Can you use Windex on your face?
In this Article (Index)
The myth of Windex as a cure for skin ailments
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The 2002 romantic comedie movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" popularized the notion that window cleaners were an effective treatment for skin conditions. During the opening scenes, Toula Portokalos, played by actress Nia Vardalos, describes her father saying ""my father beleived... that any ailment - from psoriasis to poison ivy- could be cured with Windex."
Kostas Portokalos, played by talented performer Michael Constantine (1927-1921), always carried a bottle of Windex® around with him and extolled its benefits for rashes, a swollen toe, or a scratch.
The fixation that Constantine's character has with Windex just adds more comedy to the movie. His advice shouldn't be taken seriously. SC Johnson, the manufacturer of Windex has admitted that the line "Put some Windex on it!" and using it "as a 'cure-all' for everything from sore elbows to blemishes created some amusing moments from the... film."
Kostas Portokalos' fixation with Windex in the movie is a parody, used as for comedic effect and should not to be taken seriously.
Window Cleaners the chemistry and hazards
Glass cleaners are designed to be applied on a glass surface to loosen dirt, emulsify oil and grease and allow them wiped-off and removed without leaving any smears or streaking.
To do so, they are formulated with a cocktail of chemicals that act as detergents to remove dirt, and solvents that the glass to repel the emulsified oil and grease, makking it easier to wipe it off with a paper towel and reduce streaks.
They are water-based streaking to make them safer for household use. Roughly 90-98% of a glass cleaner is distilled water, the rest is a mix of hazardous chemicals.
However the resulting cleaning mixture, being diluted with water is not as hazardous as the pure ingredients. In fact SC Johnson's Safety Data Sheet for Windex® states it isn't dangerous ("This product does not contain hazardous chemicals at or above a reportable level as defined by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200") (10).
There are many formulations and ingredients differ from to one brand to another.
SC Johnson's website lists the igredients in Windex (2):
- 2-Hexoxyethanol, that acts as a surfactant and cleaning agent. A surfactant helps mix oils and water emulsifying them and forms bubbles and foam (like in detergents). It "causes severe skin burns and eye damage, is harmful if swallowed and is harmful in contact with skin... toxic in contact with skin." (3).
- Isopropanolamine. Is a dispersant, solvent and cleaning agent. Its vapor irritates eyes and nose. Liquid can cause local injury to skin and eyes. It is an acute toxic if ingested and skin corrosive (4).
- Sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate. Is a a detergent, an anionic surfactant (helps emulisfy, acts as a wetting agent, forms bubbles in household cleaners and soaps and removes grime). It is harmful if swallowed and causes skin irritation and serious⁄damaging eyer irritation (5).
- Lauramine oxide. Is another surfactant used, and also causes eye and skin irritation (6).
- Ammonium hydroxide, commonly known as Ammonia, with a characteristic smell. It is a cleaner and also adjusts the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of the cleaner. Ammonia can cause redness, pain, blisters on the skin and serious burns (7).
- Fragrance and colorant. They give the product its typical aroma and crystal blue color.
Some glass cleaners may contain the following ingredients
- Isopropyl alcohol (or isopropanol, IPA). 2.5 - 7%. It is a solvent and cleaning agent that is classified as an irritant especially for the eye (8).
- Ethanolamine (or monoethanolamine, MEA). 0.4%. It is a caustic solvent, and its risk assessment states that it is: "Harmful in contact with skin [Warning Acute toxicity, dermal]... Causes severe skin burns and eye damage" (12).
In general household cleaners do not require Safety Data Sheets, but if used in the industry they do. One brand's SDS (not Windex), used for industrial purposes is labelled as "corrosive for the skin" and in the event of skin contact recomments to "Wash off with soap and water. Get medical attention if irritation develops and persists" (9).
Window and glass cleaners contain hazardous chemicals that are diluted in water (roughly 90-95% water and the remaining 5-10% are the active chemicals).
Their low concentration reduces the hazards but these products should be kept away from the eyes, skin, and not ingested.
Can Windex be applied to the skin?
Can you treat Acne with Windex?
The answer to both questions is No
We strongly recommend that you do not apply any type or brand of glass cleaners on your skin.
They are specially formulated to remove grime from soiled glass, not for treating skin conditions.
Their strong cleaning agents, degreasing compounds and surfactants will damage the skin barrier. Lemery et al., (2015) (1) report that frequent exposure of skin to surfactants can damage the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, degreases the skin extracting epidermal fats and disrupting its barrier properties. This "can induce skin dryness and inflammation," exposing the skin to glass cleaners "can cause irritant effects" (11).
Avoid using Windex or any other glass cleaner on your skin or face it will cause irritation, inflammation and damage it.
Treat acne with regular pimple medication.
Patagonia Wellness, Austin Whittall and our fit-and-well.com websites do not endorse Windex® or its manufacturer SC Johnson. We receive no compensation for mentioning them in this article.
We do have some affiliate agreements and offer advertising on our website, but not with Windex or SC Johnson. Read more in our sections: Affiliate Disclosure and Advertisement Policy.
References and Further Reading
(1) Emmanuelle Lemery, Stéphanie Briancon, Yves Chevalier, Thierry Oddos, Annie Gohier, Olivier Boyron, Marie-Alexandrine Bolzinger, (2015). Surfactants have multi-fold effects on skin barrier function. European Journal of Dermatology. 2015;25(5):424-435. doi:10.1684/ejd.2015.2587
About this Article
Can you put Windex on your face?, A. Whittall
©2023 Fit-and-Well.com, 18 Aug. 2023. Update scheduled for 18 Aug. 2025. https://www.fit-and-well.com/wellness/can-you-put-windex-on-your-face.html
Tags: Glass cleaners use on skin, Windex for acne>a, risks of glass cleaners for the skin