Daniel DiManna
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Windshield vs. Hand Sanitizer: A Cautionary Tale

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Keep this stuff away from your windshield. You’ll thank me later…
Photo: Pixabay via CC

Have you ever done something of questionable rationality in order to give your vehicle a quick fix? Something that you hoped would work but, deep down inside, you knew would likely backfire? Chances are, if you’ve ever owned a vehicle, you’ve found yourself in this situation. This is the story of how I, a humble editor for The News Wheel, sought the quick, cheap, and easy path to windshield cleanliness… and failed miserably.

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Windshield vs. hand sanitizer: the backstory

I am a long-time driver and car owner who prioritizes vehicle cleanliness. There’s nothing quite like the shine and good smell of a well-kept car. Unfortunately, as ashamed as I am to admit it, this last year — most of which has been spent bunkered in my apartment — has taken its toll on my car-cleaning habits. After nearly 10 months of little driving and plenty of distraction, my poor vehicle was a hot mess. Most notably, the interior of the windshield was smudged, dirty, and distractingly gross.

The smart thing to do would’ve been to simply slap on my mask and purchase some window cleaner at my local grocery store. But for reasons that I cannot fathom, this was not the course I took.

One day in October, I jumped into my little sedan and prepared for my weekly grocery run. For whatever reason, the grossness of my windshield seemed particularly discouraging that day. I decided, right there on the spot, that enough was enough. Perhaps I was impatient, perhaps I’d woken up with an extra helping of hubris, but I resolved that my windshield had seen its last dirty day.

Mistakes were made

Like any responsible driver this year, I happened to have a bottle of hand sanitizer in my car’s glove box. This well-worn bottle still had plenty of germ-killing, alcohol-filled goo inside of it, and the wheels in my mind began to turn. Surely, I thought, a generous layer of this amazing substance would do wonders for my windshield.

And so, resolute in my decision, I applied a couple of sanitizer globs to a cloth and began applying it to the glass. The initial results were good, as each and every unsavory stain was soon scrubbed away. Within a few minutes, my windshield was absolutely spotless. With a deep sigh of relief, I started my engine and departed. My problem had been solved.

But alas, this was not the case.

The following day, I once again boarded my vehicle. What I saw when I looked through my windshield was, frankly, quite shocking. Where once there had been crystal clarity, there were now thick streaky smudges. It looked for all the world as if I had wiped the glass down with a mud-soaked rag.

As it turns out, I hadn’t removed the grossness from my windshield at all. I’d only spread it. In other words, I’d made it sizably worse. Like Icarus of myth, I’d flown too close to the proverbial sun and, perhaps inevitably, crashed and burned.

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If there is a moral to be taken from this tale of alcohol-based hubris, it’s this: a good old-fashioned bottle of Windex is well worth your hard-earned cash.