The Right Way to Clean Your Windows—Plus, How to Make Your Own Window Cleaner
The idea of washing your windows doesn't have to be intimidating. With the right tools, a DIY window cleaner, and these tried-and-tested tips from Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook ($27.34, amazon.com), the process is actually quick and easy. And the payoff—that warm stream of morning sun pouring into your bedroom—is totally worth the effort.
To start, gather all of your window-washing tools into one plastic or metal bucket (keep a second bucket on hand to mix cleaning solutions). Dirty panes are no problem when you use rubber-edged squeegees, which are quicker and more effective than cloth or newspaper. They come in a variety of sizes, and a screw-on extension will let you reach high spots.
Tools and Materials
To clean your windows, you'll need a handful of tools: A soft-bristled counter brush, white vinegar (or mild dishwashing liquid), large polyester or natural sea sponges ($24.95, crateandbarrel.com), squeegee 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), and non-ammoniated all-purpose cleaner like Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Glass Cleaner ($13.67, amazon.com).
How to Make DIY Window Cleaner
Martha uses a squeegee and a homemade cleaning solution of water and powdered dishwasher soap to clean her windows. You can also make an all-natural window cleaning solution using a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and hot water. Adding a touch of liquid soap to the vinegar solution will help remove any streak-causing wax left on the window from commercial cleaners used in the past. You can eliminate the soap after a few washings. Once your cleaning solution is mixed, you're ready to clean.
How to Clean Windows
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. 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. Next, mix the solution of one part white vinegar and one part hot water. When using the squeegee indoors, place a towel along the windowsill to catch drips. Using a sponge, wet (but don't drench) the window with the DIY window cleaner solution, and rub the dirt away, being sure to keep the solution from touching the window frames. Next, wet the squeegee; a dry blade will skip. 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. Wipe frames with a cloth dampened with a non-ammoniated all-purpose cleaner and water. Rinse them thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution and dry immediately by wiping with a clean, dry cloth.
For huge picture windows, professionals favor a method called the snake. Starting in one of the upper corners, pull the squeegee horizontally across the window. At the opposite corner, turn, lower the squeegee to the waterline, then pull it across the window. Work your way down and touch up the edges with a cloth. Then, dry windowsills with a cloth.