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The Easy Way to Wash and Clean Your Windows

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Tips for Keeping Your Window and Door Glass Clean

When it comes to keeping the glass in your home’s doors clean, you might think there’s nothing to it—all it takes is a little glass cleaner and paper towels, right? Sounds easy enough, but it’s not always that simple.

There are many ways to clean your windows, and if you’ve found a great method that works perfectly to your standards, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.

But if you’re finding that the technique you’ve grown accustomed to just isn’t getting the job done, then take note of some of the practices within this blog and get your windows looking clean, clear and beautiful again. It’s important to always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions, but here are some general guidelines and tips.


What to Use to Clean Window Glass

While there are many commercial glass cleaner options available on the market, there are also a number of recipes that you can use to make your own. One homemade recipe requires equal amounts of white vinegar and distilled water in a spray bottle. The white vinegar has acetic acid which can be used to clean, sanitize and deodorize just about any type of surface. Unlike tap water (which contains minerals), distilled water will not leave streaks on the glass. If you have stubborn streaks or hard water stains, you can use pure white vinegar on these without diluting it.

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Another tool option for cleaning windows is one you probably already have readily available in your house: coffee filters. These are inexpensive, tear-resistant and lint-free. They are also made so they don’t break apart, even when exposed to water.

To begin, spray cleaner on the filter and then wipe the glass, just as you would with a cloth or paper towels. You may find that the larger coffee filters work best as they will cover more space; you can also use more than one at a time, increasing the absorbency.

Newspaper is another lint-free alternative to cloth and paper towels. The glass will not absorb ink, but the ink can easily get on the frame around the glass, so it’s important to cover those areas before beginning. Be aware, if you work with newspaper you may also get ink all over your hands. You can, however, wear plastic or rubber gloves to protect your hands.

And yet another option is cleaning with an old t-shirt, which may also be lint-free. Microfiber cloths are, for the most part, the gold standard however.

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Getting Started with the Window Cleaning Process

Start the process by wiping down the glass and door frame with a soft dusting cloth to remove loose dirt and dust. This will help ensure the dust doesn’t stick to the surface.

If your glass is dusty rather than streaky, you can clean it without any type of solution. Just use a lint-free cloth to wipe away the dust. After that, polish the glass with a different, clean cloth.

Certain cleaners can cause damage to the wood frame around the glass. So before you begin cleaning with any type of solution, cover the frame with newspaper, or any type of absorbent cloth, to catch drips. Be sure to not spray the cleaner directly on the glass and clean the glass in small sections. Clean starting from the top and work your way down.

Should You Clean Your Windows From the Inside or Outside?

Many of these practices apply when you’re cleaning both the interior and exterior parts of your windows. However, some steps can get a bit messy if you’re not careful, so use your discretion.

For example, when working on the exterior, it is a good idea to give your windows a quick rinse with a hose. But you’re not going to be doing that from the inside, right? (Also, double-check to make sure your windows are in fact fully closed before getting started.)

The Best Way to Wash Outside Windows

Gather a plastic bucket, dishwashing liquid, a sponge or scrubber, and a squeegee. Squeeze a small amount of soap into the bucket and fill it with water.

Start by rinsing the windows with a hose. Modern-day windows and window glass can stand up to a decent spray-down, but don’t get carried away with the water pressure and a sharp flow control setting. The last thing you want to do is damage your window.

Once this is done, get working on each window one at a time. Dunk your sponge into the water, squeeze some of the excess liquid out of it, and scrub every inch of the window glass. Then grab your squeegee, and work from side to side or top to bottom until the soapy water is removed. (You should occasionally be wiping the squeegee blade on a clean towel to remove any dirt you may have picked up.)

Whether you’re squeegeeing vertically or horizontally, it’s best to start at the top of the window and work your way to the bottom—gravity will be dragging the excess water and soap down throughout the process.

Wipe down the frame of your window with a rag, and if you have a microfiber towel available, carefully run it along the very edge of the glass to remove the remainder of excess water and soap that you may not have gotten with the squeegee.

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The Best Way to Wash Windows From the Inside

This process (minus the hose-down), can be repeated on the inside of the window. However, be extra careful to not make a mess. Lay towels across the bottom of the window and/or wall to protect the interior of your house from soapy water.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the sponge and squeegee method inside, there are many professional glass cleaners available that can do the trick. These can be applied directly to the glass and wiped clean with paper towels. Ask a representative at your local hardware store for recommendations. In the next section, we’ll provide some tips on how to obtain a streak-free shine using good old glass cleaner instead of a bucket and squeegee.

