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A splatter of cooking grease here, a cute dog nose smudge there—our windows are dirt magnets. And we hate to break the news to you, but there’s a good chance that you’re cleaning yours wrong. Even if you’re a pro at spring cleaning, it’s all too easy to end up with streaks on the glass, not to mention leftover dirt and debris that you didn’t wash off properly. But learning how to clean windows isn’t hard—nope, not even the windows outside that you can’t reach. You just need some insider tricks to get the job done right.
We consulted Ken Fisk, director of technical services atWindow Genie, aNeighborlycompany, to get the lowdown on this task so you can add it to your regular cleaning schedule, along with cleaning your blinds and drapes. Once you know how to get sparkling, streak-free windows year-round, turn your attention to other areas of your house that need some love, and check out our guides on how to clean your kitchen andhow to clean your bathroom, as well as your carpet and your baseboards.
How to prep your windows for cleaning
Don’t wet your windows just yet! A little prep will go a long way to ensure you don’t miss a spot—and that you protect your blinds and windowsill from potential damage. Fisk recommends the following steps:
- Lay a clean, dry towel across the sill to collect debris and prevent water from accumulating on the wood.
- Close the louvers (or slats) on blinds and dust them before pulling them up to the top of the window.
- If you have fabric window treatments, remove them so they don’t get splashed. Shake them as you remove them, or put machine-safe ones in the dryer for a short tumble on the air-dry setting. This will remove the dust and prevent it from being redeposited on clean windows.
- Remove screens (labeling each one, so you know which window it belongs to) and set aside, in a safe place, for cleaning.
- Sweep away cobwebs and loose dirt from frames, hinges and tracks. Fisk reaches for a tool found in the sporting-goods section, an umpire brush—yes, the one that’s used to sweep home plate at a baseball stadium. Turns out, it’s the ideal size for getting into those tiny crevices. Always make sure to dry sweep before wetting the windows to prevent water from mixing with the buildup and creating sludge.
How to clean windows on the inside
OK, now you’re ready to wash those windows. First, let’s talk about how to clean inside windows like a pro, using a commercial glass cleaner.
- Gently wipe the windowpane with a damp cloth. This will wet the glass while simultaneously removing the top layer of loose dirt.
- Next, spray a cleaner—such as Windex or Invisible Glass—on the window. When spraying, begin toward the top of the glass and spray a narrow line down the center. Stay away from the edges or non-glass surfaces, since they can be damaged by over-spraying.
- Use a dry, lint-free towel, ideally a microfiber cloth, to wash the window, spreading the solution across the glass.This will work better than paper towels, which can leave behind lint.
- Apply light pressure on any stubborn, stuck-on gunk.
- Once all the dirt is off the windows, it’s time to dry them. Working from the top down to prevent drips, dry the glass with a squeegee or clean, dry, lint-free towel.
- Use a dry part of the same cloth to wipe away cleaner that’s pooled around the edges where the glass meets the frame.
- If any streaks remain, go over the area in a circular motion, buffing them away with a fresh, dry, lint-free cloth.
How to clean windows without streaks
Streaks happen during the drying process, so pay close attention to how you dry the glass. The key: Always work from the top down, says Fisk. Otherwise, water will trickle onto the clean window, leaving streaks behind.
- Spray as you go. According to Fisk, “a common mistake is letting the solution dry on the window.” Focus on cleaning one window at a time.
- Always keep the squeegee blade or towel in contact with the glass. Skipping causes drips.
- Opt for the S method instead of wiping in straight lines. Fisk says the S, or swivel, method “is faster than most other methods” because you cover more surface area more quickly—and that means there’s less chance of the glass air-drying, which causes streaks. Starting from the top, move the towel or squeegee across the glass as if you were writing the letter S. Each pass will draw the water or cleaner back to the center, where you will then pick it up during the next curved pass.
How to clean windows on the outside
While exterior windows may seem intimidating, they’re actually a lot easier to tackle. That’s because you can use a garden hose instead of painstakingly wiping each and every pane of glass.To clean outside windows, replace the current spray trigger on the hose with a high-pressure spray nozzle and solution-dispensing cylinder. Pour a little liquid dish soap in the container, and use one of the eight spray patterns—from mist to shower to water-only—for a professional window wash.
- Close all windows.
- Spray the glass with a garden hose (on gentle pressure) to remove the initial layer of dirt.
- For gently scrubbing debris off windows you can’t easily reach, don’t teeter on a ladder. Fisk suggests using a telescoping polethat has microfiber cloths at the head, rotates and extends more than five feet.
