How to Wash Windows and Get a Perfect, Streak - Free Shine Every Time

Washing windows sure isn't fun, but it's still important. Including regular cleanings as part of your annual home improvement checklist will ensure you always have a crystal clear view of the outdoors and the windows operate efficiently. Today, it's even easier to keep your windows clean and operating at their best, but don't think it's effortless. It's an art that takes practice.

If you've ever tried to clean glass, you already know there's a lot more to it than just rubbing the glass with a bit of window cleaner and paper towel. Large smears, streaks, dirt smudges and cloudy residue are all signs of improper cleaning.

Cleaning the Glass

Start cleaning the interior side of the glass with a premixed solution of one part white vinegar to 10 parts water and a soft, lint-free cloth, if you prefer a chemical-free solution. But for best results, use Ammonia-Free Windex® Glass and Surface Cleaner (clear liquid), or the Sparkle Glass Cleaner (purple liquid). When you're done the inside, use the same mixture and a good squeegee on the outside of the windows.

When cleaning, make sure to use generous amounts of cleaner to get the window as clean as possible. You can easily remove any remaining streaks by rinsing them with clear water. Windows covered in heavy dirt, grease, oil, tape adhesive, crayons or paint? Don't use a razor blade; it will only scratch the glass, use a mild abrasive such as Soft Scrub® (made by Clorox®) and a wet cloth. Then, wipe them clean and dry using a lint-free cloth and then clean them using the same procedure.

Cleaning Insect Screens

In most instances, you can remove dust and dirt from insect screens with a vacuum and an upholstery brush attachment. If they have grease spots (normally found on kitchen screens), just scrub them with a bit of hot water and mild detergent. Larger screens from things such as storm or patio doors should be removed before scrubbing them with soap and hot water or using a drapery brush attachment.

Bonus Window Cleaning Tips

Contrary to what many people believe, harsh cleaners with ammonia or alcohol aren't great on glass. They're famous for leaving leave streaks or a light film on glass that attracts moisture and dust. They'll also destroy fabric.

It's always safer (and easier) to clean the exterior side of your home's windows while you're standing indoors. Climbing up and down on a ladder isn't any fun, either, so why make the job harder than it has to be?

If you want to avoid all of that and stay safe, consider replacement windows with a tilt-in feature, usually found in styles such as double-hung windows. You might also want to consider casement windows with an extra wide opening between the sash and the frame.