A Squeegee Ain’t Enough: Secrets to Easy Window Cleaning for Homes

By Victoria Marsh
windows of a house

The most seemingly simple household chores are often the ones most people get wrong. Take window cleaning, for example. Initially, it looks easy. Most homeowners think a good window cleaning involves a rug, some water and a good scrub. On the contrary, good window cleaning requires more than just squeegees and window cleaning kits.

To fully enjoy the sun’s rays or the view outside, washing your window should be on top of your cleaning to-do list (especially your spring cleaning to-do list). Fortunately, a good window cleaning isn’t an impossible task. As long as you have the right tools and know the right techniques, you can clean your windows as good as residential and commercial cleaning companies do.

There are many ways to clean your windows really well. The first step to good window cleaning is the materials. A squeegee shouldn’t be the only tool in your window cleaning kits.

The Equipment: What is the Best Thing to Clean Windows With?

woman cleaning her windows
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

To start cleaning windows properly, you need quality equipment. Some of them you can easily find in your kitchen. Others need a little more specialization, which means you’ll have to visit your local cleaning supplies shop or hardware store.

Here’s a bucket list of window cleaning supplies you’ll need.

Squeegee

When it comes to window cleaning, the squeegee is a must-have in any window cleaning kit. Not all squeegees are made the same; there are huge differences in the quality. When purchasing a squeegee, avoid buying the ones that you see at gas stations. Instead, ask your local cleaning supply store for a good brand with a sturdy swiveling handle that can take more force.

High-quality squeegees are usually assembled from three pieces: the channel, the piece of rubber supported by the channel and the handle. The rubber part can be easily turned over when it gets old. If it becomes worn out, you can replace it.

Bucket

The bucket contains the water or the cleaning solution used for window cleaning. Buy a bucket that is wide enough to fit the mop and squeegee in. Professional cleaners often use the blue bucket, but it can be a little over the top for homeowners.

Scraper

Scrapers come with replaceable metal blades that can easily remove tough marks, such as varnish, paint or insect marks. Most maintenance jobs require a one-inch pocket scraper but if you’re scraping larger areas, use three to six-inch scrapers to cover more window area.

Mop (aka Wand or Washer)

Mops come in two pieces: the sleeve and the t-bar. When the sleeve becomes dirty, you can easily remove it from the t-bar and throw it in your washing machine. It is usually attached by buttons or Velcro.

The sleeve is also available in different versions:

  • Regular, scourer. A mop with a scouring strip on one side.
  • Porcupine. A washer with little plastic bits that scrubs tough marks off.
  • Water retention. You don’t have to return the mop to the bucket when you use this one.

Detergent

Similar to other cleaning products, detergent is available in a variety of scents and formulations. There is no one cleaning detergent to use. It depends on your preference and your budget. A rule of thumb when shopping for detergent is the most expensive ones aren’t always the ones that give you a 100 percent clean. So it’s OK to stick with the window cleaning detergent that does the job and fits your budget.

Other people prefer to use vinegar in warm water over detergent. This natural alternative to commercial glass cleaner formulas can work, but it doesn’t sud up. The suds lubricate the rubber as you pass the scraper over the glass, which makes it easier to use the squeegee. Also, suds show the dirtier areas of the glass that need more scrubbing.

What is the Easiest Way to Wash Windows?

someone with pink gloves holding a spray bottle
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Many window cleaning resources will offer 10 steps to cleaning your windows. In reality, there are two ways to clean your windows thoroughly: from the outside and from the inside.

What is the Best Way to Clean Outside Windows?

  1. Windows outside of your home are usually dirtier and more stained. Use a hose to rinse the windows before you fill the bucket with clean and cool water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface of the window. For windows you can’t reach, use a mop on a pole.
  3. Rinse again with the hose.
  4. Mop or spray with a commercial detergent or vinegar and water solution.
  5. Wipe down the window with a rubber-bladed squeegee. After each pass, wipe the squeegee with a clean and dry towel. You can also use a lint-free towel to dry your windows.
  6. For stubborn stains and dirt, saturate the glass thoroughly with water and vinegar and let it stand for a few minutes before drying. Refrain from using harsh scrubbing cloths or steel wool to avoid scratching windows.
  7. Don’t neglect your window screens! With window screen cleaners, all you have to do is rinse the screen with water, spray with the vinegar mixture and rinse again.

What is the Best Way to Clean Windows Inside of Your Home?

  1. Fill a large pot or bucket with clean water and add dish soap.
  2. Place a towel under the window to dry up spills.
  3. Use a clean sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe the surface of the window, starting from the top to bottom. Don’t forget to wipe down the frame, too.
  4. Spray the window thoroughly with a commercial cleaner or the water and vinegar solution. You can also mix one cap of ammonia with two gallons of water.
  5. Use a clean lint-free towel to dry the window. You can also use paper towels or the black and white pages of your newspaper.

How Do You Make Window Glass Cleaner at Home? Tips & Tricks to Keep in Mind

When it comes to home maintenance tasks, achieving streak-free glass windows seems like one of the most difficult tasks. Most of the time homeowners spend hours wiping and spraying only to be left with windows that still look dirty. If this is you, worry not.

Here are a few window glass cleaner tips to keep in mind:

Clean from Top to Bottom

pillows by the windowsill
Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

The secret to streak-free windows is cleaning from the top to bottom. Cleaning solutions drip so you’ll have to use gravity to your advantage. Let the cleaner drip into areas you haven’t wiped down yet. Start at the top and work your way to the bottom to prevent drips on surfaces that have already been cleaned.

Use a Cotton Swab to Clean the Corners

No matter how hard you try, it seems like there will always be residue build-up in the corners of the glass. Unless you have the right tools, getting the residue out is tricky. You can use cotton swabs to clean those hard-to-reach areas of your windows.

Make Homemade Window Screen Cleaners

Sometimes, homemade window screen cleaners can do the job for you. They don’t contain chemicals and cost less than commercial cleaners. To create your own cleaner, mix a cup of water, a cup of rubbing alcohol and a tablespoon of vinegar.

Using white vinegar and isopropyl alcohol creates a quickly evaporating glass cleaner that can offer nearly the same results as commercial brands. You can also use this homemade cleaner to clean chrome, hard tiles and other surfaces.

Avoid Cleaning the Wood

Many windows and glass cleaners can damage the framed wood areas of your windows and mirrors. Avoid drips on the wood by placing a small cloth on the windowsill or wood to absorb drips.

Try an Old T-Shirt

If you don’t have a microfiber towel, use an old t-shirt to wipe down your windows since they don’t have any lint residue. They are also absorbent enough to clean your windows.

Clear Windows

Having the right tools and using the right techniques are the secrets to cleaner glass windows. Most of the time, the necessary tools are in your kitchen or storage. If not, visit the local cleaning supply store for them. As for the techniques, the tips mentioned above can help you achieve good window cleaning.

Here’s to more effective window cleanings.

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