Clean Windows

Washing windows is generally a job that most people hate, because you have to battle with dirt, dripping water, wads of paper towel or newspaper, and annoying streaks. There are many techniques and methods that you can use to clean windows, and it can be difficult to know which one is the most effective. However, when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to look at how the professionals do it. After all, it’s their job to clean windows, and the quick and efficient method they use involves a bucket of cleaning solution, a scrubber or sponge, and a squeegee.


Pre-Cleaning Windows

  1. Clean stubborn stains. Outside windows are especially prone to stubborn stains because they are exposed to hard water runoff, minerals, bird droppings, and elements that can cake on dirt and grime. There are a few methods you can try to remove marks on inside or outside windows:
    • Use a mineral deposit removing cleaner, such as CLR. Dampen a sponge with cleaner and rub at the stains on the windows. Rinse the area with water and proceed with regular cleaning.[1]
    • Spray the affected area with pure vinegar and let it sit for at least five minutes. Use a sponge or cloth to rub the stain, and proceed with regular cleaning.[2]
    • Make a paste with water and a cleaner that contains oxalic acid, such as Zud or Bar Keepers Friend.[3] Apply the paste to the affected area with a clean cloth and give it a good rub. Rinse away the paste and clean normally.
  2. Remove stickers and decals. Whether you have children who love to decorate with stickers or applied decals to your windows to prevent birds from flying into them, removing sticky substances from windows can be difficult. However, all you really need is a spray bottle filled with water and a plastic scraper with a good edge.
    • Spray the stickers with water and let it sit for a couple minutes.
    • Hold the scraper against the window at a 45-degree angle and apply gentle pressure. Start below the stickers and scrape upwards to get underneath the stickers. Use a towel to wipe away the water.[4]
  3. Remove and clean the screens. For inside and outside windows, clean the screens every time you clean the windows, which should be twice a year. Remove the screens and vacuum them to remove dust and dirt.
    • With a clean cloth or sponge, wipe them down with warm water mixed with a splash of vinegar or dish soap. Allow the screens to air dry fully before replacing them.[5]
  4. Rinse away dirt and grime from outside windows. Outside windows are exposed to all manner of grease, dirt, pollutants, and other materials. For really dirty windows, start the cleaning process by using a garden hose to rinse away the top layer of grime from the windows and panes.[5]
    • If you don’t have a hose, use a lint-free cloth and water to wipe away some of the dirt.
  5. Vacuum or dust inside windows. Make sure you get all the windows, frames, and corners. This will prevent you from just spreading dirt around when you are cleaning.[6]
    • Before you start cleaning inside windows, lay a large towel down in front of the window to catch spills.

Cleaning Inside and Outside Windows

  1. Gather your supplies and tools. There are a few things you will need to perform a basic cleaning job on your windows, including a:
    • Sponge or brush (or a squeegee)
    • Rubber squeegee for drying
    • Absorbent microfiber or lint-free cloth
    • Clean cloth or rag
    • Bucket filled with cleaning solution
    • Large towel to protect inside floors
  2. Make your cleaning solution. There are a few different cleaners you can try for your windows, but most experts recommend a basic water and dish soap mixture. Using a spray bottle and paper towel or newspaper will just move dirt and cleaning solution around, leaving windows streaky and murky.[7] To make your window cleaner, you can mix:
    • Two gallons (7.6 liters) of water with one teaspoon (6 ml) of dishwashing liquid. [8]
    • Equal parts water and white vinegar.[9]
    • ¼ cup (60 ml) each of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon (15 g) cornstarch (to prevent streaks),[10] and 2 cups (480 ml) water.[11]
  3. Clean the windows. You can use a sponge for windows that have multiple small panes, and a squeegee for larger picture windows. Dip your sponge into the bucket of cleaner. Wring out the excess water and wipe down the entire window, being sure to get into all the corners.[3]
    • To clean high outside windows without a ladder, attach a squeegee or brush to an extension pole or broom handle.[12]
    • Once you clean a window, make sure you dry it before moving on to the next. If the squeegee squeaks a lot when you are washing or drying the windows, add a little more soap to the water.
  4. Wipe the windows dry. For small-paned windows, use the rubber blade on the squeegee to wipe away the water vertically, working from top to bottom. For a picture window, use horizontal strokes. Start at the top and work down the window. Overlap each stroke by a couple inches (a few centimeters), and wipe the blade dry with a lint-free cloth between each stroke.[8]
    • Make sure the rubber blade is always in contact with the window.
    • One of the easiest ways to get streak-free windows is to buy a good quality squeegee, and to make sure the rubber blade on it is sharp.[8] Replace the rubber blade when it gets dull, because it will stop sealing properly and start leaving streaks.
  5. Wipe up the excess water. Anywhere that water spilled, dripped, or ran down the window, wipe the area dry with an absorbent, lint-free cloth. This will prevent streaks on the window.
    • To prevent damage to the frame, use a separate cloth or rag to dry water from the window sill.



  • Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to clean inside a double paned window without ruining the airtight seal between the panes. However, dirt build-up or cobwebs in between the windows indicates the seal has already been breached, so you may want to consider replacing the windows.[13]

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Sources and Citations