Because you probably need to
Access to natural light can make or break a space. But before you move into the apartment with southern-facing gems, make sure you know how to clean windows. There’s a lot of research that suggests having plenty of access to sunlight is good for your health and happiness, but grime, buildup, and otherwise dirty windows can be a buzzkill when you’re trying to bask in that afternoon glow.
Dishes get scrubbed, clothes get washed, and floors get mopped, but all the while, windows hardly ever get cleaned. And that’s probably why your openings to the outside world are covered in a layer of dirt and maybe a few smudges, too. Thankfully, you don’t have to live with this obstructed view for long, because you’re the grownup who’s about to learn how to clean the really grimy windows of your home. Make this part of your spring-cleaning ritual and your windows will be clear and perfect in time for all that summer sunshine just around the corner. Below are simple cleaning tips so you can clean your windows like a pro.
Grab your supplies
No matter what type or how many windows your home has, your artillery of window cleaning products will be pretty similar. However, you do have a few options for how you stock your supplies. At a minimum, you’ll want some kind of cleaning solution and a way to wipe the windows until they sparkle.
For a DIY window cleaning solution:
If you’re all about that 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.
For a hassle-free 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. Just try to avoid glass cleaners that are ammonia or alcohol based, as these may leave streaks or light films that attract more dust down the road.
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 or wipe. 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 your 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.
For the inside of windows
Once you’ve got your cleaning tools, it’s time to do some minor prep before you get started on the actual cleaning. Similar to sweeping your floors before mopping, you want to get rid of any dust or particles on the glass before you go in with wet products. Gently wiping a dry microfiber cloth, a lint-free cloth, or a duster across the glass should do the trick. Don’t forget to dust the frame and windowsill while you’re at it.
Next, spray your solution, then take your microfiber cleaning cloth and wipe in Z-shaped motions to dry and clean the windows.
If you need more cleaner than a spray bottle can give, use a plastic bucket with warm water and a few drops of dish soap (or your vinegar solution) and a squeegee to wipe up soapy water with long, even swirls starting from top to bottom.
Don’t be surprised if you need to do more than one round of cleaning, since dirt may have been on your windows for years. Take your time, and enjoy how meditative that sweeping squeegee motion can be.
For the outside of windows
Exterior windows often get dirtier than the inside panes since they’re exposed to rain, dirt, and other elements. To get rid of water spots and other stains, start by rinsing the window down with your hose. Mix your vinegar or soap solution in a bucket, then use a sponge mop or microfiber cloth to go over the glass. Rinse again with the hose then use a squeegee to dry the window. It’s best to start from the top of the window with the squeegee blade angled toward the bottom.
Lastly, remember that window screens should be cleaned, too. Spray soap and water on them, and they’ll dry naturally.
For high-rise or apartment windows
Don’t think that just because you live in an apartment or other building with high-rise windows you can’t have glistening windows like everyone else. Start by seeing if you can remove your panes from their frames. If so, then all you need to do is pop them out, line them up, and scrub them down.
It can be an acrobatic feat to clean windows that can’t be moved, and no one is asking for you to scale a building so that yours can gleam. Instead of stretching your arms to wipe down tilted windows, or trying to figure out how to manage others that can’t be moved, opt for this gliding cleaner to remove dirt with ease. A strong magnet keeps the outer piece in place as you move it across the pane, making for an almost effortless process. Just make sure you buy the right one for the thickness of your windows.
If you don’t feel safe cleaning your windows solo—or you’d rather use that time on something else—that’s not a problem. Either ask your neighbors or landlord if there’s a professional cleaning service nearby that you can hire, or seek out that pro yourself.
Article by Kelly Dawson and Katherine McLaughlin
Source: How to Clean Windows Safely & Easily | Architectural Digest | Architectural Digest