Let the Sunshine In: How to Clean Glass Windows

Brighten up your rooms with a little elbow grease.
Brighten up your rooms with a little elbow grease.
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You've probably heard the old housekeeper joke "I don't do windows." This is a comedy standard because it rings true. Out of all the cleaning tasks to refuse, windows ranks for a reason. For one, there are probably a lot of windows in your house, so it's a big job. Windows are also difficult to clean. The nooks and crannies collect dust and grime and require a patient hand. To get the glass to a clear, streak-free finish isn't impossible, but you have to know what you're doing to achieve this domestic milestone. And just when you think you've finished them all, you remember that the other side needs work, too. Add to this that the location of windows also can pose a problem, with some houses requiring ladders and sometimes even extension poles. The bad news is that the windows on your home should be cleaned inside and out at least twice a year. The good news is we have some tips for you to help you get your windows clean and clear.

Window Cleaning Supplies

There are basically two ways you can go when it comes to the cleaning solution. You can either go with a store-bought product or you make up your own. The advantage to making your own solution is that you can avoid the chemical ingredients that are found in most brand-name cleaners. It can also be more cost-efficient. Some people appreciate the ease of use of a store-bought cleaning solution, and there are people- and pet-friendly products on the market if you're trying to avoid chemicals. Consumer Reports has performed tests on various store-bought cleaners and homemade solutions to see how they stack up against one another. The natural cleaners rated slightly lower than the mainstream, brand-name products, although they were all rated satisfactory. There are many recipes for DIY window cleaner, with most containing water and alcohol. Others contain white vinegar and small amounts of dish washing liquid. Ammonia is another common ingredient for homemade cleaners. Try out some recipes from the Internet to see which one works for you.

Streak-free Window Cleaning Tips

Once you've decided on your cleaning solution, it's time to get cracking. Do yourself a favor and take some time to vacuum the window sills and the all of those nooks and crannies. This will make cleaning the glass easier and less messy. You can help avoid streaking by not cleaning your windows when there's direct sunlight on them. This dries them out too quickly, causing the streaks that you loathe. If you have large windows that don't have panes, you can clean like a pro with a sponge and a squeegee. This will help to prevent streaking. If you have small panes, then a squeegee isn't an option. There are several different things you can use to clean your paned windows. Some people use a sponge followed by a polish with a cotton shirt, newspaper or cloth diaper. Others prefer to go ahead and use one of those items for the cleaning and polishing. Just remember that a clean and dry cloth or newspaper is necessary to get a streak-free result, so follow the clean with a polish no matter what you use to get the grime off.

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Sources

  • D'Agnese, Joe. "How to Clean Windows Like a Pro." Thisoldhouse.com, 2010. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,463755,00.html
  • "Glass Cleaner Reviews and Buying Guide." Galttech.com, 2010. http://www.galttech.com/research/household-DIY-tools/best-glass-cleaners.php
  • "Windows, Mirrors, & Glass." Soapman.com, 2010. http://www.soapman.com/tips/TipsPages/Windows-Mirrors-Glass.html