Picture this: You’ve made fabulous plans to spend a Saturday with friends and family doing one of your favorite activities. You’ve been waiting all week for this, checking the weather every hour to ensure your plans don’t go awry.
The day has come. You see shadows cast across your home, indicating the sun is shining and the day will be as perfect as you imagined. You get up, walk to the closest window, open the curtains, and BAM….all you see is dirt and grime on your window glass.
Day = Ruined.
Cleaning your home’s windows is a chore most forget about and dread when they realize their windows are due for a shine. But you don’t want your days to be ruined by dirty windows ever again.
Whether cleaning your windows is something you generally don’t do or every time you clean them, they don’t get quite clean enough, you’re looking for the best way to clean your windows and helpful tips and tricks to get them sparkling brand new.
Lucky for you, we’ve got the answers.
Here’s what you’ll need to get your windows to shine with a streak-free finish:
1 soft-scrubbing sponge
Warm water and dish soap
1 small bucket
Window cleaner (homemade or store-bought)
Microfiber cloths or towels
Cotton swabs or cotton balls
Let’s go through the step-by-step process on the best way to clean your windows and some helpful tips to get the best results.
The last thing you want when spending your time and energy on window cleaning is not getting the desired results.
With these five steps, your windows will be so clean it won’t even look like the glass is there.
Step 1: Dust Windows First
Before using any liquid detergents on your windows, you want to remove as much dry debris as you can. This will make removing any built-up grime on the window frame and glass easier once you dive in with your liquid cleaner.
Using a dusting rag, start at the top of each window frame and carefully wipe away the dust. Work your way down the sides of the window, the top of the sashes, and around the bottom of the sill.
Tip: You can also use a dust buster, handheld vacuum, or vacuum cleaner attachment with bristle brushes to easily dust around your windows for a better clean.
Step 2: Prepare Your Cleaning Mixtures
Next, it’s time to prepare the cleaning mixtures you’ll be using to clean the window frames and glass.
For the frame, using warm water and dish soap is a simple solution to use. You can also add a splash of your favorite disinfectant solution for added cleaning, though this isn’t necessary. (Wearing gloves is advised when dealing with soap and chemical substances.)
For the glass, you can also use your warm water and soapy solution. However, there is no shame in using store-bought window cleaners that come in a spray bottle.
Other homemade window cleaning solutions can be made with water, white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. These solutions are great if you don’t want to use harsh chemicals around your home or don’t want to run to the store to buy another cleaning solution.
Tip: Using distilled water in your glass cleaning solution will help prevent residue or streaking tap water can leave behind. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to customize your cleaning solution and give your windows a fresh scent.
Step 3: Clean Window Frame, Sills, And Hardware
Now that you’ve got your cleaning solutions ready, it’s time to start with the window frame and hardware first. This is where your soapy water, soft scrub sponge, and cotton swabs will come into play.
For a more detailed cleaner, start by using your cotton swabs or cotton balls, dipping them into your cleaning solution, and cleaning the small areas around your window hardware. Using cotton swabs, especially the ones with pointed tips, will help you get any built-up grime in and around the hardware and help them last longer.
(But that step isn’t necessary if you don’t have much time to spend cleaning your windows.)
Take your sponge, dip it into your cleaning solution, and squeeze out the access. Then, you can start scrubbing along your window frame, sills, and around the hardware. You don’t want to squeeze out too much of the solution, but you also don’t want water getting everywhere.
The soft scrub sponge will collect any leftover dust, oil residue from use, and any dirt that’s accumulated over the years. Don’t forget the window sill!
Once your frame is cleaned to your satisfaction, use a microfiber towel to wipe up the access liquid and finish the job.
Tip: If your windows haven’t been cleaned in decades or have a lot of buildup, gently using a hard-scrubbing sponge or tool will help loosen the dirt. Then, you can wipe it away with a soft sponge to finish the job.
Step 4: Clean Window Glass
You’ve set a good foundation for sparkling windows by getting the frame, hardware, and sills in order. Now it’s time to get to the main event.
Using either the same cleaning solution to clean your frames or a store-bought cleaner, dip your soft scrub sponge or microfiber towel into the solution and start scrubbing. (This is why it is important to use a soft scrubbing material so you can gently remove any buildup without scratching your window glass.)
Starting with warm water and dish soap is a great first step to removing any dirt, dust, water stains, or other grime that has accumulated on your windows, both inside and out.
If you want your windows to have extra shine, you can go in with a heavier-duty window cleaner, like Windex, to ensure your windows will sparkle.
Tip: To minimize streaking from the cleaner as much as possible, wipe downwards once you’ve scrubbed that buildup off. This will help eliminate any streaks in willy-nilly patterns that appear once your windows are dry.
Step 5: Wipe Your Windows Dry
The final step to getting sparkling window glass is to ensure your windows are completely dry with minimal to no streaking.
Although the best practice for no streaks is to wipe downwards when cleaning, you may want to go over your glass again with a dry or slightly damp microfiber towel to get the clearest result possible.
If you notice some cleaning residue or streaks on your windows after they’ve been cleaned, take a fresh microfiber towel and mist it with water. Then, wipe downwards from top to bottom of the glass to remove residue and create a seamless shine.
Once your windows are completely dry and streak-free, you’ve got yourself a crystal clear view of the outside world.
Tip: Cleaning your windows on a cloudy or overcast day helps minimize streaks during the cleaning process. On bright, sunny days, the water and cleaning solution will dry faster before you have time to wipe away the streaks.
Do Your Windows Need More Than Just A Good Cleaning?
Now you know the five simple steps to getting sparkling clean window glass. With these tips, you can clean the inside and outside of your windows, patio doors, or other door windows in one afternoon.
Cleaning your windows is the perfect time to take a close look at them and inspect them for any problems like
Leaking around the frame
Peeling, cracking, or insufficient caulk
Rotting around the frame
Any of these signs could mean your windows need more than just a good cleaning. They may need to be replaced.
Because Southwest Exteriors has helped thousands of homeowners replace their old windows since 1989, we’ve seen all you can see when it comes to broken windows overdue for a replacement.
Our expert design consultants can analyze and diagnose your windows’ problems during a free consultation. Then, our expert project managers and installation teams will ensure your new windows will fit properly, be installed with care, and look fabulous.
If you notice any problems with your windows while cleaning them, you may be wondering what exactly to look for to determine if it’s time for a replacement.