How to Clean Windows (2024)

By Shane Sentelle Updated February 6, 2024

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Windows help create a bright and inviting atmosphere in your home. It’s important to keep them clean not only to maximize sunlight indoors, but also to prevent the buildup of dust, dirt, and other allergens that can negatively impact your home’s air quality and window function.

Follow these cleaning tips to make it look like you just replaced your windows.

 


 

Before rolling your sleeves up, you’ll need the right supplies, including the following:

 


 

How to Clean Interior Windows

Follow these steps for beautiful, streak-free windows.

Step 1: Gently Dust Around the Windows

Dust around the window frame, track, and window sill with a feather duster or vacuum before spraying it with a cleaning solution. Remove any visible buildup and get rid of any cobwebs you see in window corners. 

Don’t neglect the dust around your blinds and shades. Get between every louver or slat before pulling them to the top of the window. If you have curtains, wash them according to their instructions.

Step 2: Spray Your Windows with Glass Cleaner

Use a professional cleaning solution, such as Windex, or make a natural cleaning solution with white vinegar. Combine two parts water with one part vinegar to make a homemade window cleaner. Pour the solution into an empty spray bottle. Use rubber gloves before handling cleaning products to prevent skin irritation.

Next, spray the window with your preferred window glass cleaner. Avoid getting the solution onto the frame, window treatments, or any nonglass surfaces. This could damage your frame or window sill.

Step 3: Wipe Your Windows From Top to Bottom

Take a lint-free paper towel or microfiber cloth and wipe down each window pane in a Z-shaped motion from top to bottom. Apply light pressure to areas with extra buildup. If you see any streaks or water spots, go back over the glass with your towel or cloth until it’s clear.

 


 

How to Clean Exterior Windows

You’ll also need to clean your windows’ exterior with these steps.

Step 1: Clean Your Window Screens

Take out your window screens and use a scrubber to remove dust and dirt. If that doesn’t work, fill a bucket with a half gallon of warm water and add several drops of dishwashing liquid. Use a sponge and gently scrub the screens to remove stubborn grime. Rinse off the screens with a hose to remove any residual soap and dirt. Lay the screens out to dry and put them back once all steps are complete.

Step 2: Hose Down Your Windows

Be careful cleaning very dirty windows. If you wipe the glass with grit and loose debris, you could scratch it. Gently rinse away what you can before properly cleaning.

Step 3: Spray Glass Cleaner and Wipe Down Your Windows

Use your cleaning solution or soapy water to coat the windows. Use a step stool to clean hard-to-reach areas or a ladder to reach second-level windows. If you don’t feel comfortable in high-up areas, use an extendable pole with a cloth on the end. Wipe down the windows from top to bottom with towels, a microfiber cloth, or a sponge. Don’t neglect your window frames.

Your exterior windows may require several rounds of cleaning. For really stubborn areas, spray your solution and allow it to sit for several minutes before lightly scrubbing.

Step 4: Dry the Windows with a Squeegee

To remove excess water, wipe down the windows with a clean squeegee. Move from the top to the bottom and angle the squeegee blade toward the bottom of the window. After each pass, wipe the edge with a clean towel.

Step 5: Reinstall the Window Screens

Examine your windows inside and out for any missed spots or areas that need some more elbow grease. If everything looks good, pop your screens back into the windows once they’re dry.

 


 

Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Windows

Here are some things you should not do when cleaning your windows.

 


 

Our Recommendation

Regularly cleaning your windows can boost curb appeal, but it also helps preserve your windows’ longevity by preventing dirt and grime buildup that leads to stains or damage. Unless you have a window manufacturer’s warranty, replacement could be costly.

If you have high-up windows, limited mobility, or simply don’t want to spend time cleaning windows, we recommend hiring a professional window cleaner.

 

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How to Clean Windows FAQ

What do professional window cleaners use to clean windows?

Professional window cleaners keep it simple, using soapy water and a bucket, scrubber, and squeegee. Store-bought window cleaning products don’t guarantee a streak-free result. Soap and water or a homemade solution leave less residue.

How do you clean windows without streaking?

Experts suggest soap and water or a vinegar-based solution to remove dirt without streaking. Use a Z-shaped motion when wiping with cleaning cloths. If you see marks or smudges, you may need to use a mild detergent. Another popular suggestion is crumpled newspaper in a circular motion on the glass. This should pick up any leftover grease from the window cleaning solution.

Is vinegar and Dawn good for cleaning windows?

Common do-it-yourself (DIY) window cleaners are either vinegar-based solutions or Dawn mixed with a bucket of warm water. Combine two parts water with one part white vinegar in an empty spray bottle. Vinegar has a strong smell, but it fades quickly. If you prefer dishwashing soap, put a couple of drops of Dawn into a bucket of warm water. Use a microfiber towel or sponge to clean and rinse the windows with water after.