- Turn the sprayer to water-only to rinse the cleaning solution off the windows.
- Wipe the window dry with a telescoping squeegee. Between passes, dry the squeegee’s rubber blade with a clean cloth to prevent drips.
You can also take a shortcut by turning your garden hose into a commercial window sprayer. Screw a jug of Windex’s outdoor glass-cleaning solution to your garden hose, and spray the glass. Then unscrew the jug, screw the spray nozzle back on and rinse with plain water. No scrubbing or drying required!
How to clean window screens
Don’t forget about those screens when you’re learning how to clean windows. This will translate to less dust, dirt and pollen flowing into your home when the windows are open. To do this properly, you’ll need to remove the screens … and it’s essential to remember which screen goes where. “Make sure you keep the screens with the windows they come out of,” says Fisk, “as the house could have settled, and the screens may not fit into other frames.” With that in mind, follow these steps:
- Remove the screens.
- Lightly dust the screens with a soft-bristled brush.
- Use a garden hose, set on a gentle stream, to wet the screen. (High-pressure streams can damage the delicate mesh.)
- Gently wash the screen with a soapy sponge. For an easy homemade cleaning formula, dissolve 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 6 cups of warm water.
- Rinse thoroughly using a garden hose, again on a gentle stream.
- Let the screen air-dry completely. Returning a wet screen to your window introduces moisture that can damage the window frame.
- Once completely dry, return the screen to the correct window, and secure it in place.
The best thing to clean windows with
Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
Evilto Garden Hose Nozzle
Invisible Glass Window Cleaner
The best home remedy for cleaning windows
The most effective DIY window-cleaning ingredient is probably in your pantry right now: distilled white vinegar. If you want to learn how to clean windows with vinegar, Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, suggests this easy homemade window cleaner recipe: In a clean spray bottle, mix 2 cups of water with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon dish soap. “The white vinegar is the start of this recipe, because the acid content can easily slice through dirt, grease and grime buildup on your windows,” Stark explains. Pro tip: Be sure to label the bottle, so you know what solution is inside.
How often should you clean your windows?
Fisk recommends cleaning your windows, inside and out, twice per year. However, he notes that outside windows may need touch-ups or additional washes because they get more abuse from the weather and other environmental factors. Things like pollen, rain droplets, sap-producing trees and birds all contribute to dirty windows. Passing cars can also kick up debris, and if you live near the ocean, caked-on salt can pose an additional problem.
Window cleaning mistakes to avoid
- Reaching for a lint-creating towel. You can never achieve a sparkling window with lint residue. Paper towels can leave globs of disintegrating paper behind. And non-microfiber cloths can deposit lint. Instead, try Amazon Basics microfiber cloths, which are naturally lint-free and highly absorbent, not to mentioneco-friendly. Pro tip: Avoid using fabric softener when laundering microfiber cloths. The softener coats the fibers, making them much less absorbent and much more prone to streaking.
- Using too much cleaning solution. Many people mistakenly believe that more cleaning solution equals cleaner windows, but in fact, the opposite is true. More solution means more cleaning to get it off, and any left behind will streak. Start with one spritz, and if needed, apply a little more.
- Forgetting to clean or rotate cleaning supplies. Wipe the rubber blade of the squeegee between swipes, and swap out your cleaning towels. Otherwise, you’re basically smearing dirt back on your windows.
- Washing your windows on a sunny day. The pros know to clean on cloudy days. Why? The heat of the sun evaporates the water before you have a chance to wipe, giving you less-than-stellar results.
Now that you know how to wash windows, find out the right way to clean your countertops, oven,microwave and glass shower doors.
- Ken Fisk, director of technical services at Window Genie, a Neighborly company
- Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home
How to Clean Your Windows Inside and Out, According to Cleaning Pros? ›
The most common is a water-fed pole cleaner mounted on an extendable pole for easy access to exterior windows. This setup requires significant investment into tools and training but makes cleaning high windows simple. The next most common option is a pair of squeegee and scrubber tools mounted on poles.How do professional window cleaners do windows? ›
The most common is a water-fed pole cleaner mounted on an extendable pole for easy access to exterior windows. This setup requires significant investment into tools and training but makes cleaning high windows simple. The next most common option is a pair of squeegee and scrubber tools mounted on poles.How do you clean windows inside and outside at the same time? ›
Enter the Glider Magnetic Window Cleaner, a clever invention that allows you to clean both the inside and outside of your windows without ever leaving your home. The simple gadget features two squeegee wipers that are held together from both sides of the window by powerful magnets.Is there a way to clean the inside of a double pane window? ›
Cleaning Double Glazed Windows by Drilling Holes
Drilling a few holes into the window will allow you to tuck a small desiccate packet into the window to absorb any moisture that has been caught between the two panes. The holes also allow you to rinse out the window with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl), to remove any dirt.
