Cleaning Your Windows Like a Professional

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Windows -We love them when they are sparkling and clear, but almost everyone hates to clean them. There are lots of “secret” ways to clean your windows. Newspapers, ammonia and squeegees are just some of the window cleaning tools recommended by self-proclaimed window cleaning experts. But what really makes your windows clean AND streak free? Cleaning your windows really isn’t the problem — it’s the drying process. I tested several techniques to see which actually works best.

Vinegar and Newspapers — Vinegar is a natural acid that works great on really dirty windows. You can use it straight on the glass to cut through nose prints from your pets. Newspapers are absorbent and are believed to work well on glass, but you must be careful as the print will wipe off on the wood frames and your hands. After testing, I found the vinegar would smear and the newspapers didn’t seem to work any better than a paper towel.

Ammonia and water — Ammonia is a great grease cutter, but it dries very quickly which creates streaks. Also, the minerals in your water can add a film on your windows. Ammonia is great for cutting grease or smoke on glass but seems to work better as one of multiple ingredients in a glass cleaner.

Paper towels vs. rags — The downside of using paper towels is that you have to use a lot of them. I found that the cheaper ones definitely leave less lint on the windows. Well washed rags seem to work better at preventing streaks. My personal favorite is a microfiber cloth which is considered “new technology.”

Squeegee verses paper towels — Professionals use a squeegee to clean windows, but you really need to know how to use one to make it work correctly. If you’ve ever watched a professional window washer, you’ve seen them work in an “s” pattern. This is an art that takes a LOT of practice to get your windows streak free. If you have the time and want to perfect your style, you will get a perfectly clean window. But it may take much more work than drying your windows with a paper towel.

Alcohol, cornstarch, vinegar and club soda — This mixture seemed to do the nicest job on windows. It also worked well on mirrors and glass furniture. I think it’s the cornstarch that makes it work so well. I’m not totally sure, but I think the cornstarch actually absorbs the dirt and oil and then lifts it away without leaving a trace.

Overall, I’d say the last mixture of alcohol, cornstarch, vinegar and club soda sprayed on the windows and wiped off with a microfiber cloth was the absolute best way to clean (and dry) the windows with very little streaking.

Photo credits: Leslie Reichert

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