I Tried That “Genius” Window-Cleaning Sponge Hack And Learned 3 Important Things

published May 1, 2021
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.
Running cut sponge along a window track
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Now that the weather is finally warming up and I’m opening my windows pretty much every day, I noticed just how dirty my window tracks are. Normally, I’d just grab a paper towel to wipe them down, but I’m trying not to be as wasteful — and honestly, a flimsy piece of paper just isn’t enough to effectively lift a year’s worth of dirt and grime from a metal window track.

According to the internet, there’s a better way: cutting grooves in a sponge! According to this very popular YouTube tutorial, all you have to do is set the sponge on the tracks and mark with a Sharpie on the edge where it lands on the tracks. Then, use a box cutter or knife (carefully!) to cut grooves on the lines. Afterward, the sponge should perfectly hug the window track!

Since I’m not sure the last time my window tracks have been wiped down, I was excited to grab a sponge and try this trick out for myself. Here are a few things I learned about making this hack work:

Credit: Ashley Abramson

It’s not as easy as it looks.

My windows only have one track, in the middle, and it’s quite narrow. I realized right away the sponge might only work if I slid it over the track the long way. Once I marked the sponge, I cut the groove vertically in the middle, then got it wet.

My first observation: I was surprised the sponge didn’t glide over the tracks as easily as the video. I had to push so hard that a bit of the sponge actually tore off. Even once I maneuvered it across, it only cleaned up the middle portion of the track, leaving a bunch of dirt on the outside. 

Credit: Ashley Abramson

The way you shape and orient your sponge matters.

Obviously, the vertical way wouldn’t do a thorough job — it was just a bit too small to cover the entire track. Good thing I had a six-pack of sponges! After grabbing another one and positioning it horizontally over the track, I marked the middle of it, then cut the edge off so it would fit snugly (and fully) in the track. I’m not surprised this method worked a lot better; after a few wipes, the entirety of the sill was relatively clean. 

Honestly, I’m not sure this hack — as smart as it is! — works all that well for my specific windows. I think it would be a lot more effective on a sliding door track or a large window with multiple tracks (sadly, I have neither).

Credit: Ashley Abramson

It’s probably not the best way to clean your window tracks.

I don’t think this one saved time for me in the end, because I had to cut the sponge down to size, and then do some extra wiping with a microfiber cloth. Next time, I’ll probably just use a microfiber cloth to begin with, or even a rectangular cleaning brush — it’ll fit perfectly in the sill, and the fibers will probably more effectively move the dirt from the crevices. Even better, I could just stay on top of maintenance cleaning so my windows don’t get this dirty!