Don't: Use abrasive pads or glass cleaners. Abrasive pads will likely cause irreparable damage to the glass, while glass cleaners may cause runoff which will cause damage to the frame. Do: Use warm water, a soft cloth and non-abrasive, non-alcoholic cleaners.How often should you clean the inside of your windows? ›
Every Six Months: Windows — Wash your windows inside and out every six months to maintain a clear view out of them. Curtains/Drapes — Some people might overlook washing drapes or curtains but it's something to do every six months.Are professional window cleaners worth it? ›
In fact, professional window cleaning will save you money in the long run by reducing wear and tear, improving heat and air efficiency, and increasing your chances of spotting potential damages before they get out of hand.What tools do professional window cleaners use? ›
- Squeegees. A squeegee is a common cleaning implement with a rubber blade on a handle. ...
- Scrubbers. Scrubbers are sometimes known as sleeves. ...
- Towels and Sponges. ...
- Holsters and Belts. ...
- Safety Goggles and Glasses. ...
- Ropes and Harnesses. ...
- Seatboards. ...
- Safety Tools.
If you have smeared windows when you're finished cleaning, you've left cleaning solution, soap, or minerals behind. Whether you have white residue on windows or another blemish, the solution is the same. Clean faster, use cleaner water, and wipe away all your solution, so nothing is left behind.Are window vacuums worth it? ›
And I actually found it to be rather useful. Before getting into it, it's worth pointing out, that window vacuums aren't just for clearing condensation on windows, they also good for sucking up spills on glass and streak-free window cleaning as they have a squeegee head and onboard tank.
Does vinegar and water clean outside windows? ›
Vinegar and water can be used to clean interior or exterior windows. Because outside windows tend to get dirtier, you might need to make more than one pass, says Harris. No matter what windows you're washing, the process is the same.What is the best way to clean inside double glazed windows? ›
The most reliable cleaner is actually a homemade solution: simply combine one-part white vinegar with four-parts water. With this mixture, all you need to do is wipe your windows in a circular motion with a microfibre cloth.What is the white stuff between double pane windows? ›
A desiccant is an absorbent material designed to maintain dryness in the space it protects. In a double-paned window, silica pellets inside the aluminum perimeter strip absorb moisture from any incoming air that enters the space between the panes.
A hanger wrapped with a thin cloth or pantyhose can also work to clean the surface of the glass. You can also try using a turkey baster to drip in a few drops of rubbing alcohol; the alcohol will help clean the glass and can also help remove the moisture in between the glass panes.What is the best streak-free cleaner for windows? ›
Best Overall: Stoner Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner
Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner quickly and easily removes fingerprints, smudges, grease and grime without leaving behind residue for a streak-free shine without soaps, scents or dyes. In fact, Invisible Glass guarantees a streak-free finish or your money back.
Mix up your window-cleaning solution: In a plastic spray bottle, mix together 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn. Sweep away dirt: Using a broom, sweep away the cobwebs and debris from the windows and sills.Can I use Dawn to wash windows? ›
It's fine to use a commercial window cleaning spray, but you can also make your own that's just as effective—and much cheaper. Combine about 8 ounces of hot water with a drop or two of Dawn dish soap—which is great for cutting grease and grime, says Fisk—in a spray bottle.Should you clean windows with paper towels? ›
Don't use an absorbent paper towel or cloth treated with fabric softener to spread the solution because you'll also end up leaving lint and film behind. To avoid streaks use an untreated paper towel, newspaper or lint-free cloth. According to Windex, old cotton diapers (unused, of course) are a good choice.What season is best to clean windows? ›
Seasons with mild weather, such as spring or autumn, are better than window cleaning in the heat and direct sunlight of summer or the cold in winter, which could be hard on hands and icy windows.Are microfiber cloths good for cleaning windows? ›
Microfiber cloths are absorbent cloths that can be washed and reused to clean windows, leaving them clear, shiny and streak-free. These are best used to apply cleaning solutions to windows, scrub them clean and wipe them dry. Best of all, they are soft and pose no risk to your windows.
