With these steps, all your windows will be spot- and streak-free
You fell in love with your home because of the big lemon tree outside, and the view got even better after you installed a hummingbird feeder. But after a rough winter, the grime on the windows is making it difficult to enjoy the lovely little ecosystem in your front yard. Here are eight simple steps to clean your windows so they’re perfectly spotless and help you get your favorite view back.
Difficulty: 1/5 Simple project; big impact.
Time: Varies based on number of windows that need cleaning, but budget roughly 20-30 minutes per window
Tools and Materials Needed:
Cleaning solution, which might include vinegar, dishwashing liquid, borax, or lemon juice
Drop cloth or sheet (optional, but recommended)
Sponge mop on a pole (optional; only needed for high windows)
1. Set a Schedule
Be honest with yourself: How dirty will you allow your windows to get before needing a cleaning? You might want to clean once per week, once per month, or once per season—some of this will depend on where you live and environmental factors that contribute to the grime that gets left behind.
2. Mix a Cleaning Solution
There are lots of commercial cleaners on the market, but chances are you have what you need right at home. Here are a few DIY window cleaning solutions you can mix up:
Vinegar: combine one part white vinegar to one part water
Dishwashing liquid: squeeze a dime-size amount of soap into a bucket of water
Borax: combine two tablespoons of Borax for every three cups of water
Lemon juice: squeeze one-fourth cup of juice into two cups of warm water, and add a tablespoon of cornstarch
3. Clear the Area
Make sure furniture, the kiddo’s train set, dog toys, and knick-knacks are out of the way before you begin cleaning. You might also put down a drop cloth or sheet to protect your flooring.
4. Gather Your Tools (And Skip the Paper Products)
You may have been taught to use newspaper to scrub tough spots off of your windows, but it’s better to skip any paper products for this project—they’ll just break down and leave unsightly bits behind. Instead, buy a sturdy microfiber cloth to get the job done, and make sure to have it handy along with your cleaning solutions and a toothbrush to clean the frame.
5. Start With the Frame
If you don’t start with the tracks and frame, a significant amount of dirt can get mixed into your cleaning solution as you work on the window, creating streaks and residue that you’ll have to wash away. To prevent this, clean the outer edges of the window first, using a toothbrush and a pinch of baking soda added to white vinegar. Don’t forget to clean the trim around the window, the window sill, and the sash, too.
6. Squeegee the Rest
After covering the entire window with a cleaning solution and working through any especially stubborn areas, use a squeegee—working from top to bottom—to get the water and cleanser off, streak-free. Wipe down the squeegee every few swipes with one of those clean microfiber cloths you bought.
7. Grab the Mop for Tall Windows
Can’t reach the top of that tall window? No problem: Get a sponge mop on a pole to get to those high-up areas. Strategically place towels around to catch any excess water as you clean, then attach your squeegee to an adjustable pole to wipe away the excess.
8. Call a Professional When Necessary
If there are some windows you can’t reach even with your sponge mop-pole tool or there are signs of insects building nests behind your shutters, it might be better to call a local professional window washer. Precariously standing on a ladder squeegeeing is not easy work; swallow your pride and dial up someone who has the proper experience and insurance to get the job done right.