There’s nothing more beautiful than sparkling clean windows and, ideally, yours should be cleaned twice a year (at least). You’ll be amazed at how shiny windows can transform the look of your home but, for many of us, window cleaning is a chore we put off because we think it will be messy and time consuming. Or, if you hire someone to do it, you know it can be costly. It’s no wonder the mantra of most cleaning services is “we don’t do windows.” But that’s okay – today the experts at Associated Glass will show you how to clean your windows fast like a pro and for little cost.
Cleaning Windows: Interior Vs Exterior
You’ll want to take a different approach when cleaning the insides of your windows versus the outsides. Why? They accumulate different types of dirt and – importantly – you don’t want a watery mess on your floors and carpet. Below are instructions for interior and exterior cleaning. Here’s the tools you need for cleaning your windows:
- One gallon bucket
- Natural sponge
- Small scrub brush with handle
- Chamois cloth
- Towel (for inside use only)
- Squeegee (large and small)
Cleaning Paned Windows
Paned windows can accumulate crud in the corners and, since there are more corners, it may take a little more effort. Use the toothbrush to gently scrub into those corners to loosen up any crud. The main thing is you don’t want to let the cleaning solution sit too long on the window, particularly if you have wood surrounds.
Here’s how to clean interior and exterior paned windows.
- Interior paned windows – Place an old towel below the window to catch any drips. Wipe away any loose debris or cobwebs. Use the “best window cleaner recipe” (see below). Start at the top pane. Soak the natural sponge in the cleaning solution and ring out so it’s not too drippy. Wash two to three panes. Use the toothbrush (if needed) to clean any dirt out of the corners.
Use your small squeegee and swipe downward to wipe the whole pane. Then, use your chamois cloth to wipe around the edges of the window and swipe any loose drips. Move on to the next set of panes. When done, wipe the surrounding wood and ledge with the towel to clean any drips.
- Exterior paned windows – Use the same steps as for the interior, but you can skip the towel since you don’t have carpets and flooring to deal with. If you have tough-to-remove debris, you may need to use your scrub brush – but use it gently. Work from the top down, squeegee and wipe with the chamois and, when you’re done, squeegee the ledge to clear drips off the wood.
Cleaning Picture Windows or Patio Doors
Picture windows and glass doors are easier to clean with a larger squeegee (12” or wider) but you can use your small squeegee if you don’t have a larger one. For a large window, it’s important to work fast since you have a larger surface area to cover and your solution is more likely to drip on your floors or dry before you’re complete. Here’s how to clean interior and exterior picture windows.
- Interior – Lay out your towel on the ledge or below the window. If you have any debris stuck to the large window, use a cloth or dry scrub brush to gently wipe it away before you start. Soak your natural sponge in the cleaning solution then wring it out a little so it’s not dripping too much. Working fast, wipe the entire window with the wet sponge.
Re-soak if necessary. Use your toothbrush or scrub brush to gently clean out any stubborn debris in the corners. Using your large squeegee, start at the top and use a reverse “s” motion. Lift the squeegee, wipe the blade, then repeat in the next area until you’ve swiped the whole window. Use your chamois to wipe the edges of the window and frame plus any drips the squeegee missed.
- Exterior – Skip the towel step and wet the brush and knock loose any stubborn debris or more serious spots of dirt. Then soak your sponge in the cleaning solution and soak the window from top to bottom. Since you don’t have to worry about floors, you can use as much solution as you want. Squeegee as directed above then chamois any leftover drips.
Professional Window Cleaning Tips
Here are a few trade secrets to ensure you get the best results and can clean your windows fast and effectively.
- Don’t clean your windows when the sun is shining directly on them. The cleaning fluid can dry too fast and leave you with spots or streaks.
- The best weather to clean windows is an overcast (but not rainy day) with no wind. This will keep your cleaning solution from drying too fast.
- Don’t rub with cloths, paper towels or newspaper. This creates a static charge on the glass which can attract dust, dirt and defeat the purpose.
- Before you put the cleaning solution on your window, use a vacuum attachment, duster or soft cloth to wipe away any loose dirt and cobwebs.
- Each time you swipe your squeegee, wipe it with a lint-free cloth or your chamois cloth. A dry squeegee is your best friend.
- For taller windows, as an alternative to a ladder, buy an extension for your squeegee and brush handle to help you reach.
Best Window Cleaner Recipes
You need only three ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. This is great for interior and exterior windows. You need water, white vinegar and liquid dish soap (the kind you wash dishes with in the sink, not the dishwasher). This recipe will make a little less than a gallon of cleaning solution.
Here’s the first recipe:
- 12 cups of water
- 1 ½ cups of white vinegar
- 3 teaspoons liquid dish soap
Mix the three components in a gallon bucket then stir it gently to mix – you don’t want a bunch of bubbles. Any unused cleaner can be safely poured down the drain.
Best “no-towel, no squeegee” Exterior Window Cleaner Recipe
If you want a lightning fast method to clean your windows, don’t have a lot of stubborn dirt and don’t mind using a chemical in the process, this recipe will leave you with nearly streak free windows without having to dry with a squeegee or chamois cloth.
Here’s the next recipe:
- ½ gallon warm water
- 1 tablespoon Jet Dry dishwasher rinse aid
- 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap
Mix components in a bucket and stir gently to avoid excess bubbles. Wet the window with your garden hose, apply the cleaning solution to the window with a natural sponge or brush then quickly rinse again with your hose. Leave for 30 minutes and voila! The no-rinse sheeting action that keeps spots off your glasses in the dishwasher works the same on the windows.
Window Cleaner Recipe for Touch-ups Between Washings
Interior windows can get icky between your twice yearly big cleanings, particularly if you’ve got kids that touch your glass or pets that like to press their noses to the windows. This low-cost window cleaner can be mixed up quickly and used with a spray bottle to use any time you spot a smudge. This is much better than anything you can buy in the store and costs about 40¢ a bottle. You can’t beat that.
Here’s what you need:
- Empty spray bottle (or recycle an old one)
- 2 cups warm water
- ¼ cup rubbing alcohol
- ¼ cup white vinegar
Using a funnel, pour the alcohol and vinegar in first, then add the cornstarch and wash it down with the warm water. Pop the sprayer on and shake vigorously until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Shake before each use to make sure no cornstarch has settled. The cornstarch is the secret ingredient that keeps windows from streaking (this solution is also perfect for mirrors, picture frames, oven door glass, etc.). Spray your glass surface then wipe gently with a chamois cloth (no rubbing!).
We hope you enjoyed these expert glass cleaning tips. And when you need new or replacement glass for your home or office, contact Associated Glass. We offer stock and custom glass, mirrors, screens and more.
We provide free estimates and expert installation services. We’ve been in Seattle since 1959 and are a trusted local family business! Call us at (425) 778-2174 in Lynnwood or (360) 568-0525 for our Snohomish location.