Why do my house windows have a film on them? ›
Does the window look streaky or is there a cloudy hazy film on the window? Streaking is caused by an insufficiency of cleaning or rinsing and the cloudy haze is caused by a mineral build up – The rains leaches minerals off the building which splash of the building and run onto the window.Should you dry windows after cleaning? ›
Once you've used your squeegee to clean the windows, you need to dry them to avoid streaks! Instead of using a towel, use a microfibre cloth to avoid getting lint and fluff all over your freshly washed windows.What happens if you don't clean your windows over time? ›
Without cleaning your window washing, the grime and dirt penetrate the glass. This causes staining and other kinds of damage from interior and exterior sources such as wind, rain, salt water, changes in temperature, cleaning products, pollutants, and dirt.What is a good cleaning schedule? ›
For example, Monday: clean the kitchen, entry, and laundry room; Tuesday: living room and dining room; Wednesday: bathrooms; and Thursday: hallway and bedrooms.What is the highest salary for a window cleaner? ›
While ZipRecruiter is seeing salaries as high as $60,222 and as low as $22,522, the majority of salaries within the High Rise Window Cleaner jobs category currently range between $36,231 (25th percentile) to $47,492 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $53,367 annually in California.Do window cleaners take off screens? ›
Professional exterior window cleaning is more than just spraying on a solution and wiping it away. The screens are removed with special tools to give access to the window without damaging the screens.Can you make a lot of money window cleaning? ›
Get Our Free Guide to Starting a Window Cleaning Business
Window cleaning is a straightforward business with low start-up costs, low overheads, and low hassle. It is both profitable and in high demand.
Before the professionals arrive to clean your windows, make sure that any items are off and away from the window sill, and go the extra mile to clear a path with your furniture to make sure each and every window is accessible.What is the window cleaning thing called? ›
Glass scraper: The glass scraper is useful for removing caked-on dirt and grime from the windows. Sponge or T-bar wand: Window cleaners use these tools for wetting the window with soapy water. Squeegee: Window cleaners use squeegees to wipe the dirty water away and leave behind a clean, streak-free window.What skills do window cleaners have? ›
- to enjoy working outside in all types of weather.
- to be able to work at a height.
- a good sense of balance and concentration.
- to be safety conscious.
- to work well on your own or as part of a team.
- a friendly and polite manner.
Which is better for cleaning windows ammonia or vinegar? ›
Both vinegar and ammonia are good cleaning agents, but if you want to be on the safe side, then it's best to go with vinegar. Vinegar is less hazardous. When it comes to actually wiping the windows down, however, microfiber cloths are the best thing to use for absorbency.What makes windows sparkle? ›
Photography by Erin Boyle. Above: A tablespoon of cornstarch is the secret ingredient. Add it to a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar to produce the shiny, streak-free result that is everyone's goal when it comes to cleaning windows.What is the disadvantage of vinegar in cleaning? ›
Vinegar doesn't sanitize or disinfect
Some limitations are that vinegar doesn't disinfect MRSA, STAPH and other nasty germs that can make your family sick. Vinegar DIY cleaners can leave behind as much as 20% of the germs that make families sick because it's not potent enough to kill all of them.
Spray a stronger mix of 1:1 water and vinegar (or Windex, or glass cleaner) at your window, so that the solution covers most of the glass. (I found Windex to work better, but if you have pets—or kids—who frequently lick outdoor windows, vinegar may be the best route for you.)Do you use hot or cold water with vinegar to clean windows? ›
You can also make an all-natural window cleaning solution using a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and hot water. Adding a touch of liquid soap to the vinegar solution will help remove any streak-causing wax left on the window from commercial cleaners used in the past.Does vinegar clean glass better than Windex? ›
It also cleans MUCH better than Windex. Whereas the blue liquid left me with streaky windows, this one leaves absolute nothing but sparkling glass panes behind. It goes on a little cloudy, but then magically wipes clear—it's pretty amazing stuff!What do commercial window cleaners use to clean windows? ›
Many professional window washers today use the same solution recommended for household windows: a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid and deionized (distilled) water. Using distilled water will eliminate the water spots caused by the calcium in tap water.What mixture do professional window cleaners use? ›
Equipment and Cleaners
Window washing solution: This is very important because it removes dirt and helps reduce the number of streaks. A typical solution used by professionals is 3/4 cup clear ammonia or white vinegar, 1 gallon of water and 2 to 4 teaspoons blue Dawn dishwashing liquid combined in a bucket.
Mix up your window-cleaning solution: In a plastic spray bottle, mix together 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn. Sweep away dirt: Using a broom, sweep away the cobwebs and debris from the windows and sills.What is the ratio for vinegar and water to clean windows? ›
Mix one part distilled vinegar to 10 parts warm water in a spray bottle. Wipe down the window with a a soft, clean, lint-free microfiber cloth or paper towel to remove dust before you spray your solution, then spray the entire surface.