Work on a cloudy day
Direct sunlight can cause your cleaner to dry and 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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Clean the frame first
A lot of grime can hide in the window tracks and frame, and when mixed with window cleaner, it 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 wipe away any remaining residue with a wet rag.
Make your own soap
Skip the specialty products and make your own cleaning solution using a mix of water and dish soap, which 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 cleaner.
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Paper is bad news
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 (like these from Amazon) to do the job instead; it will grab dirt and dust and leave nothing behind.
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Invest in a squeegee
The best way to ensure a streak-free shine is to make sure all the water and soap are removed from the window. Use a rubber-bladed squeegee tool to run over the glass from top to bottom to scrape away excess water.
Reach the top with a mop
For high exterior windows, use a sponge mop on a pole to clean with soapy water. Rinse the washed windows with a hose, and 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.
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If you live in a climate that gets a lot of rain, you may want to try a rain-repellent treatment for your windows. More commonly used on car windshields, these specialty spray products cause water to bead up and roll off windows more easily, leading to fewer stains.
Defuzz screens with a lint roller
For everyday maintenance, you can use a sticky lint roller to remove dust and dirt from your window screens. For a deep cleaning, pop the screens off the window and rinse with soap and water.
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Grab a Magic Eraser
While you need to pop the screens out for a more thorough cleaning, you can keep the grime in check with the occasional wipe down. Just use an eraser pad (you can pick up a package from Target) for a quick scrub in between deep cleanings.
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Double up on supplies
Have separate cleaning tools for the inside and outside of the window. Both sides of the window will be dirty, but especially the outside with pollen and bird droppings. Rather than using the same microfiber cloth, keep things fresh by having extras on hand.
Avoid streaks by mixing up the motion you’re cleaning the window. Start with small circular motions and then finish off with a few horizontal and vertical swipes.
Erase away streaks
Don’t despair if after all is said and done and you notice a few streaks. Just take a clean chalkboard eraser and gently run it over the window to buff away marks for sparkling clean finish.
Clean the blinds with tongs
While you’re cleaning the windows, it’s a good idea to address the treatments at the same time. Whether you have blinds, curtains, or shades they’re magnets for dust, dirt, pollen, and pet hair. For blinds, take a pair of tongs from the kitchen and wrap microfiber cloths around each side securing them with rubber bands. Now you can efficiently clean each individual blind with a quick swipe.
Vacuum the curtains
Grab the vacuum and its upholstery or slim nozzle attachment to tackle the curtains. The appliance will suck up the grime, so it doesn’t get your freshly cleaned windows dirty.
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It’s a good practice to wash the inside and outside of your windows twice a year, in the fall and spring, to prevent buildup of tough mineral deposits from rain. The more you put it off, the deeper set the stains become and they more you'll need to rely on harsher chemicals for removal.
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Follow these tips and you'll have sparkling clean windows in no time.
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