Sparkle & Smile

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Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Guide to Spring Cleaning, Part 4: Windows


This month, we’re going to be walking you through the best way to clean and organize each of those problem areas in your home. The 7-part series will include:

  1. Closets,
  2. Garage,
  3. Kitchen,
  4. Windows,
  5. Surfaces,
  6. Bathrooms, and
  7. Appliances.

Click here to read Part 1 on closets, here for Part 2 about the garage, or here for Part 3 on the kitchen. Or, keep reading to learn how to make those windows shine!

Part 4: Windows!

It’s been a long winter, and, unfortunately, it shows on the exterior windows of my home.  The snow, wind and rain have created a grimy film on my beautiful windows, making it hard for the natural light to shine through.  And what about those window screens?  Those lovely spring breezes are blowing through my dusty screens, polluting the air in my home and covering my windows in dirt. Chances are, the same is true for your home as well.

The good news is that winter is over and it is time to clean!  Spring cleaning would not be complete without sparkling windows!  To get your windows looking gorgeous and shiny on the outside, follow these quick and easy green tips:

  • Pick a cloudy day to wash your windows.  Try not to clean your windows in direct sunlight, because the heat dries the glass too quickly, which can leave streaks, smears and water spots.
  • Gather your supplies, which consist of a measuring cup, liquid dish detergent, distilled white vinegar, club soda, cornstarch, rubbing alcohol, a squeegee, an extension pole (if needed for squeegee), old towels, two microfiber cloths (No microfiber cloths?  Use coffee filters instead!), an empty spray bottle and bucket.
  • Remove screens and place them on old towels.
  • Wipe all reachable cobwebs off of windows.   If your windows are very dirty, you may want to pre-wash them first by adding two tablespoons liquid dish soap to a gallon of warm water.  Apply to windows and wipe clean.  The dish detergent is effective at cutting grease and residue.
  • Prepare your window cleaner by combining ¼ cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 cups club soda (or warm water or a mixture of both), and  ¼ cup rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix.  Vinegar removes films from glass surfaces and leaves the windows free of streaks and smudges. Cornstarch absorbs dirt and oils and lifts them away without leaving a trace.  Club soda is plain water into which carbon dioxide gas has been dissolved and is great for removing stains.   Rubbing alcohol makes a good glass cleaner because it evaporates quickly without streaking.
  • Spray the solution on your window.  Be sure to get the corners where dirt and grime collect.  Wash windows in an alternating up and down, and right to left motion. Do not use a circular motion because it can cause streaks.   Wipe the surface clean with a microfiber cloth OR a squeegee, whichever you prefer.
  • Use undiluted vinegar directly on hard-to-remove water spots.  Apply the vinegar to a microfiber cloth and rub the area clean. Polish with a dry microfiber cloth.
  • If you are using a squeegee to wipe your windows, start at the top left of the window and move left to right, right to left, and back, wiping the blade often.  Keep your squeegee clean between strokes by wiping it off with a dry microfiber cloth.
  • Next, wipe the window frame down with a spritz of cleaning solution and a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Hose off your window screens on both sides and let them air-dry in the sun.  After they are dry, put the screens back on the windows.

Keep your windows clean between washes by spot cleaning and dusting them regularly.  Use microfiber cloths to polish windows and remove light dust by slightly dampening them and rubbing down the windows.

Tips for using a squeegee:

Do not squeegee a window in direct sunlight or it will leave streaks.

If there are little drops left around the edges after squeegeeing, dry them gently with a dry microfiber cloth.

Replace squeegee blade regularly.  Worn rubber tends to streak.

Remember that there is a wet and a dry side to a squeegee. Also, if water is streaking from the top of the squeegee, simply apply a little pressure to the side of the squeegee that is streaking. It helps to wipe the squeegee off from time to time.

Safety Tips:

Abrasive materials on some sponges may scratch windows.

Whenever possible, use an extension handle to reach high windows with your feet on the ground. Also, find out if the window panels lift out or fold in for cleaning. If you must use a ladder, use it safely and take care not to overreach.

That’s it for Part 4 of Marie Stegner’s Guide to Spring Cleaning! Send us pictures of your clean and organized closets, and check back tomorrow for Part 5: Surfaces!

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