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Last updated: 12 January 2024

How to Clean Windows

Are you looking for the best way to clean windows? We’ve got the perfect solution for you! We’ve gathered all the necessary tricks and tips from window experts, professional cleaners, and homeowners to give you the best advice on sparkling your windows.

We’ve outlined each step, from the must-dos to the don’ts! Our guide will help you achieve the same amazing exterior and interior window results.

Preparation Tips

1. Understand your windows.
The first thing to do is to determine what type of windows you have. Whether single-glazed, double-glazed, or triple-glazed, each type will require different care and attention.

The best rule to remember is that the more glass there is, the more time and care you should take.

2. Inspect windows and seals for damage.
Before you clean, inspect the windows and seals for any visible damage. Examine the areas around the edges for any signs of deterioration.

Windows with double or triple glazing are safeguarded with sealant around the perimeter, preventing air and moisture from infiltrating between the glass panes and forming condensation or causing a foggy appearance. If there are any cracks or gaps, the space between the glass will be exposed.

If you notice any damage to your windows’ glazing, it can impact their heat retention capacity and the overall look of the panes. You should promptly address the problem by repairing or replacing the window.

Window Glazing Double Single Triple

3. Choose the right time of day
Nearly every expert we spoke to, from trained cleaners to experienced homeowners, agreed that the time of day you clean your windows is super important. 

It’s recommended not to clean windows on hot, sunny days or when the sun shines directly on the glass. 

Cleaning expert John Larson from BestCleaningTools, told us:

Choose a cloudy day or early morning or late evening to clean your windows, as direct sunlight can cause the cleaning solution to dry too quickly and leave streaks.

So, to avoid smears and spots from any water or solution drying up too quickly, clean your windows on a cloudy, mild day or when the windows are naturally shaded.

4. Check for small cracks or damage.

There is a risk that if you have double-glazed windows with any damage or small cracks, these can expand and contract with temperature changes. If you get the product in these cracks, it can cause more extensive damage to your windows.

You should always check for damage before cleaning and avoid applying solutions in direct sunlight, which can warm the glass and increase the risk of further damage.

Dust Windows

5. Prepare your windows before cleaning.
Before cleaning, remove any dust from the windows, frames, and sills. This can be done using a damp cloth, a soft-bristled brush, or a vacuum cleaner.

Removing any dirt, debris, or cobwebs can prevent streaks and smudges from appearing as you clean. Moreover, it will ensure your cleaning implements are free of harsh materials.

6. Check and clean sealant. 
Check for dirt accumulation or mould development in the window frames and sills.

For an effective clean, use warm, sudsy water (but don’t go overboard). If you come across mould, investing in a specialised cleaning product to prevent its return is a good idea. Another option is to scrub it away and then use an antibacterial solution to maintain a clean and healthy atmosphere.

7. Cover or repair any sealant cracks or problem areas.
If youfind significant damage to your sealant, you should get this repaired. Minor harm can be managed by covering it up or filling in visible gaps before applying any cleaning solutions or fluid.

This will reduce the likelihood of cleaning solutions seeping under the sealant and further damaging the internal structure of double or triple-glazed windows.

8. Clean blinds or window shutters first.
Start by taking care of the blinds and window shutters. It is essential to clean these before the windows to prevent any dirt from transferring onto them. Vacuuming, dusting, or wiping them down will help keep your windows clean.

Getting rid of pollen, dust and pet dander by cleaning the blinds, window screens, and frames can help decrease the potential health risks for those living in the house who have allergies.

9. Use a lint roller to de-fuzz screens
Use a lint roller to remove fuzz from blinds or window screens. This is an excellent tip for fast, regular cleaning. For more extensive cleaning, wash them with soap and water.

Cleaning Solutions

10. Choose the right cleaning solution.
There are many options to choose from, so be sure you pick the right one for the windows you have.

Hugo Guerrero, a Certified House Cleaning Technician from Mattressive, gave us this top tip:

There are many commercial window cleaning solutions available, or you can make your own using a mixture of water and white vinegar or dish soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or ammonia-based cleaners as they can damage the glass.

