How to Clean Outside Windows Before Winter

5 Simple Methods for a Streak-Free View

Window cleaned outside with blue sponge and soapy water

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Dirty windows can significantly limit the amount of sunlight that enters a room, and that can make your space especially dim on short winter days. So prior to the cold weather hitting, take the time to clean the outsides of your windows. The best temperature to wash outside windows is somewhere between roughly 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You won't have to deal with frost or your cleaning product evaporating too quickly in heat.

Before You Begin

To start your exterior window cleaning process, rinse the windows with a hose or go over them with a cloth to knock off any debris. Consider this a prewash; it's not worth wasting your window cleaning product on large chunks of dirt and debris. Then, it's time to determine what you'll require to be able to reach the window exteriors (e.g., a mop or telescopic pole) and to select your cleaning product.

There are several glass cleaners that will clean windows without streaking. But you can also make your own to save money. One of the best homemade window cleaning solutions is simply a mixture of water and dish soap.

Here are five easy methods for how to wash windows outside and get clean, streak-free windows like a professional.

  • 01 of 05

    Use a Magnetic Window Cleaner for the Outside

    Red magnetic window cleaner passing over outside window with soapy water

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Cleaning the exterior side of windows that don't unlatch and lower into a room is no easy task, especially when they're too high to be reached via the ground or a short ladder from the outside. But you can try a magnetic window cleaner, which will allow you to clean windows outside from the inside.

    Tools such as this wash both sides of a window at once using microfiber cleaning cloths to wipe off any liquid cleaning product you use. Folks who own these gizmos say it takes some practice to get the tool to glide smoothly. For example, pushing it around too quickly while cleaning can disconnect the magnets.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Try a Mop to Extend Your Reach

    Mop covered with microfiber cloth passing over outside window with on part vinegar

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    A mop can help you reach windows from the outside. To get streak-free windows, mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a bucket. Then, dip a standard mop or a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution, and wipe down the window's surface.

    To dry the windows, use a rubber squeegee in straight motions from top to bottom. Remember to dry off the squeegee between rows to prevent streaks.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Pick Up a Telescopic Pole

    Squeegee cleaning off soapy water on outside of window

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    If the reach of a mop won't cut it, try using a U-shaped telescopic pole. It will allow you to wash the windows outside while standing inside. Most cleaning pole sets include two attachments: a squeegee and circular sponge with two cleaning cloths.

    Get the best results with the following tips:

    • Dry brush the windows with a dry rag that covers the circular sponge. Eliminating some of the dirt this way first reduces the muddy mess a spray cleaner will create later.
    • Spray the glass with several coats of a powerful window cleaner. Look for a product that cuts through crud and grease and dries to a streak-free shine.
    • Wipe the cleaner from the windows using clean rags that you slip over the circular sponge.

    The best way to wash exterior windows on a single-family house without a big ladder is a squeegee and a 24' telescoping extension pole. This is the ultimate setup for DIY window washing, as you can wet the scrubber side, run up the pole and scrub the windows with one side, flip it, and squeegee with the other side, all without having to lower the pole multiple times to switch tools.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Vacuum and Wash Window Screens

    Vacuum with brush head attachment cleaning screen outside bathroom window

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Dirty window screens can also reduce the amount of natural light in your home. One of the best ways to clean them is to pop them out, bring them outside, and hose them down with water.

    Don't have an outdoor space? You can leave the screens in place and do this instead:

    • Wipe off dust using a microfiber cloth or a disposable dust cloth.
    • Vacuum each screen using a brush attachment.
    • Mix 1 part water with 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle, and lightly spray the screen toward the outside. Then, wipe the screen with a rag immediately after spraying.


    For a more thorough cleaning, you can rinse each screen one at a time in a bathtub or shower after dusting and vacuuming.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Let a Robot Clean Your Windows

    Winbot window cleaning robot working on a skyscraper.

    Several companies produce robot window cleaners that function like robotic vacuums but for windows—including the Winbot by Ecovacs Robotics (pictured).

    Here's how most robotic window cleaners work:

    • Place the safety pod and harness that's attached to the machine on the inside of your window. It will catch the appliance if it falls.
    • Attach the cleaning pad, and spray with cleaning solution. The appliance has two built-in squeegees.
    • Flip the on switch.
    • Position the cleaner on the window (inside or out). Before the gizmo starts cleaning, it will scan the window to find out the best path to take.
    • Once the window is clean, the appliance will return to the starting position.