The Best Tips for Cleaning Windows, Inside and Out

The most seemingly simple chores are the ones many of us get wrong. Case in point: Cleaning windows. It may look easy, but in fact, even the most experienced spring cleaner could benefit from a refresher course on how to clean windows.

How to Clean Windows, Inside and Out

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Even when the sun is shining, you may not get the maximum amount of natural light in your home if your windows are covered in a film of dirt, dust, splattered bugs, or water spots. To fully enjoy the longer days and the lush views of the outdoors, washing windows is at the top of our spring cleaning list—and it should be on yours, too.

Fortunately, the process of cleaning windows is easy enough. Many commercial window-cleaning products are available, all of which promise to impart a “streak-free shine.” But we have found that a simple solution—one part white vinegar to two parts water—is perfect when mixed up in a spray bottle.

Whether you choose storebought or a homemade vinegar cleaning solution, start with these tips and techniques for how to clean windows inside and out to make the job go quickly and easily.

How to Clean Windows Naturally

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Cleaning the Inside of Windows

  1. Fill a bucket or large pot with clean, cool water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  2. Place a large bath towel beneath the window to catch any spills.
  3. Use a clean microfiber cloth or sponge to go over the surface of the window, starting at the top and working down to the bottom. Don’t forget to wipe down the frame as well, both inside and out.
  4. Spray the window thoroughly with the vinegar and water solution, or if you prefer, a commercial window cleaning product (such as Zep or Windex, both available on Amazon, or any of the other best glass cleaners we recommend). Another option is mixing one capful of ammonia with two gallons of water.
  5. Using a clean, lint-free towel (or the black-and-white pages of a newspaper), dry the window completely using a Z-shaped motion. You also can use clean paper towels to dry the windows, if you prefer.
  6. If dirt or streaks remain, spray and dry again. (Dirty windows typically require two rounds of spraying and drying.)

Keep in mind: It is best to work on a cool, cloudy day so that the soapy water and window-cleaning solution do not dry on your windows.

How to Clean Windows from the Outside

Photo: istockphoto.com

 Cleaning Windows from the Outside

  1. Outside windows typically have more dirt and stains. Start by rinsing the windows with the hose, then fill a bucket with clean, cool water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  2. Using a soft microfiber cloth, go over the surface of the window. For higher windows, use a sponge mop (or a soft cotton or microfiber mop) on a pole.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with the hose.
  4. Spray or mop with the vinegar and water solution or with a commercial cleanser.
  5. Wipe the window dry using a clean, rubber-bladed squeegee. Angle the squeegee towards the bottom of the window and work from top to bottom. Wipe the squeegee with a clean, dry towel at the bottom of each pass. Alternatively, you can use a clean, lint-free towel or newspaper pages to dry the windows.
  6. For stubborn dirt and stains, including bird droppings, saturate thoroughly with vinegar and water and let stand for several minutes before drying. You can also try rubbing with a soft “scrubbie” sponge (like these Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges from Amazon), but do not use steel wool or harsh scrubbing cloths; these will scratch the window.
  7. Don’t neglect the window screens. Rinse with plain water, spray with a vinegar and water solution, then rinse again with plain water. Let dry thoroughly before replacing the screens on the windows.

Sometimes windows will be stained with mineral deposits, particularly in areas with hard water. There are several methods for cleaning windows marred by mineral deposits, but your best bet may be a commercial cleanser. For instance, CLR (available on Amazon) removes calcium, lime, and rust stains; simply follow the manufacturer directions when using.

Although cleaning windows can be a “pain,” it is worth it to be able to enjoy unobstructed views… and let the sun shine in!