11. Use a shop-bought cleaning product.
An effortless way to tackle the window cleaning task is to buy a product designed specifically for it. Numerous options are available, so you can pick whatever appeals to you. Just remember to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any mishaps.

Window Cleaning Products

12. Create your cleaning solution.
This is a great idea for those who are careful about their environmental impact or wish to avoid single-use plastics.

You can try a few things to create your formula. White vinegar is a popular ingredient in window cleaning products. It’s tough on grease and grime and minimizes streaks.

Use equal parts water with vinegar and mix in a bucket or put into a spray bottle for easy use.

Many people we asked recommended using white vinegar, as it’s a natural cleaning solution, relatively cheap, and works perfectly on all glass surfaces.

Michelle Giordano from Live Another Day, highly recommends this option:

This solution is effective for cleaning windows and is also environmentally friendly. Avoid using commercial window cleaners as they can contain harsh chemicals that can damage your windows and the environment.

Hot Water Window Cleaning

13. DO NOT use hot water.
Aside from potentially burning yourself, using very hot water can also damage the windows.

If hot water gets on your sealant, it can cause it to shrink and pull away from the window. As it cools,, it can also dry out the seal, leading to cracks or peeling – which is a big problem for double or triple glazing.

In addition, if the glass has any slight cracks or chips, which you may not have seen, hot water can seep in and cause further cracking.

Always use cold or lukewarm water if you make your own window cleaning solutions – it’s the safest choice.

14. Avoid lemon juice or essential oils.
Although lemon juice and essential oils are sometimes recommended as natural cleaning agents, they are unsuitable for cleaning windows. They can leave marks and streaks on the glass, making cleaning difficult and reducing its clarity.

15. Test your solution before cleaning.
Further advice from our group of experts recommended testing your chosen solution in a small, hidden area first. That way, you can be sure it won’t damage your windows before spraying it on every window pane.

Clean Windows Soapy Water

16. Avoid ammonia or alcohol-based cleaners.
We received lots of expert input telling us that solutions that contain ammonia or alcohol are best avoided.

This is because ammonia can break down the sealant around the window panes, causing it to become brittle and crack. Once cracks occur, they can lead to numerous issues and damage the effectiveness and appearance of your windows.

Furthermore, these harsh cleaners are tougher to dilute, so they can leave behind unsightly marks on the glass.

17. Choose mild solutions.
If in doubt, opt for a milder window cleaner, such as dish soap and water. These are made for gentle cleaning and will not damage your seals or glass, they won’t cost as much as some of the higher-end products.

(Just remember to avoid getting any liquid near cracks and gaps! And get those repaired as soon as possible).

18. Try distilled water.
Some of our experienced cleaners told us that using distilled water instead of tap water was a game changer.

If you live in an area with hard water, you might have more trouble with water leaving spots, or mineral deposits, on the glass. To prevent this, you can try using distilled water instead. For many of our experts, this eliminated all spots and left their windows sparkling!

19. Extra grime and dirty windows? Try these.
If you’re cleaning filthy windows and a mild solution isn’t working, try these next few tips.

Baking Soda How to Clean Windows

20. Baking soda.
As baking soda has some abrasive qualities, it can gently but effectively scrub away heavy build-up on windows. It is recommended you do this technique before you start to clean your windows normally to remove any stubborn grime.

To do this, wet a microfiber cloth and sprinkle the baking soda onto it. Using small, circular motions, gently clean the window surface until the dirt is removed.

After wiping off the baking soda, use another damp cloth to begin your full window cleaning – which should now be much easier!

21. Cornstarch.
This tip was a singular recommendation, but it got such high praise we couldn’t ignore it.

One homeowner told us that using a mix of cornstarch and water can leave your windows so clear, clean (and streak-free) that they will look like they had just been installed.

So, if you’re struggling with other products letting you down, perhaps this is the answer.

Tips on Tools

22. What is the ideal type of cloth for window cleaning?
Almost unanimously, our expert contributors had the same opinion – microfibre is the only option.

