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Cleaning Window Sills and Tracks

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One spring cleaning ritual for many homeowners is an afternoon spent washing windows. It's a project that most people are comfortable with, and many have their own tried-and-true methods of getting their window glass clean and sparkling.

But have you ever taken a close look at the window sills and tracks?  With double hung or slider windows, at least a portion of the vertical and horizontal tracks are exposed to the outside elements.  And they can get pretty nasty looking with dirt, pollen, and debris build-up.  What's the best way to clean window sills and tracks?

If you have vinyl replacement windows, you may have noticed small rectangular openings on the bottom of the window frame's exterior.  These are called weep holes, which allow rainwater to drain out of the window while still allowing you to have the window open for fresh air through the screens.  These weep holes also help make the job of cleaning window tracks a lot easier.

First, you want to remove as much of the dirt and debris as you can before adding any water.  Otherwise, you'll create a muddy mess that will make cleaning more difficult.  If the area is dry, use a shop vac or paper towels to remove as much of the debris as possible.  For first floor windows, this might be easier to do from the outside of your home.  Pay attention to the vertical tracks where your window sash slides along - these can get a lot of build-up as well.

Once the bulk of the debris is gone, you can rinse the area with warm soapy water.  First make sure your weep holes are free-flowing by inserting a pipe cleaner to clear any debris.  Slowly and gently pour the soapy water along the horizontal sill to rinse any remaining debris, followed by a rinse with plain water.  (Once you're done, you may want to give your exterior siding a quick spray with a garden hose.)

For the window tracks, white vinegar is an effective cleaning solution.  You can loosen dirt in the crevices using an old toothbrush.  Then dip a Q-tip in white vinegar and wipe along all window tracks.  For double hung windows, be sure to raise or lower each sash to get the entire length of the track.  Then wipe the entire track with a paper towel.

Now that your sills and tracks look new again, you want to keep them that way.  One trick that many professionals use is to apply a coat of floor wax.  This will form a protective barrier to those areas of your window sills that are exposed to the outside elements.  A coat of floor wax will help repel debris build-up and keep your windows clean longer.

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