How to Wash Windows
After a long cold winter, everyone is thrilled to open up their heavy draperies.
Once the drapes have exposed the window, a gasp is heard throughout the house!
Every year the same thing happens and we wonder how we could let our windows get so disgustingly filthy. The truth is that nobody wants to brave the cold to wash their windows. It's kind of a hard job too..
Households with fireplaces or that have smoke indoors from cooking or cigarettes have a constant battle to keep the windows clean. The windows have a yellowish hue to them which is greasy, grimy and not at all pleasant to look at. The stench of the smoke also attaches itself to the glass.
To wash your windows perfectly and make them streak-free, it’s not just the glass cleaner. It’s about the tools you use. If you are going for perfection- The best way is to clean the outside windows first. It’s usually a bigger job, and you might decide you want to do the inside windows the next day.
Besides, there’s nothing worse than cleaning your inside windows and not knowing if they are actually clean because the other side is dirty!
I grew up in a home where we had a large wood burning wood stove with leaking stove pipes. When we opened the front door (going in or out) the smoke would come pouring out of the leaky pipes inside our home.
Smoke or not, I still love a real wood fire and have had to suffer to consequences because of this.
These days, I enjoy a clean burning natural gas fireplace... No more dirty smoke, wood chips, pieces of wood, cobwebs, dead bugs (!) being tracked into the house when you carry in the cut wood logs..
After a lifetime of cleaning windows and some trial and error, I suppose I could be called a window cleaning expert. I have the experience for sure!
Granted, I make my husband do the heavy lifting, but glass and windows always need to be cleaned at least once a season... Even if you don't use a real wood fireplace.
So are you ready then? Let's get busy and clean your dirty windows!
Remove the Window Screens
If you have a lot of windows, it is easiest to remove all of your screens from the inside. Take a pencil and write in tiny letters on the frame where it belongs as you remove them. Example: MBR – L (Master Bedroom, left window) or something that will make sense to you later. To clean your screens, you will need:
- A bucket of soapy water – dish soap is fine
- A SOFT bristle brush
- Access to a garden hose
Begin by using the hose on a soft setting – don’t use a strong “jet” setting that will damage your screens. Slop some of the soapy water onto the screen if necessary (if there are dead bugs, grit on the frame, spider webs), and gently use the soft brush to get off the mess.
While you’re cleaning your screens, look for tears or holes. Don’t put a screen back that is damaged.
Keep it aside for the next weekend project. Repairing or replacing screening within a frame is simple and takes about a half an hour. Rinse off the screens and place them somewhere to air dry.
Window Cleaner Recipe
There are tons of recipes for homemade window cleaning solutions. These are usually made with products that are already in your cabinet. They are all very simple to make and work just as well as or better than the more expensive commercial window cleaners.
This Simple Glass Cleaner Recipe Cuts Heavy Duty Grime
You will need:
- 1 cup of foaming ammonia
- 4 cups of rubbing alcohol
- 1 teaspoon of grease dissolving dish detergent
- 2 gallons of cool water
- 1 large bucket
- 1 household sponge
- 1 sponge mop
- Fill the bucket with the water.
- Add the rubbing alcohol, dish detergent and ammonia.
- Mix it thoroughly so it is nice and sudsy.
- Use the mop to apply the solution to exterior windows.
- Scrub the windows vigorously to get rid of the dirt and grime.
- Finish by using a piece of newspaper for a streak-free shine.
Cleaning your Windows Perfectly & Streak Free
To clean windows, most people either use a squeegee or a microfiber cloth. If you have the right tools, what solution you actually use to clean the windows really doesn’t matter very much.
Professionals use squeegees because they get a window completely dry so there are no streaks. You can buy a squeegee for home use, but make sure you consider the size of your windows before you buy, especially if you have small panes.
The cheapest way and easiest way to use a squeegee is to use it with a bucket. If you want to use spray, you still have to use a cloth to spread it around before you squeegee, and that’s more work. We are going for saving time while still getting great results.
You can buy a window washing tool (just a foamy or fuzzy strip with a handle,) or you can use a regular cloth. Dip it into a bucket of diluted cleaner (I like to use diluted windshield washer for easy jobs, and 1 cup of white vinegar in a gallon of water with just a quick squirt of dish soap for tougher jobs), apply it to the window, scrubbing where you need to.
Next is your squeegee technique:
- Some people like to use a dry cloth to clean the very top of the windows
- Then pull the squeegee from the dry area all the way down to prevent streaks.
That’s a lot of work, and if you’re doing multiple windows, your cloth gets wet, so I don’t like this method. The better method is to simply wet your squeegee before you start.
- Your first stroke should be horizontal (across) at the very top of the window.
- Wipe off your squeegee, and pull down from the dry part.
- When you get to the bottom, use another horizontal stroke
- The last step is to wipe the one last remaining corner with a clean cloth.
Microfiber Cloth Method
Now that you can buy microfiber cloths (expensive in stores, but much cheaper online), the squeegee isn’t your only option.
Microfiber cloths are the same material you use to clean eyeglasses. They get the windows dry and leave no lint or streaks. You’re able to dump the bucket and the tools and just spray your cleaner on the glass and wipe the windows with the microfiber to dry easily streak-free.
Everyday Window Cleaning
A weekly cleaning of your windows will allow the sun to shine in and keep your home looking meticulously clean.
Dirty and dingy windows give the appearance that you don’t care about how your home is kept. Nobody wants to give visitors the impression that their home is unkempt.
This easy recipe is perfect for maintaining clean windows weekly.
My grandmother brought this recipe with her from Ireland. It has been in the family forever.
We've just changed the soap called for in the original recipe to dish detergent because honestly, I’m not about to spend the time to make my own soap. That is just never going to happen!
Even still, after over a century, this glass cleaner recipe works better that anything you can buy at the store and costs less money.
- 1 gallon of water
- 10 tablespoons of borax
- 2 drops of grease dissolving dish detergent
- 1 household sponge
- 1 bucket
- Newspaper/Paper Towels or Squeegee to dry the windows
- Fill your bucket with 1 gallon of hot water.
- Add the borax and stir it well.
- Mix in the dish detergent and work it until it starts to suds up. There will not be a lot of suds but you will see a minimal amount on the top of the water.
- Use the sponge to rub away the dirt.
- Dip it frequently so that the sponge is constantly using clean solution on the windows.
- When the dirt has been removed, finish by drying it to a streak-free shine with newspaper or paper towels.
For best results, and to be able to really appreciate your efforts you will want to clean your windows both inside and out. I think that is why the chore of washing windows is such a dreaded job--because it is double-duty!
You have to do both sides to get the desired results and after all the labor cleaning one side, it doesn't look any better till you get the other side done. But the clear, streak free shine is worth all the effort.
Window Washing Image Copyright Reserved by Mrs. Clean.