Imagine you’ve found the house of your dreams. The listing looks great, the size is right, and it’s in the right neighborhood. You drive up all excited, only to find you can barely see inside. The windows are caked in dust, dirt, and grime! It’s seriously off-putting.
Window cleaning may not be the most exciting of home maintenance tasks, but it’s probably one of the most important. A set of gleaming windows – the eyes of your house – give an impression that’s hard to beat. It also helps your windows last longer and improves heating efficiency.
A streak-free finish can be a struggle for many of us, but with our pro tips, we’ll soon have the light flooding in.
Read on for ten pro tips for cleaning your windows.
1. Choose Your Glass Cleaner Carefully
Supermarket glass cleaners usually use ammonia, alcohol, or vinegar. Some are specifically for hard water stains. Others are general purpose.
Some consumers prefer to avoid household cleaners that include harsh chemicals, like ammonia. If that’s you, watch out for some of the market leaders. Their ammonia-D formulation has a potent smell, and some users may find it uncomfortable to use it for long periods.
Also, ammonia and alcohol-based glass cleaners can leave a film on the windows. This film then traps dust.
On the other hand, ammonia-based cleaners are inexpensive and effective at removing dirt and grime. They can also give a streak-free finish when used properly. If you prefer a less potent alternative, look out for vinegar-based options that are now on the market. You can also make your own vinegar-based cleaner.
If you choose to use a water-based method of window cleaning, you can make your own solution. A squirt of dishwashing soap in a bucket of warm water is all you need.
2. Treat Stuck-on Matter First
Sadly, the best squeegee in the world will not take off bird poop in a single pass. Especially if it’s been there a while. With issues like this, it’s better to address them first before giving the window a final clean.
Hard, stuck-on matter like paint may need to be removed with a razor. Otherwise, a solvent is the best option. For many things, like bird poop, all it needs is a good soak. Simply soak it in a solution of warm, soapy water, leave it for a minute or two, and it will usually wipe away.
Depending on the time of stain, occasionally you may need to use rubbing alcohol or acetone to remove the stain first. These usually work very quickly. Once they’ve removed the stain, thoroughly clean the window.
3. Use a Razor – Very Carefully!
Using a razor to clean windows may sound crazy, but it’s a vital tool in every window cleaner’s work belt. You need to use it with care, as there is a very real risk of scratching the window if it is not used properly. If you do not feel confident, try a solvent-based method for removing whatever is stuck on.
A razor is incredibly useful for removing hard, stuck-on dirt from windows. This could be anything from dried-up labels, flecks of paint or spackle, or even glue. Here’s how to use it like a pro:
- Get a specialist window cleaning razor with a handle
- Always use a fresh blade for each job
- Take your time
- Wet the window first
- Push the blade across once gently but firmly
- Carefully clean the blade on a rag
- Repeat if necessary
Done carefully and used safely, a window cleaning razor can be extremely effective. Prevention is better than cure though. If you’re having your house painted, make sure the windows are well covered before anyone gets a brush out.
4. Invest in Good Quality Window Cleaning Equipment
If you’re serious about keeping your windows pristine, invest in professional standard equipment. Cleaning your windows is so much easier when you have:
- Professional quality squeegee with replaceable blades
- Replacement blades
- Applicator (for applying soapy water to windows)
- Extendable pole
- High-quality microfiber cloths
- Chamois leather (optional)
- Ladders (if you have upstairs windows)
- Window cleaning work belt
- Razor with handle
Having the right equipment will save you time and effort. It also produces higher-quality results. With a little practice, you’ll master the techniques involved and complete the house in record time.
5. Clean the Frame First
Before you attack the glass, spare a few moments for the frames.
Usually, unless you’re cleaning really dirty windows, the frames only take a few moments. Take a damp microfiber cloth. Starting at the top far corner, wipe the top of the frame. Move to a clean part of the cloth to clean the sides and finish by cleaning the bottom and the sill.
Giving the frame a thorough clean first will improve the overall appearance. Plus it removes dirt from the area around the glass which can easily be blown or washed onto the glass next time it rains.
6. Use the Squeegee Like a Pro
Whether you choose to use a glass cleaner or a soapy solution, your squeegee technique can be the difference between streaks or no streaks.
First of all, your squeegee needs to be clean and the blade should be sharp. If you have had the squeegee for a while, consider purchasing a new blade. They are inexpensive and can be quickly swapped out. Have a rag to hand for cleaning the squeegee blade and a microfiber cloth for finishing the window.
