Caring for Your Wiper Blades

The wiper blades on your car have a lot to contend with when it comes to the weather and general debris from the road. It’s important that you’re able to take care of your wiper blades effectively, both to maximise their longevity and to keep you safe at the wheel.

From cleaning your windscreen to boosting visibility in a downpour, your wiper blades work hard all year round. Exposed to day-to-day wear and tear, they can easily become worn, affecting visibility in a range of conditions. What’s more, wiper blades need to work correctly and efficiently for your car to pass its MOT.

So, if you’re looking for the best ways to take care of your windscreen wipers, we’ve put together some handy information to help.

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How to Clean Windscreen Wipers

Keeping your wiper blades clean is an important part of making sure they go the distance, instead of having to replace them more frequently than you need to. If your windscreen wipers aren’t clearing away rain, sleet or dirt as effectively as they used to, they may need a good clean. Fortunately, it’s very simple to keep your windscreen wipers free from dirt and grime.

To avoid the build-up of general dirt and road debris, you should consider cleaning your wiper blades regularly, just as you would with the rest of your car. This can be useful if you drive frequently or if your vehicle is parked somewhere that may be prone to dirt, debris and deposits, like falling leaves, bird droppings and tree sap.

What Should You use to Clean Wiper Blades?

When it comes to cleaning your wiper blades, it’s as easy as soapy water and a rag or sponge. Remember to lift the wiper arms up and away from the windscreen first and lock them into position if you can. If not, you can simply hold them in place. 

Use the soapy water and rag or sponge to glide up and down the wiper blade to clean off any dirt. It’s important to remember that the rubber can be delicate, so avoid pulling it or rubbing too hard.

You should also consider cleaning the other parts of the wiper arm, not just the blade. You can use soapy water to clear away dirt and debris from the wiper arm itself, as well as the mechanism. 

When you’re confident that there’s no dirt or grime left, it can be helpful to use surgical spirit or rubbing alcohol to finish off the edges. This can ensure all edges are clean and free from soap residue.

Keeping Your Windscreen Clean

To avoid premature build-up of dirt that could wear out your wiper blades quickly, you should take the time to ensure the windscreen is kept clean. This can prevent additional dirt that may contribute to worn-out wiper blades.

So, the next time you wash your car or drive down a dusty road, pay a little more attention to your windscreen.

Taking Care of Wiper Blades in Winter

In particular, wiper blades can become damaged during the cold winter months. This is because they can often stick to a frozen windscreen and if you don’t realise, you could end up breaking or damaging the blades or the wiper arm itself.

If it’s a little frosty or icy outside, be sure to fully defrost your windscreen before using your wiper blades. You can do this by turning on the engine and switching on the warm air while you scrape off any ice. Remember not to use hot water, or you run the risk of cracking the windscreen.

If your vehicle is going to be parked up and unused for a few days or weeks, consider repositioning your wiper arms away from the windscreen. This can avoid the blades getting stuck on the glass.

Recognising When to Replace Wiper Blades

If your wiper blades are worn or damaged, it’s important to replace them with new ones. This is because having wiper blades that aren’t working to their full potential could be dangerous, as it can hinder your visibility and the ability to clean your windscreen while driving. Your car may also fail its MOT if the wipers are unable to clear your windscreen efficiently.

Most wiper blades will last between six months to a year, depending on factors such as usage and the environment you drive in. There are some tell-tale signs that your wiper blades need replacing sooner rather than later, which can be helpful to look out for if you’re not sure.

Squeaking Wiper Blades

In some cases, your wiper blades may start to squeak every time they clear the windscreen. As well as making an annoying squeaking sound on rainy days, it can lead to longer term damage too. Luckily, there are a few ways to remedy this. Looking to know how to stop wiper blades squeaking? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know below.

Why Are My Wiper Blades Squeaking?

Incessantly squeaking wiper blades can be caused by a number of different things. Usually, it’s because the wiper blades themselves, their arms or hinges are clogged with dirt and grime, causing them to stiffen up and emit that irritating squeaking noise. If this is the case, you may be running low on washer fluid, or your wipers are on a setting that’s ill-equipped for the weather. 

How to Stop Wiper Blades Squeaking

First things first, try removing any build-up from your wiper blades. To do this, pull the wipers up and lock them into place, then gently wipe over the blade, arm and hinges with hot, soapy water to clear away any debris. After this, clean up the edge of the wiper blade with surgical spirit to get rid of any soapy residue on the rubber which could cause smearing. 

