5 Ways to Clean Outside Windows Before Winter

Window cleaned outside with blue sponge and soapy water

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Your dirty, dusty windows could be why 5 p.m. sunsets make you want to retreat under a blanket.

Grimy windows significantly limit the amount of sunlight that fills a space during short winter days. The lack of natural light can send even the sunniest of dispositions into hibernation.

Whether you live in a fifth-floor walk-up or a detached home, you don't have to spend another minute stuck looking out of dirty plates of glass. Here are five ways you can get your windows sparkling clean inside and out before winter.

  • 01 of 05

    Magnetic Window Cleaner

    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 for apartment dwellers—unless you want to teeter dangerously on a window ledge.

    Or you can pick up a magnetic window cleaner that won't risk life or limb.

    Tools such as these wash both sides of a window at once using microfiber cleaning cloths to wipe off any liquid cleaning product you decide to 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.

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  • 02 of 05

    Grab a Mop to Clean Your Windows

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

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    A standard mop can make washing exterior windows a snap.

    Try this recipe for getting glass sparkling clean:

    • Mix one part water to one part vinegar in a small bucket.
    • Dip a clean microfiber cloth or mop head into the solution, and attach to the mop handle.
    • Scrub your exterior windows with the mop.

    Once most of the crud is gone, move on to the next step.

    • Spray a streak-free window cleaner onto the glass or on a clean microfiber cloth and wipe.
    • Wait for the window to dry.
    • Wipe the dried glass with newspaper for a streak-free shine. If your hands don't reach the window, you can skip this step.

    And most important, don't be a daredevil. For example, never climb out onto a window ledge or dodgy fire escape to clean your windows.

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  • 03 of 05

    Apartment-Friendly Window Cleaning Kit

    Squeegee cleaning off soapy water on outside of window

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    You could scrub exterior windows from inside your home with a U-shaped telescopic pole. Most sets include two cleaning attachments: a squeegee, and circular sponge with two cleaning cloths.

    The handle extends and works best on sliding windows. It removes most of the dirt caked on double-hung windows.

    You might want to place a plastic drop cloth near the window sill and the floor beneath the window. Don't forget to vacuum the window tracks. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe off any dust, dirt, and dead bugs that remain. Follow these other tips when cleaning:

    • Dry brush the windows with a dry rag that covered 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 product that cuts through crud and grease much quicker than water and vinegar and dries to a streak-free shine—you may even be able to find an option that's eco-friendly.
    • Wipe the cleaner from the windows using clean rags that you can slip over the circular sponge.
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  • 04 of 05

    Easy Way to Clean 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 screen 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 one part water with one part vinegar, and lightly spray on the screen toward the outside.
    • Avoid a gooey mess by wiping off the solution with a rag immediately after spraying


    Got a bathtub? You can rinse each screen one at a time after dusting and vacuuming in the tub using a handheld shower attachment.

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  • 05 of 05

    Let a Robot Clean Your Windows

    Winbot window cleaning robot working on a skyscraper.

    Do you hate washing windows? Several companies produce robot window cleaners that function like robotic vacuums, but for your windows—including the Winbot by Ecovacs Robotics (pictured)

    Modern models are equipped with higher-speed fan motors that clean more efficiently using a stronger suction that also boosts stability. They're increasingly quieter, too, so you can be at home without being distracted by the noise.

    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 scans the window to find out the best path to take.
    • When the window is clean, the appliance will return to the starting position.