16 Tips for Your Cleanest Windows Ever

Do you put off washing your windows because the task is tedious and time-consuming? There are better, faster ways to get the job done.
Woman cleaning windows

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Are you tired of looking through smudged, streaky windows that you can never seem to get clean? While achieving that perfect, streak-free finish can be challenging, especially if you have tough-to-reach windows, the right tools and techniques can really help. Before you let this task sink to the bottom of your to-do list, note that clean windows are not just a matter of aesthetics or curb appeal: Dirty windows don’t let in as much of the sun’s rays, which can affect your home’s energy efficiency. Regular window cleaning, including sills, screens, tracks, and hinges, will also keep your windows operating smoothly and can even improve indoor air quality.

To help you keep your windows squeaky-clean and smudge-free, try a few of these tips and you’ll be on your way to crystal-clear glass in no time.

1. Work on a cloudy day.

Person spraying cleaning solution on window

Direct sunlight can cause your window cleaning solution to evaporate before you can properly wash it away, leading to streaks that are tough to buff out. Overcast skies also reduce glare on the glass, making streaks easier to find.

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2. Clean the frame first.

Gloved hand cleaning window frame

A lot of grime can hide in the window tracks and frame. When mixed with window cleaner, that dirt may form an unsightly sludge that can drip onto the glass while cleaning. To remove the grit, use a toothbrush and a sprinkle of baking soda and vinegar to scrub inside the tracks, then use a wet rag to wipe away any remaining residue.

3. Make your own soap.

DIY cleaning supplies

Skip the specialty products and make your own cleaning solution using a mix of water and dish soap. This combo is tough enough to cut through grime on especially dirty windows, like those in the kitchen, yet won’t leave a residue. Alternatively, vinegar can also be used as an effective DIY window cleaner.

4. Avoid wiping with paper.

Using newspaper to clean window

Paper towels and newspapers are commonly misused as products for scrubbing and drying the glass, but they just break down and leave lint behind. Use a microfiber cloth to do the job instead; it will grab dirt and dust and leave nothing behind.

5. Invest in a squeegee.

Person using squeegee to clean window

The best way to obtain a streak-free shine is to make sure all the water and soap are removed from the window. Run over the glass from top to bottom with a rubber-bladed squeegee like Ettore’s 6-inch squeegee, a top pick in our guide to the best window squeegees, to scrape away excess water.

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6. Reach the top with a mop.

Using mop to clean window

To clean high windows, you may want to consider hiring a professional window cleaner. If you choose to clean them yourself, forget teetering on a telescoping ladder. Instead, use a telescoping sponge mop to clean with soapy water. Rinse the washed windows with a garden hose, and then use a dry mop or a squeegee fastened to an adjustable pole to remove the water and prevent water spots from drying to the glass surface.

7. Spray a car windshield rain repellent on your windows at home.

Rain drops rolling down window

If you live in a rainy climate, you may want to try a rain-repellent treatment like this 2-in-1 glass cleaner and rain repellent from Rain-X. More commonly used on car windshields, specialty spray products like these cause water to bead up and roll off windows more easily, leading to fewer stains.

8. Clean window screens with a lint roller.

Lint roller

For deep cleaning, pop the screens off the windows and rinse them with soap and water. If the screens are super dirty, scrub gently with a sponge or soft-bristle brush to get rid of accumulated grime or grease. For a lighter cleaning, leave the screens in place and use a sticky lint roller to remove dust and dirt.

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9. Use a Magic Eraser.

Red gloved hand wets magic eraser

If you don’t have time to remove the screens and there’s no lint roller around, you can keep screen grime in check with the occasional wipe down. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work great for a quick scrub in between deep cleanings.

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10. Double up on supplies.

Woman holding basket of cleaning supplies

It’s a good idea to have separate cleaning tools for the inside and outside of your windows. Both sides of the window will be dirty, but the outside is typically grimier and presents the added challenge of pollen and bird droppings. You should also have extra microfiber cloths on hand so you can switch them out as needed.

11. Change directions when wiping.

Gloved hands cleaning window with yellow towel

Avoid streaks by varying the direction in which you wipe while cleaning the windows. Start with small circular motions and then finish up with a few horizontal and vertical swipes.

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12. Erase away streaks.

Person holding board eraser

Notice a few streaks after you’re done washing the windows? For a flawless finish, run a clean chalkboard eraser gently over the window to buff away marks.

13. Wipe horizontal blinds with tongs.

Cleaning blinds with tongs

While you’re cleaning the windows, it’s a good idea to address the window treatments at the same time. Whether you have blinds, curtains, or shades, they’re all magnets for dust, dirt, pollen, and pet hair. To clean blinds quickly, take a pair of kitchen tongs and wrap microfiber cloths around each arm, securing them with rubber bands. Run this tool along every slat to clean top and bottom at the same time. Other blind cleaning hacks include dusting with an old sock, and dusting the blinds with dryer sheets, which help repel dust.

14. Vacuum the curtains.

Woman using vacuum on curtains

Use your vacuum’s upholstery or slim nozzle attachment to clean the curtains. The appliance will suck up the grime so it doesn’t get your freshly cleaned windows dirty.

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15. Clean the glass twice a year.

Woman cleaning window from outside

It’s good practice to wash the inside and outside of your windows twice a year, ideally in the fall and spring, to prevent buildup of tough mineral deposits from rain. The more you put this task off, the deeper set the stains become, forcing you to resort to harsher chemicals for removal.

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16. Try using a coffee filter.

Stack of coffee filters

Coffee filters have several qualities that make them ideal for window cleaning: They’re lint-free, so they won’t leave behind any residue. They’re also an inexpensive staple in many kitchens. The next time you spray on your glass cleaner, wipe the windows with a coffee filter. Depending on how absorbent your filters are, you may need to use more than one at a time.