Sponges and squeegees make for a thorough window washing job

Getting rid of dirt and grime on your windows will help you enjoy your views, and will allow more natural light into your rooms. But few homeowners look forward to this chore.

Most homes have quite a few windows to clean, and you'll need to take care of both the exterior and interior surfaces. Many people also take on the task armed with only spray cleaner and paper towels. Joe D'Agnese, writing for This Old House, says this process tends to move dirt around instead of removing it. In addition, it can build up a static charge on the pane, allowing more dust and dirt to cling to it.

Tackling the job with sponges, squeegees, and soapy water will give you a more thorough clean. The process can also clean up your screens and frames to ensure that your windows look their best.

Before starting the cleaning process, pre-clean the windows to remove the worst of the dirt. Donna Boyle Schwartz, writing for the home improvement professional Bob Vila, says you can rinse the exteriors of the windows with a hose and wipe down the interiors with a solution of vinegar and water.

Regular dishwashing liquid is suitable for cleaning glass panes. The magazine Family Handyman says you can mix a teaspoon of this liquid with a few gallons of warm water to create an effective detergent solution.

A sponge can be used to apply soapy water to the windowpanes. However, a large scrubber or strip applicator will cover a larger area, so it can be more helpful if you have large windows or are trying to complete the job more quickly.

Coat the entire pane with soapy water to start. Schwartz says you can use a pole-mounted scrubber to reach higher windows if you prefer not to use a ladder. Try to work on a cool, cloudy day, since direct sunlight can cause the solution to dry on your windows and leave streaks behind.

Use a squeegee to remove the solution from the glass. Family Handyman recommends cutting a vertical strip along one side of the frame, then running the squeegee in a horizontal pattern from the top.

After each pass, clean the tool on a lint-free rag or towel to get rid of any remaining dirt and water. D'Agnese says linen napkins and cloth diapers will also work well to wipe down the squeegee.

Keep an eye on the condition of the squeegee. Family Handyman says the tool will leave streaks once it becomes nicked or rounded, so the blade should be replaced when you notice this issue. Lorene Bartos, writing for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension, says you should frequently replace the washing water.

Squeegees won't work well on stained glass, windows with textured glass, or painted windows. Mary H.J. Farrell, writing for Consumer Reports, says stained glass can be gently cleaned with a damp sponge and dried with a chamois. Painted windows can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

During the cleaning process, you may notice some stubborn issues such as dried paint, bird droppings, or tree sap. Schwartz says you should avoid using steel wool or other abrasive scrubbers, which can scratch the glass. Some stains can be softened with a vinegar and water solution, allowing them to be more easily removed. Family Handyman says a razor blade can be effective in scraping off residues.

Windows can sometimes be stained with mineral deposits due to hard water or runoff from masonry. D'Agnese says cleaners with oxalic acid will remove mineral stains, although they can often come back after several months. A coating of clear polymer can be a more effective method of protection.

Once you have cleaned a window, use a chamois or microfiber cloth to wipe off any remaining water. Be sure to run the cloth along the edges of the window, since water droplets can easily hide in these areas.

Check to see if other window components could use a good cleaning. Farrell says it's often a good idea to clean your curtains at the same time you wash your windows. Dirty window frames should be vacuumed and wiped down with a detergent solution, while metal channels can be polished.

Take care of the screens as well. Bartos says vacuuming is an easy way to remove dust and dirt, and exterior screens can also be wiped down with soapy water and rinsed.

It's helpful to clean your windows at least twice a year. One cleaning can take place in the autumn, when the clearer panes will allow more light to come in and warm up your home as outside temperatures drop. The second pass can be done as part of your regular spring cleaning.

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