Removing window film is probably the last thought to enter your mind when you’re having film installed. Over time, however, the adhesive bond holding the film in place will start to break down. As it begins to show signs of wear, you should realize that it won’t be long until the adhesive no longer holds, and you will need to come up with an effective way to remove it. In many cases, you can use an ammonia-based cleaner to dissolve any remaining adhesive and gently pull the film off of the window.
The best way to remove window film often depends on the type of window being treated. Some window films, particularly those used in store windows or other commercial applications, may have a special type of adhesive that requires a specialty removal spray. There is one process that is generally safe and effective for most windows, however, including windows in vehicles that may have defroster strips that shouldn’t be scratched or damaged.
The tools needed to remove the film are things you probably already have around the house. They include a razor or penknife, and you will also need ammonia or ammonia-based window cleaner. You will also need something to cover the vehicle interior or other surfaces below windows that are being treated to catch the drips of ammonia or cleaner as you work.
First, lift the corners of the window film gently. For this step, you will probably need the razor or penknife, but you can try lifting it with your fingers. Pull it slowly, pulling away as much as you can without tearing the film. Spray ammonia or cleaner on the uncovered area and work it under the film as much as you can. Try to pull more of the film away, and continue applying cleaner, working it in, and pulling.
To remove window film on windows that do not have obstructions such as defroster strips, you can also score, or cut several areas. Spray cleaner onto the entire window, working it into the scored areas with a clean, damp rag. Begin pulling at these areas as they begin free up. In this case, it doesn’t matter if the film comes off in strips instead of all in one piece.
Once the window film has been pulled off, make sure that all remaining adhesive residue is removed too. This can be accomplished by gently scouring the area with steel wool, taking care to work around defroster strips if they are present. Wipe with a clean, dampened cloth as you go. You can also try cleaning products designed to remove sticky substances and glues, or you can look for specialty products made to remove window film.