How to Clean Windows Inside and out for Streak-Free Results

By Kelly Roberson, BHG.com
Kelly Roberson, BHG.com
Kelly Roberson, BHG.com
and Jessica Bennett, BHG.com
Jessica Bennett, BHG.com
Jessica Bennett, BHG.com
August 31, 2021 Updated: August 31, 2021

Compare a clean window with a dirty one, and the contrast is clear. Streak- and grime-free windows offer a lovely way to enjoy the outdoors, as well as an uninterrupted path for sunshine to enter into your home’s interior. But many people avoid this task because they are unsure how to clean windows. Luckily, it takes just a bit of planning and a little elbow grease.

Here are six must-follow steps for cleaning windows.

Test the Temperature

Don’t want to waste a sunny day chasing away the dirt and grime on windows? You’re not alone—and you’re in luck. One of the best pieces of advice for how to clean windows is to pick a cloudy day. The absence of sunlight will help to minimize the chance of streaks because heat makes window-cleaning solution evaporate faster than you can wipe it off. Lack of glaring sunlight also enables you to better see—and better clean—the windows.

To quickly test the temperature, touch the window glass. If it’s hot to the touch, wait for a cooler day.

Remove Dust and Dirt

No window-washing job is complete without using your vacuum first. Dust and dirt can accumulate inside the sills of your windows, and once that gets wet, you’ll be left with muddy streaks to clean up. That’s why an essential step in cleaning windows properly is to hook up the vacuum and use hose attachments to clean out the interior side of your windows. While you’re at it, use the vacuum to suck up dust or bugs that have gathered at the window closing. Then wipe off any lingering dirt and cobwebs with a wet cloth to reduce grimy smears.

Clean Outside

There’s one crucial step that many people skip: an exterior hose-down. Close all your windows and use a garden hose to spray the outside. You’ll remove the first layer of dirt and make the detail work that much easier.

Clean Inside

How you wash individual windows depends on the type of windows you have. Newer versions flip open, enabling you to clean both the outside and inside from the same spot. Older ones might be stationary, which means you’ll have to use a ladder to clean the exteriors. Be sure to find a ladder you feel comfortable on. If you have a window you’d have to reach for, leave it to the pros.

Clean indoor glass panes with a window cleaner. Most windows will allow you to remove the screens and clean them separately. Screens can be cleaned with warm, soapy water, either on a paved outside area or in a bathtub.

Use a System

Enlist the family for help. Have one person work inside, wiping windows horizontally, while another person wipes outside vertically. That way, you’ll know which side the dirt or streaks are on.

Dry the Glass

There are few things that can ruin freshly cleaned windows quicker than gobs of left-behind lint. Instead of paper towels, utilize a lint-free option, such as clean coffee filters, crumpled newsprint, or a microfiber or flour-sack towel. Alternatively, try a small squeegee with a sharp, nick-free rubber blade. This foolproof trick will make you feel like a professional window cleaning service.

How to Clean Windows With Vinegar

There are many DIY window cleaner recipes available, but our favorite starts with a vinegar base. To make your own glass cleaner, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • Distilled water

For best results, look for vinegar that says “made from grain” on the label. Funnel the ingredients into a 32-ounce spray bottle and lightly shake to mix. Spritz onto a lint-free cloth and clean your windows.

Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at BHG.com. Copyright 2021 Meredith Corporation. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Kelly Roberson, BHG.com
Kelly Roberson, BHG.com
Jessica Bennett, BHG.com
Jessica Bennett, BHG.com