How to Clean Windows Like a Pro

Clean with no streaks and no stress

Woman wearing yellow rubber gloves spraying window cleaner on a window

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 20

Sparkling clean windows bring more light into a room and help a home look fresh and clean. Glass windows attract dust and pollutants both inside and outside. While the task of cleaning windows can be time-consuming, most of that time involves moving ladders or furniture to access the window or removing and replacing screens. The actual cleaning can be done quickly and efficiently with just a few tools and cleaning products.

Read on to learn how to clean your windows correctly.

How Often to Clean Windows

In most homes, the windows should be cleaned at least twice per year—spring and fall. You may find that the windows in some rooms need more attention. Windows over kitchen sinks can become splattered or show specks of grease from cooking. Of course, for the best-looking windows, clean them when you see dirt accumulating or at the beginning of every season.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 2 0/2 to 4 microfiber cloths
  • 1 stepstool or ladder
  • 1 squeegee
  • 1 duster
  • 1 spray bottle
  • 1 vacuum with hose or hand-held vac

Materials

  • 1 container commercial glass cleaner
  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar

Instructions

How to Clean Windows

  1. Remove All Obstructions

    To make cleaning easier, remove all interior curtains, blinds, and shades. This is a good time to wash or clean these items while they are off the windows. Move furniture away from the windows so that you can easily place a step stool or ladder to reach the top of the window.

    On the outside of the home, remove storm windows or screens. Give them a thorough cleaning or store them away for the season.

    Tips

    • While window cleaning can be a one-person job, it will go more quickly if two people work together. One person can be on the inside and one on the outside so that missed areas can be corrected easily.
    • Do not work in direct sunlight, the window cleaner dries too quickly and can leave streaks. Choose a slightly cloudy day or move around the house away from the sun.
    • Always use a sturdy step stool or ladder when cleaning windows.
  2. Dust the Windows

    This may sound like extra work but going over the window with a duster will remove loose soil and cobwebs. There's no need to push that dirt around while you clean.

  3. Clean the Tracts and Sill

    If the window opens, it has tracts that allow it to slide up and down. Dust these tracts and the window sill or use a vacuum with a hose and crevice attachment to remove dirt and insects.

  4. Choose a Window Cleaner

    You can use your favorite commercial window cleaner or make your own. A simple homemade window cleaner can be made by filling a spray bottle with a 50:50 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water.

  5. Start at the Top

    Whether you begin cleaning inside or outside, always start at the top of the window. By working your way down, you'll catch any drips that appear.

    Lightly spray the cleaner on the glass and let it work for at least 30 seconds to start cutting through the grime.

  6. Remove the Soil

    To remove the cleaner and the soil from the window glass, you can use a squeegee or a lint-free microfiber cloth. If you are using a squeegee, wipe it with a microfiber cloth after each stroke to remove excess dirt and moisture. Squeegees work best on large picture windows but do not work well on small panes.

    If you are using a microfiber cloth, fold it into a small square or rectangle and keep moving to a clean section of the cloth as the soil is transferred.

    While cleaning the window, work in one direction. Use horizontal strokes on one side of the window and vertical strokes on the other side so you can tell which side needs a touch-up if streaks remain.

    Tip

    The most important tip when washing windows is to use a lint-free tool for cleaning and drying. Paper towels and some cotton towels like terrycloth can leave fibers on the windows.

  7. Clean the Window Sills

    Once the window is clean, wipe down the sill with a damp microfiber cloth to remove smudges. Check outside window trim and framing for rot and make repairs as necessary.

  8. Reassemble the Window Components

    Once the glass and sill are sparkling clean, reassemble the outside screens and interior window dressings.

Tips to Keep Your Windows Sparkling Clean

  • Never use paper towels or lint-shedding cloths for cleaning.
  • Dust windows before spraying on the glass cleaner to remove loose soil.
  • Give the glass cleaner time to cut through the soil before wiping it away.
  • Clean windows on an overcast day.