How to Clean Windows

Do you know how to wash windows the right way? You may be surprised to learn you're doing more harm than good. We'll show you our favorite tips for getting your windows sparkling clean. 

Compare a clean window with a dirty one, and it's a contrast that's nearly as startling as that between day and night. Streak- and grime-free windows offer a lovely way to enjoy the outdoors, as well as an uninterrupted path for sunshine to enter into your interior spaces. But many people avoid this task because they are unsure how to clean windows. Luckily, it takes just a bit of planning and a little elbow grease. Here are five must-follow steps for cleaning windows.

Test the Temperature

Don't want to waste a sunny day chasing away the dirt and grime on windows? You're not alone—and you're in luck. One of the best pieces of advice for how to clean windows is to pick a cloudy day. The absence of sunlight will help to minimize the chance of streaks. And heat makes window cleaning solution evaporate faster than you can wipe it off, leaving streaks. Lack of glaring sunlight also enables you to better see—and better clean—the windows. Rule of thumb? Touch the window glass. If it's hot to the touch, wait for a cooler day.

Vacuum Windows

No window washing job is complete without using your vacuum first. There's a lot of dust and dirt that can accumulate inside the sills of your windows, and once that gets wet you'll be left with muddy streaks to clean up. That's why an essential step cleaning windows properly is to hook up the vacuum first, using hose attachments to clean out the interior side of your windows. While you're at it, use the vacuum to suck up dust or bugs that have gathered at the window closing. 

How to Clean Outside Windows

There's one crucial step that many people skip when learning how to clean windows: an exterior hose-down. Close all your windows and use a garden hose to spray the outside. You'll remove the first layer of dirt and make the detail work that much easier. Plus, on a summer day you can use window washing as an excuse to splash in the water a little bit. 

How to Clean Inside Windows

How you wash individual windows depends on the type of windows you have. Newer versions flip open, enabling you to clean both the outside and inside from the same spot. Older ones might be stationary, which means you'll have to use a ladder to clean the exteriors. Most will allow you to remove the screens and clean them separately. Clean indoor glass panes with a window cleaner. Screens may be cleaned with warm, soapy water, either on a paved outside area or in a bathtub.

Dry the Glass

There are few things that can ruin freshly cleaned windows quicker than gobs of left-behind lint. Instead of paper towels, utilize a lint-free option—clean coffee filters, crumpled newsprint, or a microfiber or flour-sack towel. Or, try a small squeegee with a sharp, nick-free rubber blade. This fool-proof trick will make you feel like a professional window cleaning service.

Cleaning Windows with Vinegar

There are many DIY window cleaner recipes available, but our favorite starts with a vinegar base. To make your own glass cleaner, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/3 cup vinegar 
  • distilled water

For best results, look for vinegar that says "made from grain" on the label. Funnel the ingredients into a 32-ounce spray bottle and lightly shake to mix. Spritz onto a lint-free cloth and clean your windows—it's that simple (and affordable)! 

Another genius tip for avoiding streaks on your clean windows? Swap your lint-free cloth for a newspaper. The material successfully cleans windows but might extend the chore.

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