Apply the solution to the window. Take a clean squeegee and place it at right angles to the top edge of the window frame. Place the blade along the right-hand edge. In a steady movement, pull the squeegee along with the window, toward the opposite corner.
When the top end of the squeegee meets the top left corner of the window, pull the squeegee downwards. Now work back and forth across the window. Wipe away the solution, working your way diagonally down to the bottom.
Then, clean your squeegee blade with the rag. Use the microfiber to wipe any residue of the solution away. Now check the window and use the microfiber to buff away and spots or streaks.
This technique takes a little practice, but it produces the most seamless result. A simpler technique is to work from the top to the bottom of the window. Pull the squeegee downwards, wiping it after each pass, and move it along until you have finished the entire window. Then go back with the microfiber and buff away any streaks.
7. Buff to Perfection
To get streak-free results every time, a high-quality microfiber cloth is a great tool. There is no officially grading system for microfiber cloths. A good way to check is to look for a tight weave. Hold it up to the light and see how much it lets through.
A high-quality, tightly woven microfiber will let very little light through. It may feel stiff at first. This will give you the best results. They are highly absorbent, so an excellent choice for wiping away the cleaning solution. Use them to safely clean the window frame at the same time.
A dry microfiber cloth is excellent for buffing windows to a gleaming shine. An alternative to microfiber is a traditional favorite of window cleaners – chamois leather cloth. This highly absorbent form of leather does the same job and cleans to an excellent shine.
Even if you don’t have a microfiber or chamois cloth, always use a lint-free cloth to wipe with. This means a cloth that will not leave any fibers on the window after. Avoid using paper towels as they leave fibers that will be visible.
8. Use Ladders Safely
Ladders safety is a very serious matter. Before ever using a ladder for window cleaning, you must familiarize yourself with how to use them safely. The American Ladder Institute provides free guidelines on the safe use of ladders. If you are ever in doubt, check with a professional first.
Make sure that you follow the three points of contact rule at all times when using a ladder. If you are using an extendable ladder for high windows, only work in an area you can comfortably reach. Never overextend yourself while using a ladder.
Having the right equipment will help. If you have a window cleaning tool belt, you can keep all your tools safely to hand. This will free up your hands when climbing and coming down the ladder.
Try to avoid using ladders where possible. A good alternative is to use an extendable pole. The applicator can be attached and then swapped out for the squeegee. Many professional window cleaners also put a microfiber on the end of an extendable pole to finish off the edges. This is much safer than using a ladder if you are unsure of how to use one properly.
9. Choose the Right Day for Window Cleaning
Professional window cleaners work every day unless it’s raining, right? That’s true, but they also work fast and have all the right equipment. If you’re a less experienced window cleaner then pick your day carefully.
If you choose a hot, sunny day the chances are that your solution will start to dry on your windows before you can remove it. That means one thing – streaks!
The safest thing to do is choose a day for window cleaning that is dry and cloudy. Without direct sunlight on the windows, you will have time to follow the steps outlined above. This will give you the very best chance of achieving the streak-free finish you’re looking for.
To keep your windows to a high standard the outside should be cleaned every 6-8 weeks. If you live in a dusty area or near a busy road, you may need to clean them more regularly. Unless you have little hands frequently touching inside windows, usually a thorough clean is only needed every 3-4 months.
10. Hire a Professional
Keeping your windows in tip-top condition is hard. Even with the points we’ve discussed, it takes a regular investment of time and effort to maintain the sparkle. That’s where the professionals come in.
If you hire the best window cleaners in your area, you won’t be disappointed. They pride themselves on reliability, safety, and top-notch results every time. Make sure the company you choose is highly rated by clients. Read their online reviews. Check out whether they’ve received any awards for their customer service.
It’s also important to make sure they are licensed and insured. Some window cleaning companies do not meet this standard, which puts your property at risk. If you choose to have them clean inside, make sure you are confident they are trustworthy and can safely be allowed into your home.
The best window cleaners have satisfied customers – and they’re not afraid to talk about it. Check out online testimonials on any company you’re researching. They may also be able to connect you with some of their current clients so you can get direct feedback.
Keeping Windows Bright and Gleaming
Nobody wants dirty windows, and we hope our tips for cleaning your windows have shown you that it is possible to achieve a streak-free finish. Get the right equipment, practice your squeegee technique, and you’ll master window cleaning in no time.
Alternatively, hire a window cleaning company to take the hard work out of it. They’re safe, reliable, and insured. It’s a low-risk and high return way to keep your house looking a million dollars.
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