A clean window can make a huge difference in the appearance of your home. The secret to a streak-free shine is the proper cleaning technique.
Start by using slightly soapy water and a sponge or clean, lint-free cloth to wash the windows. Then lightly wet a squeegee (a dry one will skip against the glass). Start at the upper corner of the window and work your way down. See our home page.
Remove All Coverings
If your windows have window treatments, close them and dust them (labeling each one to keep track of which window it belongs to). Also, remove screens and aerators, and wipe down the frames.
Start by spraying the window with your homemade vinegar solution or commercial cleaner. Then begin wiping down the glass with a microfiber cloth or sponge and work your way across the window and down.
Be sure to use a cloth that’s designed to be used with glass (some have a honeycomb texture to nab water spots and smudges), rather than paper towels, which can leave streaks and lint behind. You can even try a sponge mop or newspaper pages instead of a rag. If the window has adhesive-backed film, apply a solvent to dissolve it before attempting to peel it off.
Prep the Surface
The area around the windows gets dirty quickly because of cobwebs, leaves, and insect activity. Windy weather also kicks up dirt, pollen, and dust. To avoid streaks and smudges, start by gently brushing away any gunk that can’t be removed with soapy water.
Next, spray the window with cleaner (we recommend a nonabrasive glass cleaning solution). Spray a narrow line down the center and stay away from the edges or other non-glass surfaces.
Use a clean, dry lint-free towel to wipe the window and the frames. Paper towels shred and leave lint behind, but microfiber cloths like Casabella’s can be laundered to be lint-free and highly absorbent. Avoid fabric softeners, which coat the fibers and prevent them from being as absorbent. For stubborn stains on the frame, Weingard says to use mineral spirits or a cleaning solution containing acetone.
Pour a mixture of equal parts vinegar and distilled water into a clean spray bottle. Add essential oils if desired, but only a few drops, since scented vinegars can degrade plastic bottles over time.
For windows that need extra cleaning, make a stronger solution. Mix together one cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of distilled water. Pour this into a clean spray bottle and label it.
Use the solution to spray the glass surfaces. Start at the top of the window, so the cleaner doesn’t drip onto the frames or non-glass surfaces.
Use a lint-free cloth to wipe away the cleaner, then squeeze the window dry with a second clean, lint-free cloth. If you’re working vertically, place a terrycloth rag against the end of your squeegee to catch the drips and protect the wood muntins from getting wet.
When you’ve finished washing your windows, use a clean rag to wipe off the cleaning solution. This will remove any remaining white spots and clean up window hardware.
It’s a good idea to wipe down your windows twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, to prevent tough mineral deposits from building up on the glass. This will also help keep your windows looking great and eliminate smudges.
For harder-to-reach windows, consider using a telescoping pole with a sponge mop head or microfiber mop attached at the end. Be sure to have a clean rubber blade ready to avoid drips. For even better results, a dry, lint-free cloth will work just as well. Be sure to swap out the towel periodically to avoid streaking.
When the windows are wiped clean, buffing the surface helps create a smooth finish. Usually done with a chamois skin or microfiber cloth, the buffing process can also remove streaks.
The best buffing solution for window cleaning is distilled vinegar and water. This natural product breaks down grime and is gentle enough to use on window frames and screens, writes Donna Boyle Schwartz for Bob Vila. A teaspoon of regular dishwashing liquid can also be used in place of vinegar, explains Family Handyman.
If a squeegee is being used, it should be cleaned frequently with a lint-free cloth or napkin to remove any dirt and residue from the rubber blade. It can cause streaks if it’s left too long on the glass. A good quality squeegee should be able to glide across the glass without leaving any streaks. Next article.