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Washing Windows

The Martha Stewart Show

Washing windows doesn't have to be a chore. If you have the right tools and these tips, the process is quick and easy. Keep all your window-washing tools in one plastic or metal bucket (and use a second bucket to mix cleaning solutions).

Tools and Materials
A soft-bristled counter brush
White vinegar (or mild dishwashing liquid)
Large polyester or natural sea sponges
Squeegees, with extension poles
Lint-free cloths (huckaback or cloth diapers) that have not been washed or dried with fabric softener, which can leave behind a residue that will streak glass
Rubber gloves
Straight-edged razor blades
A sturdy ladder (with a label indicating it is approved by Underwriters Laboratories)
Nonammoniated all-purpose cleaner

Window Washing How-To
1. Choose a time of day when the sun is not shining directly on the windows. The heat from the sun can cause the cleaning fluid to dry, which will result in streaks or water spots.

2. Brush the exteriors of windows and frames lightly with a soft-bristled counter brush, dusting away cobwebs and loose dirt. Don't forget the hinges, sills, and tracks.

3. Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part hot water.

4. When using the squeegee indoors, place a towel along the windowsill to catch drips.

5. Using a sponge, wet (but don't drench) the window with the vinegar-and-water solution, and rub the dirt away. Keep the solution from touching the window frames.

6. Wet the squeegee; a dry blade will skip.

7. Starting at an upper corner of the pane, draw the squeegee down in a straight stroke. Return to the top and repeat, slightly overlapping the first stroke. After each stroke, wipe the rubber edge of the squeegee with a sponge or lint-free cloth. Finish by pulling the squeegee across the bottom of the window, and dry the sill with a sponge or cloth.

8. Wipe frames with a cloth dampened with a nonammoniated all-purpose cleaner and water. Rinse them thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth to remove cleaning solution and dry immediately by wiping with a clean, dry cloth.

Note for washing large windows: For huge picture windows, professionals favor a method called the snake. Starting in an upper corner, pull the squeegee horizontally across the window. At the opposite corner, turn, lower the squeegee to the water line, then pull it across the window. Work your way down and touch up the edges with a cloth.

You can find many more homekeeping hints in "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook." For an excellent window squeegee, visit Try Mrs. Meyer's for a great natural nonammoniated all-purpose cleaner.

Comments (12)

  • Terry Bullock 11 Jun, 2014

    Good article. I have to say I use a small amount of Fairy liquid in my bucket of water. It has to be good-quality soap or, I find, it's prone to leaving residue that you don't always spot straight away. A small amount of vinegar or lemon juice in the water also really helps cut through grease on dirtier windows.

  • JRWC 7 Oct, 2013

    Great tips! One of the things you can do when making home-made window cleaning solution is to skip the tap water and use distilled. Distilled water has no impurities and dries spotless. Tap water contains impurities - this is why your car gets spots after spraying it down with the hose and letting it drip dry. If you used distilled water, your car would dry spotless
    - JRWC JR Window Cleaning Keller

  • Bill S 31 Mar, 2013

    This is a great article. I thought for those who like to purchase ready to use cleaners, there is an new "green" cleaning manufacturer that has the best streak free VOC free, green glass cleaner called I tried just about every glass cleaner on the market and have been very disappointed in the results, I always have´╗┐ streaks. I have been using BioWorx VOC free glass and surface cleaner with a microfiber towel with no streaks.

  • GrammaS 6 May, 2008

    TSP, I believe, is trisodium phosphate - it is used to clean driveways that have grease drips from cars. You can find it at Home Depot-like stores.

  • dianeinpa 29 Apr, 2008

    But....what is "power TSP"?

  • mssugarplum 21 Apr, 2008

    Dawny ~ Did you dilute the Dawn? What ratio of Dawn to water?

  • Trazz 19 Apr, 2008

    I learned the tricks of the trade by a true window washer, in San Francisco for large office buildings. There trick is to use power TSP and water. Just enough TSP to make the water soft to the touch (like silk). It does a better job than vinegar, dishwashing liquid, or any other window cleaner. It helps sheet the water dirt off.

  • ElizaSwann 18 Apr, 2008

    I tried the newpaper method for window washing. My windows were very clean, however to my dismay, the newsprint left black marks all over my white trim. My very "unMartha-like" solution has been using Windex Outdoor Window

  • Squidink 17 Apr, 2008

    My Roy husband makes a cleaner that is fabulous...
    1 16oz bottle alcohol
    16 oz amonia
    1 tsp dish washing liquid
    put into a gal jug and SLOWLY fill to the top with water.
    This will clean anything. You can make a gallon for less than a dollar.

  • DaMarco 17 Apr, 2008

    I have used old newspaper to clean windows, works great, anyone else

  • dlmckee 17 Apr, 2008

    Why will the spray bottle be unusable if Dawn dish detergent is used?

  • Dawny 17 Apr, 2008

    i had a window washing business many years ago and the best stuff to clean your windows with is Dawn dishwashing detergent and several sizes of squeegees. it cuts through all the grime, dirt and everything else. throw the spray bottle away because you'll never use it again. you will be amazed how fast you can wash a window and you'll do your windows more often.