No matter the shape or size, these miracle clothes are invaluable for cleaning. They quickly and effectively remove dirt, absorb moisture and produce a shine on surfaces. You can utilise them for dusting, washing, or drying, and they will not fail to impress.

These cloths are popular because they won’t deposit any fibres or fluff on glass surfaces, and they absorb water, minimising the amount of drips.

You can find these clothes fairly cheap in most stores, and usually in large multi-packs, so there will be plenty to do every window in the house.

Tools to Clean Windows

23. Chamois.
Second only to a microfibre cloth is a chamois. These are mostly known for buffing up cars to look super shiny, so they’re also a great choice for drying and clarifying windows.

24. AVOID rags, newspaper, tissue and paper towels.
This may be surprising, but nearly everyone we asked said the same: Avoid these materials when drying off water or products from your glass.

Rags and paper towels can make more of a mess when cleaning windows, and newspapers can leave residue from inks and printing that can cause smears.

25. Sponges
When cleaning windows with a sponge, ensure it is soft and has no hard edges or fibres that could cause scratches. Doing this could result in significant harm to the glass.

26. Squeegees
One suggestion that came up numerous times during our research was using squeegees.

When it comes to cleaning windows, squeegees are the go-to tool. They come in various shapes and sizes and typically have a rubbery blade that makes pushing water away from the glass easy. The name ‘squeegee’ is derived from the squeezing action used to remove water from a surface.

This makes them the hero of streak-free windows and eliminates the hard work of trying to dry large windows quickly. (We’ll cover how best to use your squeegee in our ‘techniques’ section.)

You can also buy mop-head or cloth-head squeegees, which most professional window cleaners use. However, these are made specifically for cleaning and are different from those made for removing water.

Cleaning Window Outside

27. Specialist equipment?
If you look up window cleaning equipment, you will find many strange and wonderful tools available. Nevertheless, the majority of them are quite costly.

You can purchase various window cleaning supplies, from water vacuums to special buckets and multi-packs of extendable squeegees constructed from diverse materials. These tools can be practical. However, our research uncovered only a few comments from homeowners or technicians that expensive or complex equipment was necessary to get great results.

It’s possible to clean windows in your house using simple utensils and a lot of effort (and maybe a little assistance from cooperative helpers…).

Top Techniques

28. Start from the top.
Our cleaning experts recommend starting from the top of the window and working your way down for maximum efficiency.

Michelle from Live Another Day reports that: 

This will prevent streaks from running down the window and will make it easier to see if there are any spots or streaks that need to be re-cleaned.

29. Keep your supplies nearby.
Having your bucket, rags, and other implements close at hand makes it simpler to dunk, swab, or rinse as you progress.

30. Apply a cleaning solution.
Various ideas were expressed on this topic. Some propose spraying the solution directly onto the glass, while others indicate it should be used on the cloth first. Whatever system you use, you should do what is best for you.

The method you choose to use when cleaning windows will depend on your preferred starting point. It could entail dipping a sponge, fibre squeegee, or cloth into a solution or using a spray bottle to moisten the window or the cloth.

No matter your technique, these tips should help you achieve a perfect, spotless outcome.

31. Don’t use too much!
Excessive product or water may result in a messy, streaky finish. Additionally, if your surface is protected with sealant, it could be damaged.

Do not use too much product when cleaning your windows; focus on one area at a time. If a spill or drop occurs, use a dry cloth to absorb the liquid and buff the glass.

32. Avoid heavy pressure.
When performing window cleaning, it is important not to apply heavy pressure. Even if the windows are extremely dirty, it is best to take your time and be careful.

33. If you use a cloth or sponge:
You can spray the cleaning solution onto a cloth and then clean the glass from the top of your window in a circular pattern, from left to right and down.

Window Cleaning Squeegee

34. If you use a squeegee:
For those with a squeegee with a fibre top, you can submerge it into your cleaning solution. After it’s wet (but not overly wet), start at the top of the window and wipe from side to side.

