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Tips for Cleaning Windows

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Windows, windows, windows, everywhere you look there are windows. Windows may appear to be clean but when the sun shines on them we get the true picture. Every little smudge, finger print or nose print shows. Window cleaning is a large task but can be simplified by using techniques and equipment made for doing windows.

A professional brass or stainless steel squeegee, available at janitorial supply stores is a helpful tool. Use a window cleaning solution, which contains ammonia, vinegar and/or a liquid dishwashing detergent. These work well if used sparingly. You may purchase these products or make them yourself. Too much chemical or soap solution causes streaks and leaves residue on the windows. Ammonia cuts heavy greasy soil and vinegar helps remove hard water spots.

Techniques for Cleaning Windows:

Wipe very dirty windows with a damp cloth. Don't rub dirt because it will scratch the glass. A vacuum cleaner with an attachment will work for this job, too. With a clean sponge or cloth lightly wet the window. Don't flood it! When using a squeegee, tilt at an angle to the glass, so only about one-inch of the rubber blade presses lightly against the top of the window glass. This will leave a dry area across the top of the window and stop drips from running down on your clean window. Wipe the blade of the squeegee with a damp cloth each time. A dry blade on dry glass will skip. Next place the squeegee horizontally in the dry area and pull down, lapping over the dry clean area each time. Continue until you have finished the window. Finish by wiping off the window sill. Windows can be cleaning from either side or from the top using this technique.

You may use a cloth or paper to clean also, use overlapping strokes so you cover all the window and don't miss spots.

Helpful Hints:

  • Don't clean windows in direct sunlight – the window may dry too fast and streak.
  • Exterior windows should be first be washed with a hose or clean water to remove grease and grime.
  • Wash windows side to side on the inside and up to down on the outside. If there are streaks, you will know which side they are on.
  • Change wash and rinse waters often.
  • Vacuum screen to remove dust, etc
  • Outside screens can be scrubbed with warm water and rinsed with clean water. Allow to air dry.
  • Squeegees do not work on textured or stained glass windows.
  • Choose a "hard" paper towel (soft ones leave lint) or cotton cloths such as old t-shirt or socks.

The new micro-fiber cloths work well for cleaning windows. Follow the instructions for use of the cloths. When washing micro-fiber cloths or towels do not use fabric softener as it reduces the absorbency.

Homemade Cleaners for Windows:

  • Mix two tablespoons of ammonia OR white vinegar with two quarts or warm water.
  • Mix one-half cup ammonia, one pint of 70 percent rubbing alcohol and one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent. Add enough water to make one gallon liquid.
  • Mix one tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent with one quart water.

Choose a time when you feel good and energetic to do windows, you will feel better and the job will go faster.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated April 2007 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180