A clean window literally makes a difference in how you view the world. Here's how to get them clean in just a few easy steps.


Washing windows doesn't have to feel intimidating. With the right tools and these tried-and-tested tips, the process is quick and easy, and the payoff-that warm stream of morning sun pouring into your bedroom-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.

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, read on for the how-to.

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. Then, dry windowsills with a cloth.

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

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 one part white vinegar and one 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 non-ammoniated 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.

Find many more homekeeping hints in "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook." For an excellent window squeegee, visit gracioushome.com. Try Mrs. Meyer's for a great natural non-ammoniated all-purpose cleaner.

Comments (20)

February 14, 2019
We just started our window cleaning business (https://www.cleanestwindowscolorado.com) and recently came across your article. Love the information in here, especially the attention to the finer details, like: first clearing dust and debris away from and off of the windows, having the right tools and cleaning solution, cleaning the sills, tracks, and ledges... all of this! Have you ever tried adding liquid dishwashing soap to the water+vinegar solution? It really takes things to the next level. Thank you for being such an awesome resource, it's much appreciated.
January 4, 2019
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February 24, 2017
Thank you for this excellent article. I will send it to my clients at www.natesolutions.com when they are looking for a green solution to use indoors in their homes.
July 8, 2016
Thanks for these additional ideas. I usually do the window cleaning on my own but for taller areas, my go to window cleaning service is Eco Squeaks. I had this accident few years ago when I tried cleaning a very tall window and I fell so it kinda made me think about the idea of paying someone do the job than hurting yourself, which could cost more than the service charge.
April 18, 2016
I read a lot about using drones to clean windows, especially on tall buildings. ie http://windowdrones.wordpress.com . Does anyone has experience with that?
April 14, 2016
The type of cloth used is also a factor when wiping the windows. Use felt if possible. Cheaper clothes will leave micro particles of dust (which are visible) and difficult to remove. Again, we are window cleaning experts.
April 14, 2016
I agree with all the window cleaning tips outlined here, however, I would add that you can significantly reduce streaks if you wide the squeegee blade after every wipe. We've have been doing it for years (http://windowcleaningservice.ca/)
September 10, 2015
I like the so called "Three Towel Method" for cleaning windows. Is very fast and easy and leaves no streaks. See video for how to do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvjB8xw7TK0
June 11, 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.
October 7, 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
March 31, 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 BioWorx.us 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.
May 6, 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.
April 29, 2008
But....what is "power TSP"? dianeinpa@gmail.com
April 21, 2008
Dawny ~ Did you dilute the Dawn? What ratio of Dawn to water?
April 19, 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.
April 18, 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
April 17, 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.
April 17, 2008
I have used old newspaper to clean windows, works great, anyone else
April 17, 2008
Why will the spray bottle be unusable if Dawn dish detergent is used?
April 17, 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.