Since stiff rubber can also cause squeaking, you can also try softening your wipers. Whether they’re old or new, try gently buffing them with a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol to soften them up. 

Check if Wiper Blades Are Too Tight

If the above doesn’t help to stop the squeaking, then it may be an issue of tightness. If your blades stay vertical or seem to dig in when moving across the windscreen, then they’re probably too tight. To counteract this, gently twist the blade so it doesn’t sit vertically and is loose enough to move freely. It’s important to be gentle here: twisting too harshly could cause you to accidentally break the arm.

Replacing the Blade

If none of these tips help, then your wiper blades probably need replacing. If the rubber of the blade has become brittle and worn down, then it won’t move across your windscreen like it should. Replacing them with new blades will more than likely sort the issue out. 

Streaking or Smearing Wiper Blades

If you notice your wiper blades are leaving streaks or smears across your windscreen, instead of clearing it completely, it’s likely that the blades are too worn. Streaking across the windscreen is annoying when you’re behind the wheel, but it’s also dangerous too. It may also be worth checking the quality of the washer fluid and the condition of your windscreen.

What Causes Wiper Blade Smearing?

There’s a few different culprits when it comes to what causes smearing wipers. Any dirt on the windscreen is going to create smears on your windscreen, but the blades themselves might also be clogged with grime themselves. It might also be the case that your washer fluid isn’t doing its job - or it may just be that your blades just need replacing outright. 

Whatever the issue is, we’ll look at how to solve these issues below.

How to Stop Wiper Blades Smearing

A simple fix, and one you should try carrying out before anything else. If your wipers are struggling to cut through the dirt on your windscreen, clean it with hot, soapy water and rinse with clean water to get rid of any residue. If that doesn’t do the trick, move on to the next tip.

Clean Your Wiper Blades

To give your wipers a once over, pull them back and lock them into place so you have easy cleaning access. Next, gently wipe them with a rag dipped in hot, soapy water to remove any build-up, before wiping over the edge of the blade with surgical spirit. Still smearing after that? Try the next tip.

Try a Different Wiper Fluid

With so many different brands of wiper fluid, all of varying quality, it may be that the one you use simply doesn’t do the job - even if your wiper blades and windscreen are spick and span. 

Try swapping out the wiper fluid for a different brand. Try scoping out a few reviews so you know which will be the most suitable for your vehicle, too. You may have to try a few different brands before you happen upon the one that works best.

If You Need New Wiper Blades

None of the above worked for you? You probably need to replace your wiper blades. Try checking your wiper blades. Is the rubber cracked, brittle or worn down? Sounds like it’s time for a change. 

Juddering Wiper Blades

If the wiper blades appear to be juddering or skipping across the windscreen, it could be that the rubber has worn down too much, hindering them from gliding smoothly. In some cases, if your car hasn’t been used in a while, it may be that the blade has come out of shape. This can be more common in hot weather. Left unresolved, this could damage your wiper blades and windscreen in the long term. 

What Causes Juddering Wiper Blades?

Juddering is usually caused by issues with the windshield glass or the wiper blades themselves. Stickiness, dirt or damage to either of these tends to result in juddering. 

Below, we’ll run through a couple of helpful hints to get your blades working as good as new once again.

How to Stop Juddering Wiper Blades

A quick fix that could well sort the issue, removing dirt and grease from your windscreen is perhaps the easiest way to prevent juddering wiper blades. A bucket of hot, soapy water and a sponge or rag will take care of this for you. Just be sure to pull up the wipers first to clean along the blade, before washing the rest of the screen - otherwise you’ll end up making your job twice as long.

Clean the Windscreen With a Strong Glass Cleaner

For best results after the above, it’s well worth investing in a quality glass cleaner. Apply the cleaner and scrub in small, circular motions with a damp rag or microfibre cloth to get rid of any remaining oil or grease. Keeping your wiper fluid topped up can also take care of any smears when you’re on the road too. 

Check the Condition of Your Wiper Blades

How do your wiper blades look? If there are any splits in the blade, or they’re leaving streaks, then you should definitely get them replaced, especially if it’s been longer than 12 months since the last time you changed them. 

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