A simple cleaning solution, some cloths, a sponge, and a squeegee are all that stand between you and crystal-clear glass.
Photography: Annie Schlechter1 of 4
Metal or Vinyl Venetian Blinds
Wipe each slat individually with a cloth dampened in a mixture of warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid.
Metal or Vinyl Vertical Blinds
Remove a few slats at a time, lay them flat, and wipe with a cloth dampened in a mixture of warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid.
Wooden Blinds and Shutters
Wipe each slat with a slightly damp cloth (no soap). Dry with a clean cloth.
If slatted metal or vinyl blinds are very dirty, remove them from the window and lay them flat on a drop cloth outside. Scrub closed blinds with a soft brush and warm soapy water. Repeat on the other side; rinse. Open and hang outside to dry.
Use cotton swabs to clean the smallest crevices around a window.
Photography: Bryan Gardner2 of 4
Avoid washing windows in direct sunlight, since the heat will dry the liquid too quickly, causing streaks.
Dust windows first with a soft-bristled brush. Place a rolled-up towel across the sill.
Mix equal parts white vinegar and hot water in a bucket. Wet a sponge in the mixture, and use it to wipe dirt away, avoiding the frames.
Dampen a squeegee’s rubber blade (so it won’t skip). Draw it down the glass in a straight stroke, then wipe the squeegee. Repeat, slightly overlapping your strokes.
For mullioned windows, use a mini hacksaw to cut a squeegee to a size slightly narrower than that of the panes. (Snip the rubber with scissors.)
Pro stainless steel window squeegee, by Unger, 12", $18, homedepot.com
Photography: Bryan Gardner3 of 4
Bag and label any loose hardware before you begin. Note the room and position (e.g., “den, left of TV”).
Work in the yard, garage, laundry room, or tub; ideally, you want to be in an area that has drainage.
First, lay the screens flat on the ground, prop them against a wall, or hold smaller ones at a slight angle. Wet a scrub brush in a mixture of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid, and run it over the mesh and frame.
Rinse with a hose or under the faucet. Let dry completely (outside in the sun is best) before hanging.
Photography: Bryan Gardner4 of 4
I Love My ... Spray Bottle
“I mix my own cleaning solutions, and this bottle, with a built-in lemon squeezer, lets me juice a deodorizing lemon right into the mixture.”
—Linda Denahan, deputy photo editor
Recipe Natural cleaning bottle, $10, crateandbarrel.com
Don't Forget the ... Casings
Before washing the windows, use a dust-brush attachment to vacuum the glass and the grooves in the casing, the muntins, and the mullions. After washing the glass, wipe the frames with all-purpose cleaner mixed with water. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth, then wipe dry with a clean cloth.