Plus some tried-and-true tips for achieving a window that looks like it’s not even there.
There is no greater time suck than inefficiently cleaning your windows. And yet, we all know the feeling of vigorously washing them, only to back away and see a trail of smudges and streaks. At best you’ve blown ten minutes and at worst you end up throwing the towel away, never to pick it up again, leaving your dirty windows for dead. It doesn’t have to be this way. Actually, there are a few tricks to cleaning your windows, starting with the very cleaner you’re using. Trust us when we say, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or effort to find the perfect one. The components to a very effective DIY window cleaner are likely sitting just feet away from each other in your kitchen, waiting to join together in holy matrimony.
Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar is a hero to many dingy places in your home— dirty grout, calcified coffee makers, and sticky cabinets to name a few. Your dirty windows bear no exception. The highly acidic components in vinegar make it great at cutting through oily fingerprints and city grime, as well as clearing off those pesky bird droppings and dead bugs.
Liquid dish soap: You know it best as the agent that rids your dinner plates of sticky lasagna and melted cheese, but quality liquid dish soap is actually a powerful ingredient in a DIY window cleaner. The fatty substances in liquid dish soap like Dawn power through tough grease and grime like a champ, leaving behind nothing but shine.
Water: It’s important to mix your cleaning products with tap water to effectively dilute them. (Note: When cleaning anything with highly concentrated soap, be sure to wipe off any remaining soapy residue with clean water afterward to avoid build up or soap scum.)
Essential oils: While vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent, it’s not always the most appealing scent. For that reason, we recommend using some drops of your favorite essential oils, though this step is completely optional. Any scent is fine, so should you want your cleaner to smell like the rainforest, be our guest. We go for citrus, which most people seem to associate with clean places.
That’s really all it takes to make a powerful and effective window cleaner. (Hint: it’s also great on mirrors!) Now that you’ve got that down, it’s always good to brush up on how to actually clean your mirrors, and for that, we’ve got five amazing tips to get you on your way.
Take it from us, waiting for a cloudy day to attack your streaky windows is the right way to go. You’ll be able to spot smudges and streaks way easier, eliminating that follow up feeling the next day that you wasted your time.
If it’s just dust that’s obstructing your view, use a microfiber cloth to wipe your windows. The soft, synthetic fibers will wipe away the dust without leaving a streak of lint like paper towels or napkins. It’s a good idea to store a stack of microfiber towels in the house. They’re perfect for windows, yes, but also for countertops, stainless steel appliances, and even pots and pans. Another option is to grab your Swiffer duster and give your windows a once over. Its specially coated fibers bend and flex to grab onto dust, making it perfect for those nooks and crannies, like the door handle or the window locks.
Unlike other surfaces in your home, windows are two-sided. Missing a spot or failing to dry off an area means you have to figure out which side the mess is on. To help troubleshoot this problem, wipe down each side of your window using a different motion. For example, wipe the inside of your window with a side to side motion and the outside with an up and down motion. Doing this will allow you to spot any blemishes faster. Pretty clever, eh?
Somewhere along the line, a rumor circulated that using newspapers to clean windows was a good idea. “Not so!” say our experts. Newspapers don’t do a great job at removing streaks and actually leave behind a thin coating from the ink. Best to save newspapers for news and reach for a microfiber cloth instead.
Ever been somewhere when a window cleaner popped up in your window? The very fact that they spend their days suspended in high places gives them street cred. According to those experts, the secret is in the squeegee. They insist this tool is the only way to get a truly clear result. If you’d like to go the pro route, turn your squeegee sideways so that the cleaning solution runs down the window and not across your tool.
There’s not much to do about the gradual accumulation of fingerprints, rainwater, splatters, and grime on your windows. They’re just a part of life. Thankfully, addressing these culprits is easy. Following these procedures and tips will ensure that you’re never wasting your precious time cleaning your windows with virtually no results, or worse, more dismal ones. Now, get to cleaning, friends! Your views will thank you.