Access to natural light can make or break a space. But a room with southern-facing gems won’t shine if you don’t know how to clean windows properly. Not only will your space look better with sunlight streaming in, research suggests that sunny rays positively influence your health and happiness. Alternatively, grime, buildup, and otherwise dirty windows are a buzzkill when you’re trying to bask in that afternoon glow.
Perhaps your cleaning energy is taken up by running the dishwasher, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping floors, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the smudges on glass windows. Thankfully streak-free panes are part of the spring cleaning routine and you won’t have to live with dust, grime, and buildup much longer. Below are simple cleaning tips so you can clean your windows like a pro.
What is the best thing to clean windows with?
No matter what type or how many windows your home has, your arsenal of window cleaning products will be pretty similar. “Grab a soft towel or microfiber cloth, a vinegar-based glass cleaner, and a small squeegee if you prefer, and you are ready to go,” says Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at Two Maids. Here, three cleaning products that tackle dirty windows.
1. A DIY white vinegar window cleaning solution
If you’re all about the DIY life, we’ve got just the thing for you. Combine two parts water with one part white vinegar in a spray bottle and you’ll be all set with a homemade window cleaner. You can also combine warm water with a few drops of dishwashing soap if you prefer. Invest in a glass spray bottle to mix up your formula.
2. A store-bought cleaner
If you’d rather go the store-bought route, there are plenty of commercial window cleaning solutions or sprays, like Windex, on the market, and many will work really well for your window washing. Cohoon recommends a vinegar-based cleanser, which won’t damage hardware or stain curtain or drapes. Likewise, if you’re going the store-bought route, try to avoid glass cleaners that are ammonia or is alcohol-based, as these may leave streaks or light films that attract more dust down the road. Eco-friendly and plant-based glass cleaners like Safely tackle smudges and leave the surface streak-free. Bonus: The floral scent will linger for hours, leaving your room smelling like a bouquet.
3. Wiping supplies
Whether you’re going the DIY or store-bought route for the cleaning solution, the best way to wipe down your windows is with a clean microfiber cloth. This is key for streak-free windows. Squeegees can also work well if you’re putting lots of water on the windows—just avoid paper towels as they can leave lint films all over the glass windows. For outside windows, grab a broom just in case there are any cobwebs or sticks on the window frame that may need to be knocked down.
Another simple trick: It’s never a bad idea to place a bath or beach towel underneath the window before getting started. This will catch any excess water, drips, or spills and keep you from making another mess while you try to clean.
How to Clean Windows in 3 Easy Steps
Step 1: Wipe away dust
Once you’ve got the cleaning tools, prep the window frame before you get started on the actual cleaning. “If you notice excess pet hair, dust, or build up, dry dust windows gently with a feather duster to remove build up without scratching the glass,” Cohoon says. It’s good to have a surface free of debris and particles before you go in with a wet product, much like you would prep the floor surface before you mop. Also, don’t forget to dust the windowsill, especially if you see some small cobwebs in the corners of the window frame.
Step 2: Spray the glass window with a DIY or store-bought
It may be tempting to spritz the glass cleaners all over the place, but you don’t want to apply too much. Start at the top of the dirty window, spray once or twice to start, then take the microfiber cleaning cloth and wipe in Z-shaped motions to dry. Work your way down to the windowsill.
You can also skip the spray bottle altogether and use a plastic bucket with warm water and a few drops of Dawn dish soap (or the white vinegar solution) and wipe up soapy water with long, even swirls starting from top to bottom. “If you have larger windows, you can also use a squeegee,” Cohoon says. “Spray cleaner across the window surface and squeegee dry, wipe down the squeegee in between swipes.” Make sure you have plenty of absorbent microfiber cloths on hand to prevent water spots.
Depending on whether your windows get frequent TLC or only see cleaning products during your annual spring cleaning shenanigans, you may need to go over the pane a few times before you’re looking at the best window it can be. Take your time and enjoy the meditative motions of a the squeegee blade.
Step 3: Clean exterior windows
It makes sense that with snow, rain, and wind-blown dirt, exterior windows have more grime than the panes inside your house. To clean outside windows in the best way possible, you need to do some prep. Take out the window screens, and wash them separately. You can use a solution of dish soap and hot water, then scrub gently with a sponge. Hose down with clean water.