
is cumulative and will inevitably lead to early replacement
of the windshield.
The first mistake is starting the cleaning process with any
chemicals at all. Spray the windshield with lots of water and
let it flush the contaminants from the surface. The goal is
to remove as much dirt and bug residue as possible without
touching the surface of the plastic. Allow the water to soak
in to any remaining bugs and other spots before using your
bare hand to lightly rub off any remaining dirt (be sure to
remove any rings or other jewelry first). Dry the surface with
a soft, clean cloth. Finally, use a cleaner or a polish specifically designed for use on aircraft windows. Using non-avia-tion products on aircraft plastic is a needless risk. Although
it’s commonly used, aerosol furniture polish can contain
chemicals that are harmful to aircraft plastics. Furniture polishes can also build up and produce smears on windows and
windshields that are hard to remove. They were simply not
developed for use outdoors and on plastic surfaces.
Aviation-specific products are available for both cleaning
and polishing plastic windows and windshields. The simplest ones consist of only acrylic-safe cleaners and anti-static
compounds. Examples of these types of cleaners are Novus
No. 1 Plastic Clean and Shine and Aviation Laboratories’
Aircraft Glass Cleaner. Following the simple water-cleaning
procedure detailed above, these cleaners can be applied to
help remove any residue.
In addition to cleaners, there are combination cleaner/pol-ishes and straight polishes. Many of these products also con-
tain sealers and UV protectants specifically designed for plastics. These are generally non-abrasive products that contain
special compounds that “fill” very small scratches. AeroShell
Flight Jacket Plexicoat, LP Aero Plastics’ Acrylic Polish and
Sealant, Aviation Laboratories’ Clear View, and “210” Plastic
Cleaner and Polish are examples of these types of products.
The type of polishing cloth you use makes a big difference. The ideal cloth is nonabrasive, absorbent, and lint-free. AeroShell’s Flight Jacket line of products includes both
anti-static pads and microfiber cloths that do an excellent
job. However, you should be extremely careful when using
any type of reusable cloth, since it can retain abrasive particles from previous uses. If you are not entirely sure the cloth
Solvents such as MEK or any cleaners containing ammonia can ruin
your windshield and windows in an instant.