If the thought of cleaning your home’s windows makes you want to run in the opposite direction, you’re not alone. In addition to what may feel like a never-ending selection of window cleaner brands and solutions, it can be frustrating to invest time into cleaning your windows, only to end up with a less-than-desirable, streaky result.
As new and replacement window experts, we know a thing or two about keeping your windows sparkling year-round. We’ve compiled a quick breakdown of how to save money by creating your own homemade window cleaner, what ingredients work best, and tips for making the entire process a little easier.
Popular Ingredients for Homemade Window Cleaner
When it comes to choosing the best window cleaner, it can be hard to know which ingredients and brands suit your needs. If you’re looking to save a little money and find an eco-friendlier way to maintain streak-free windows, you may want to consider opting for a homemade window cleaner made from some of the following ingredients.
Distilled white vinegar. Cleaning windows with vinegar has been a tried-and-true trick for ages, and with good reason. An easy-to-find product that you may already have in your cabinets, the acidic composition of white vinegar works efficiently to break down the film that can accumulate on your windows. For a basic vinegar cleaning solution, we recommend mixing one part distilled vinegar to 10 parts warm water in a spray bottle.
Rubbing alcohol. If you have an especially stubborn spot on your window, you can start your cleaning process by applying a solvent like rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth and rubbing it directly on the spot. Some DIY window cleaner recipes call for a diluted mix of rubbing alcohol and vinegar for a slightly more powerful cleaning solution.
Dish soap. Using a few drops of Dawn dish soap in your homemade window cleaner can help remove tough grime, which may be helpful when washing the exterior of your windows.
Essential oils. While the scent of distilled vinegar or rubbing alcohol typically fades within moments of use, you may want to add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to your homemade window cleaning solution for a fresher-smelling result. Adding lemon essential oil is a popular choice for creating a clean and cheerful aroma.
Pro Tip: If you decide to purchase a standard window cleaner instead of making your own vinegar window cleaner, avoid using those that are heavily based in ammonia or alcohol. They may seem like they’d produce a more intense clean, but in reality, they can leave window streaks and even a thin film that attracts dust and moisture.
How to Clean Windows Without Streaks
Now that you’ve prepared your ideal window solution (or purchased your favorite window cleaner from the store!), you can get started on the process of cleaning your windows. While it may seem straightforward, we’ve outlined a few tips and steps that will streamline your cleaning process and ensure you end up with clean windows without streaks.
Step One: Prep Your Windows
In order to avoid spreading around dust, dirt, and other debris after you’ve just polished up your windows, you’ll want to clean out your window tracks, dust your frames, and wipe down your window ledges before you start. Next, use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to wipe the dust from the glass panes. This way, you’ll avoid dust mixing with your window cleaning solution once you get started. Cleaning all other parts of your window also gives you a chance to check their functionality and know when it may be time for replacement windows.
Pro Tip: No matter how stubborn certain stuck-on materials may be, never use a razor or any other kind of blade to scrape them off. This can cause permanent scratches and leave your windows more vulnerable to breaking in the future.
Step Two: Work Top to Bottom
We recommend using a lint-free microfiber cloth to clean your windows, as paper towels are more likely to leave behind lint and fibers that can make your clean windows appear dirty. Additionally, you’ll want to consider applying your glass cleaner spray directly to the microfiber cloth, instead of spritzing the window itself. This can help prevent any cleaning solutions from getting on your wood, fiberglass or vinyl frames, as they may discolor the finish.
Work your microfiber cloth in a zig-zag motion down the window, starting at the top. Once you’ve completed the entire pane, grab a dry microfiber cloth to buff out any remaining solution residue. You’ll want to do this quickly after cleaning in order to prevent streaks, so if you have multiple windows to clean, it’s best to do them fully one at a time.
For washing larger windows and hard-to-reach outdoor windows, a squeegee may be more suitable and expedite the cleaning process. You can mix a slightly more diluted solution in a bucket, wash with a sponge, and clean the solution from the windows by wiping from the top of the window down with your squeegee. Wipe the edge of the squeegee clean after each swipe to help avoid dripping.
Pro Tip: If you find that you still have window streaks, rinse your window with water and dry it a second time.
Step Three: Enjoy the View Through Your Streak-Free Window
It’s natural to want your windows (old or new) to look as spotless as the day they were installed. Clean, streak-free windows can allow more light into your home and can make you feel more connected to the outdoors.
Whether you’re using vinegar to clean windows or choosing a trusted window cleaner from the store, these tips can help you get the best results for the least amount of effort. If you’re not confident in your window cleaning abilities or need a little extra help with window maintenance, you can always lean on the expertise of professionals.