How to Clean Windows Effectively

Windows are sometimes forgotten in the throes of spring cleaning, but they deserve just as much attention as the bathtub or the stained carpet.

A clean window will result in a brighter house. You’ll benefit from more and brighter sunlight once the dust has been wiped away, and you’ll be amazed at how different the view looks once it’s clear.

I’m not saying you need to wash your windows every day, but when you’re in the zone and deep cleaning the rest of your home, make sure you also spend some time at the windows.

If you can, it’s best to wash windows on a cloudy day. If it’s too bright outside the soap and water will dry too quickly, leaving smears on the glass. The good news is, spring weather is usually perfect for window cleaning.

Not sure where to start? I’ve created a window-cleaning guide with information on cleaning the inside and outside of your windows. It’s easier than it seems! Let’s get started.

Supplies

1 Dish Soap

Any dish soap will work! Grab your supplies and get ready. 

Always start by gathering your supplies and making sure that you have everything you need in order to clean the windows properly. You don’t want to get stuck half way through and end up with streaks across the glass or a half-washed window! You’ll need:

  • Bucket of warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar or store-bought window cleaner
  • Spray bottle
  • Dry towel or paper towels
  • Swiffer mop

Interior Windows

The inside of your windows will probably be much cleaner than the outside, so it’s a good idea to start inside. Here’s how.

Prepare

First, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. You’ll need plenty of wash clothes, rags, or paper towels. Mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water in a bucket. If your windows are too high to reach on your own, you can use a swiffer mop to clean them.

Rinse

Start by rinsing the windows with the soap and water and a clean towel. Ring the towel out so it isn’t dripping but is wet, and rub down the window. Depending on how dirty the window is, you may need to go over it a couple times.

2 Wash Cloth Rinsing

Use a rag to wipe away the initial dirt on the windows. Make sure to also wipe down the frames while you’re at it.

Dry

Use a second towel or a rubber squeegee to dry the window off. Use long, strong movements in one direction to avoid streaks. If the window still looks especially dirty you can rinse and dry a second time.

Spray

Place the vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the windows, starting at the top and working your way down. Vinegar is one of the best window cleaners, and it’s cheap and easy to find. You can also use a product designed for window cleaning, such as Windex or the Laundress.

3 Vinegar Spray

A spray bottle is the best way to ensure even distribution of vinegar on the window.

Wipe

Wipe off the vinegar using swift motions in the same direction as you dried the window. You may need to spray and wipe the same area a few times if there are difficult smudges. This is the final step, and therefore one of the most important. Use solid motions and make sure you aren’t leaving drips or streaks.

Exterior Windows

Chances are, the exterior windows are much dirtier than the interior windows. Outside, the windows might pick up dust, dirt, pollen, rain splatters, or even dead bugs. Because of this, you’ll need to take a bit more time outside. Of course, this also means that the exterior cleaning will look instantly better.

Prepare

In preparing to clean the exterior windows, you might want to make sure you’re wearing clothes that can get dirty. Gather all the same supplies that you used for cleaning the inside windows, plus a swiffer mop if your windows are high and a few extra rags since they’ll get dirty faster.

4 Dirty Window

Even if your windows don’t look that bad, closer inspection can reveal layers of grime that block light and make the rest of your space look dirty as well. A lot of this dirt comes from outside, so it’s important to clean both sides of the window.

Rinse

Start by rinsing the outside of the windows using a rag and soapy water. I suggest having two rags for this. Start with one that will pick up the bulk of the dirt and pollen. Next switch to a second wet rag and go over the  window again to pick up the remaining dirt.

5 Wet Window

Don’t let the window sit wet for long, since the air and sun will dry it before you can wipe away the water and leave streaks and watermarks. 

Dry

Keep a dry rag handy and wipe away the soap and water immediately. This is even more important outside than it is inside. Because the window is exposed to more wind and sun, the water will dry quicker. If the water dries on its own instead of with a dry rag, you’ll end up with streaks on the glass.

6 Dry Cloth

Always start at the top of the window and work your way down, using smooth, strong motions from one side to the other.

Spray

This stage is the same inside and outside. Starting at the top of the window, spray the vinegar across the glass.

Wipe

Using solid, strong motions from side to side, wipe away the vinegar, taking care not to leave behind any streaks or drips.

7 Clean Window

Your finished window should be clean, clear, and free of streaks and smudges.

Once you’ve finished wiping down the inside and outside of your windows, take a step back to admire your work. I guarantee you’ll be impressed with how much brighter and cleaner the rest of the house feels once there’s no longer dust and pollen on the windowsill.

0 How to Clean Windows Effectively