A Streak-Free Shine

While cleaning the glass itself isn’t all that difficult, one of the biggest challenges for homeowners is getting it clean without leaving streaks. One of the best ways to ensure streak-free glass is to clean from the top down. This will help you make sure there isn’t any dripping on the surface you’ve already cleaned.

  1. Begin the cleaning process by spraying a window cleaning solution directly on your cloth, towel, coffee filter or newspaper. Rub the glass gently in a circular motion to remove the dirt and spots. For heavily soiled glass use a sponge instead and repeat this process on the other areas of the glass until you’ve cleaned the entire surface. You may have to rub that area more than once if there are hard-to-clean spots.
  2. After you’ve cleaned, you will next want to wipe and dry the glass. If you’re used to using paper towels or a cloth to clean and dry your glass, you’re probably also familiar with having to wipe and re-wipe areas you’ve already cleaned due to lint and streaking. Next, use a dry, soft cloth to wipe the surface quickly; do this in one direction only. For example, if you start wiping vertically continue in this direction and avoid switching to a horizontal stroke.
  3. Finally, buff the glass to give it a nice finish. You can do this with a microfiber cloth or newspapers, as either will help remove any remaining moisture from the surface. Remember, the newspaper ink can stain your hands, so wearing gloves is an option to help keep your hands clean.
  4. To remove residue that’s built up in the corners, use a cotton swab to clean those areas, which can be hard to reach.
  5. Once the glass is clean, wipe the edges of the panes with another soft, dry cloth; if there are still marks that you need to remove, use a damp cloth.

Window Features for Easy Cleaning

cleaning uPVC windows

Some windows have functions that allow you to clean the outside of your windows from the inside. You may have a clip or tab on the frame that releases the window unit down and toward you. If you’re unsure, it’s best to have a helper assist in bringing down the window. They can also hold it up at the proper angle while you clean.

Clean Your Windows the Way That Works Best for You

These are tried-and-true methods for cleaning windows, but there are many other techniques out there that homeowners swear by. One of these is to give the glass a quick wipe-down with water and soap. Then, mix a small amount of vinegar with water into a spray bottle and wipe the glass dry. This can also be done on the exterior, but with a hose-rinse at the beginning and a squeegee during the drying phases.

Don’t Forget the Window Screens

What good is a clean window if the screen in front of it is filthy? Remove the screens from your windows, give them a good hose-down, scrub them with the soap-and-water mix we described above, and rinse once more before putting them back in.

Safety First

The above methods assume you have direct physical access to the window. If you must use a ladder, be extremely careful and always have someone with you to help. We do not recommend cleaning windows from the roof and advise you to seek a professional if this is necessary.

Continue to Keep Your Glass Clean

Cleaning your door glass may never be your favorite household chore, but it can be simplified and efficient by these tips and proper tools. To keep your glass sparkling, it’s good to follow cleaning procedures regularly. Set a goal to clean your glass doors thoroughly—both inside and out—every few weeks or at least once a month. Also, for your best results, you can try cleaning the glass on a cloudy day. The sun can dry the glass prematurely and leave residue and streaks.

Local glass shops are readily available as well to answer questions and help you through the process. You will find that many of them also offer recommended cleaning products, tools and supplies. If you’re looking for guidance, assistance or product recommendations, can help you find companies in your specific area that can get you on your way to sparkling clean glass.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Nick St. Denis

Nick St. Denis currently serves as the director of research for Key Media & Research and is formerly the editor of USGlass magazine. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York where he studied journalism and is currently working on earning his Master’s Degree in survey research. Nick has a passion for sports including football, hockey, and golf. He enjoys playing ice hockey in a local men’s league and cheers on the New York Islanders when not on the ice himself. He was actually a sports reporter for a New York newspaper and also worked at a country club in Virginia. Most notably, Nick is husband to his wife Tammy, and father to his son Carter. Find out more about Nick on Linkedin.

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One Response

  1. I really appreciate your tip to rinse your windows first to get any big grime off of it. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house that has a big window on the front, and we want to make sure that the windows look good for our neighbors to be impressed. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and wash the windows with a hose to make them look good!

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