Washing your windows is a tedious chore — so you want to make sure you get it right the first time. To avoid having to redo your work, we tapped from Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab to get her expert advice.
1. Choose a dry, cloudy day.
“Do this job in the blazing sun and the cleaner will dry onto the hot windows before you get to wipe it off, leaving hard-to-remove streaks,” Forte says. If the weather won’t cooperate, start on the shady side of the house.
2. Remove dirt and dust first.
Before you get started, sweep dirt from the window frame with a brush or vacuum it up with your machine’s dusting attachment. This will prevent dirt from turning into a muddy mess when mixed with a cleaner. If your window screen looks especially grimy, pop it out and wash with hot, sudsy water and a soft brush, then rinse and let dry before putting it back.
For quickly dusting blinds, Forte recommends going over both sides with a microfiber duster or opening the slats and going over each one with a damp cloth and followed by a dry one.
You can also refresh your curtains at the same time by putting them in the dryer for 15 minutes on an “air-only” cycle and rehanging quickly to prevent wrinkles.
3. Pick the right cleaner — and spritz generously.
Don’t hold back on the spray, especially if your windows look extra dirty. “You need plenty of cleaner to dissolve and suspend the dirt so it can be completely wiped away — skimp and you’ll be seeing streaks,” Forte says.
She recommends Invisible Glass Cleaner With EZ Grip. The fine mist from the bottle stays where you spray until you wipe it, meaning less drips and mess. Check out these other top-tested cleaners depending on the job too: Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
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If you rather go the DIY route, try whipping up this homemade vinegar cleaner:
Homemade Glass Cleaner
What you’ll need:
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol 70% concentration
Combine the ingredients and pour them in a spray bottle. If you have kids or pets, write the ingredients on the outside of the bottle for safety.
4. Use a microfiber cloth.
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Some folks like drying panes with newspaper, but you’re better off reusable microfiber cloths. “They are super absorbent, washable, and leave the glass shiny and streak-free,” Forte says.
Try Casabella Microfiber Glass Cloths, which have a special honeycomb texture to nab water spots, smudges, and dirt from mirrors and glass without scratching.
If you rather use paper towels, choose a brand that’s up to the task. Weak paper towels can shred and leave lint behind. In our last paper towel test, GH Seal Holder Bounty Regular held up the best when wet.
5. Skip the squeegee.
“Professional window cleaners swear by them, but you have to know how to use them right,” Forte says. “You squeegee down and where does the water go? On the floor.”
Because of the potential mess and drip factor, she avoids using squeegees, especially for small panes, but they can be more helpful on bigger, picture windows.
6. Break it down.
You only need to clean your windows once or twice a year, Forte says, but it’s even easier if you divide the job up and do it room by room. When you’re cleaning, wipe one side of the window horizontally and the other vertically. If any streaks do form, you’ll easily know whether they’re on the outside or the inside.