How to Clean Windows

published Aug 1, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Window-cleaning isn’t just any old chore. Think of it this way: You have the privilege of gaining a sparkling-clean perspective every time you wash down a window, which for many people, is one of the easiest ways to see and enjoy the beauty of the outside world (especially when you’re indoors with nothing fun to do).

How often should you clean your windows? That depends on a few factors—including how dirty they are—but it might be beneficial to establish a rhythm. Angela Dixon and Georgia Bell, cleaning experts and Grove Guides with Grove Collaborative, recommend a weekly cleaning routine to get rid of spots (like little handprints or nose marks). “For maintenance cleaning, use a spray bottle with glass cleaner to target commonly smudgy spots,” says Dixon.

For your deeper window cleaning to remove dirt and restore shine, Bell and Dixon recommend a seasonal cadence of once every three or so months. The only caveat: If you live in an area with lots of dust or pollen, you may need to clean more frequently to keep your windows looking clear.

If it’s time to spend some time on your windows, here are the steps Dixon and Bell recommend you follow.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Clean Windows

Before you can actually clean your windows, you’ll need to gather your tools. Dixon and Bell swear by the following: 

How to Clean Outside Windows

Wiping down or spot-cleaning the inside of your windows is a quick way to spruce up your space, but you’ll need to target the outside, too, if you want them truly clean. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Loosen dirt

First, dip a clean sponge in a bucket of the vinegar and water window-washing solution to loosen up dirt, which could be caked on the windows. Clean from top to bottom in zig-zag motions until all visible dirt is removed.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Remove excess water

With your squeegee, remove any excess water from the surface of your window. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Spray away remaining streaks

Chances are, your squeegee left some streaks behind. Finish off the exterior of the window with your solution in a spray bottle and use a microfiber rag wipe it down, top to bottom in zig-zag motions, until it’s dry. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Remove and clean screens

If possible, remove the window screens, spray them down with a hose, and let them air dry before re-installing.

How to Clean Inside Windows

Now that the outside of your windows are sparkling clean (read: the hardest part is over), it’s time to take care of the interior. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Remove window treatments

For an unobstructed surface, remove any curtains, shades, or blinds, then launder or wash according to the specifications of the material.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Spray and wipe the window

Using your vinegar-water solution, spray the window from top to bottom and wipe it in zig-zag motions with a clean rag (ideally, microfiber) or a paper towel until it’s clean or dry. If necessary, go over the windows a second time with a lighter layer of spray and the drying rag. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Polish

Use a polishing rag to get rid of any remaining streaks or smudges. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Clean the sills

Wipe down all the window sills with an all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth, using the toothbrush for any detail work in the seams of the panes and sills.

How do you remove film from windows? 

Using the right cleaner along with an absorbent cloth is the key, according to Dixon and Bell. If you’re using a rag, make sure it isn’t laundered with fabric softener. Use a glass-specific cleaner or vinegar and water, as some all-purpose cleaners have ingredients that may not wipe off or dry down fully. They also recommend cleaning windows in sections. “If your cleaning solution dries in the wind or sun before you towel it off, it may create streaking,” Bell says.

Can you use newspaper to clean windows?

“Old newspapers are a great, eco-friendly alternative to paper towels when cleaning windows,” says Dixon. “Newspaper is a time-tested window washer because it doesn’t leave behind fibers, and it’s a sturdy scrubber on the exterior of the glass, where dirt and grime from the outside can build up on panes.” However, keep in mind that some newspapers, especially ones that use petroleum-based ink, may leave ink residue on the window. Test a small area before doing the whole thing.