Homemade Glass Cleaner

Woman cleaning window
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A lot of things will work as a homemade glass cleaner, from rubbing alcohol to vinegar to soapy water, but single ingredients alone tend to have their own drawbacks. For example, vinegar does a decent job removing dust and water spots, but it doesn't cut through a lot of sticky stuff, and it tends to streak more than other cleaners. Rubbing alcohol is a potent cleaner but it's harsh and strong-smelling so it's not a great glass cleaner by itself. Combining ingredients is the secret to making a homemade glass cleaner that cleans well without streaking, just like the store-bought formulas.

Mixing Homemade Glass Cleaner

Carefully mix together your cleaning ingredients in a new, empty spray bottle. Do not reuse a spray bottle that previously had another kind of cleaner in it. This eliminates the possibility of a toxic chemical reaction between the new ingredients and the old cleaner. Label the spray bottle as "glass cleaner" and keep it safely stored where curious pets or children will not have access to it.

Basic Homemade Glass Cleaner Formula

Mixing alcohol and white vinegar makes a quickly evaporating glass and mirror cleaner that can compete with the cleaning power of national brands. This same recipe can also be used to give a nice shine to ceramic, chrome, and other hard surfaces.

Note: Do not use vinegar on stone or other materials that can react with or be etched by acid.

Homemade Glass Cleaner With Corn Starch

Yes, cornstarch. Why it helps is anyone's guess, but a lot of people with formerly filthy windows swear by it. There are a couple of tricks to using this formula:

  1. Shake the spray bottle well before spraying on the cleaner to mix up the solution.
  2. Continue wiping until the glass is clear; if you leave the cleaner on the surface, the cornstarch leaves a residue.

The components for this are:

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups water

Best Tool for Wiping Windows

You've probably heard this before, but the best homemade "rag" for windows is plain black-and-white newspaper. It's free, it's recyclable, and it leaves glass and mirrors without streaks and lint. Cotton rags and paper towels leave too much lint, and paper towels are a waste of paper.

An Exception to the Rule: Microfiber

Since you're interested in simple, homemade glass cleaners, it wouldn't be right not to mention the option of plain water. This is the exception to the previously mentioned advice about mixing ingredients for the best performance. Water is an excellent glass cleaner if—big "if"—you also have a very high-quality microfiber glass-cleaning cloth.

The best microfiber cloths are made of 70 percent polyester and 30 percent polyamide. They also can cost upwards of $15 or $20 each. If you wash and dry them properly (without fabric softener) and keep them in good condition, they'll clean glass with plain water just as well as another homemade cleaner setup. Cheap microfiber cloths don't have the same cleaning power and usually aren't worth the trouble; if you have a cheap cloth, you're probably better off with a blended solution and newspaper.