Once you have wiped the window, you should use a rubber squeegee to push the water away in the same direction. Ensure you clean the squeegee blade with a cloth between each wipe so you don’t spread the water.

35. Don’t leave the solution on too long.
Be careful not to let any product stay on the window for too long, as this can cause water spots and discolourations, making cleaning more difficult.

Work through your windows steadily, but only attempt to do a few simultaneously. Give yourself the time you need, but don’t linger.

36. Rinse/remove all products.
Be sure to completely wash off any remaining cleaning agent before proceeding to the drying or buffing step, as any residual product may cause streaks when it dries.

37. Remove all water/solution.
Once you have cleaned your windows well, removing any remaining drops of liquid as much as possible is important.

A rubber squeegee is the most effective tool for this task. Run the blade from the top of the window and drag it downwards. Make sure to wipe the squeegee clean afterwards and move it until the entire window is complete.

To remove all excess water or product, you should empty the container. To ensure that any remaining moisture is removed, a clean microfibre cloth can be used to wipe the window. This will help you spot any leftovers that may be invisible to the naked eye.

38. Clean the corners and edges.
Pay attention to the corners and edges. Remember to scrub and rinse them off, and then completely dry these areas with a dry towel or chamois.

39. Dry the window.
You should have removed a lot of the moisture with the squeegee; however, to ensure that streaks are avoided, there are still some steps to take.

Clean Window Drying

Using a dry microfiber cloth or chamois, wipe down any remaining water from the edges of the windows. If any water spots remain, you can buff up the glass with your microfiber cloth.

A useful technique for speeding up the drying process of a window and sill is opening the windows to allow a breeze to pass through.

40. Got streaks?
With these helpful hints, streaks don’t end up being an issue. But if they do, don’t fret. A microfiber cloth can always be used to erase the streaks. It is suggested that a polishing motion in a circular pattern is used to remove any unsightly marks.

Other Factors to Consider

41. Clean your window tracks
If you have an opening window, it’s a good idea also to clean the tracks between the window and the sills.

Dirt, pollen, dust and even mould can build up in these spaces. A small brush, like a toothbrush or an electric scrubber, should be used to clean them away.

Having cleaner tracks contributes to a more efficient workflow and also provides health benefits.

42. Inside or Out?
What do I do? Clean both sides! Pay attention to the window’s inner and outer sides for a better outcome.

The accumulation of the most dirt can block the line of sight and the flow of light, and this dirt tends to collect on the outside of the window more than the inside.

If you cannot do it yourself, consider hiring a professional window cleaner to complete the job.

Professional Window Cleaner

43. Cleaning at elevations
Safety should be paramount to clean windows at a higher point. It is never advisable to stretch out of windows to access challenging regions.

Before using a ladder, understand how it functions and have someone nearby to assist.

If you need guidance, hiring a professional cleaning service is best. However, if you’re ambitious, you can purchase an extendable cleaning tool to access hard-to-reach windows.

44. Stubborn stains or sticky spots?
Are there any stubborn stains or sticky spots on your windows? If so, there is an answer! Whether from stubborn stains or decorations for a special event, a solution is available.

An expert suggested saturating a paper towel with white vinegar and utilising it on the adhesive area. This approach should remove any residual build-up and make the window look as good as new with a more focused and direct application.

45. Maintain the sparkle
To make the most of your efforts, clean your windows every few months. This will help prevent dirt and mould accumulation and keep the windows looking amazing throughout the year.

Full window washing into your cleaning routine can be supplemented by regularly dusting with a dry microfiber cloth.

Our research has revealed that there are numerous approaches to window cleaning. It depends on personal preference, from squeegee to cloth, DIY cleaner to store-bought. The important thing is to take the time to get to know your windows and maintain them regularly so you can keep enjoying beautiful views for a long time.

Becky Mckay
Written by Becky Mckay, Writer

Becky is an experienced SEO content writer specialising in sustainability and renewable trends. Her background in broadcast journalism inspires reliable content to help readers live more sustainably every day.

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