Wash Your Windows Like a ProBy John Kirchner
Let’s be honest – the best part of spring (or pretty much summer, at this point) cleaning is wiping away the dingy film of winter and unveiling the brisk feel of spring. Nothing is more emblematic of this transition than window washing. Before you break out the toxic window cleaner and squeegee, let’s talk over a few pointers for squeaky clean, non-streaky windows. Borrowing our tips from the pros, we sat down with Megan Anderson, who specializes in non-toxic household cleaning. For dingy windows, Anderson recommends a three-step approach that will polish them to perfection.
- Before you begin, a few things to consider:
- Time window washing to cloudy days – bright sunlight causes the windows to dry too quickly, which may cause the dreaded streaks
- Wash each window individually – streaks increase as you try to tackle more than one surface.
- Gather your supplies:
- Two spray bottles (Anderson cautions against using buckets to mix or apply these solutions: “Buckets are horrible; you’re spreading your mess with each dip in a bucket. We never ever use them for any aspect of our cleaning.”)
- Organic dish detergent
- Vinegar (organic if you prefer)
- Flour sack cloths (Anderson estimates that she has used the same cloths for hundreds of cleaning hours and never has had to replace them. She purchased hers online for about 30 cents apiece.)
- Prepare your solutions. Combine 32 ounces of water with four to five drops of organic dish detergent in a spray bottle. Also, prepare a mixture of three parts vinegar to one part water for the second spray bottle.
- Mist the window with this dish detergent mixture. This mixture breaks down the grease that has accumulated on the windows – very helpful for kitchen windows.
- Immediately follow this by spraying the vinegar mixture on the window. Vinegar is a solvent and it will break down the soap from the first step so you’re not leaving a soap residue. However, on its own, it won’t break down the grease.
- Buff the window dry using a flour sack cloth.
- Follow the same process for the outdoor side of ground-level windows.
Anderson won’t clean the exterior of windows that are 8 feet or higher. She recommends hiring professional window washers for anything above the ground floor. Recognizing this homeowner dilemma – hire professionals, which may cost $500 to $600 a pop, or climb the outdoors ladder themselves – we at Marvin Windows and Doors developed the Ultimate Casement window, which knocks out the need for external window washing. The window features hardware that allows the window’s exterior to be rotated inward, letting you wash the outside of the window from inside the house.