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Spring Cleaning: The Best Way to Clean Windows

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Over time, outside debris can build up along your window sills and tracks.  Pollen, dust, dirt, and plant material like seeds and small leaves can find their way into your window.  If not cleaned on a routine basis, this can build up to the point where it's difficult to open your windows, and could potentially damage the tracks where your window sash slides up and down.

Methods for cleaning window glass vary, and it seems everyone has a preferred method they swear by.  Store-bought cleaning solution vs. homemade, cloth vs. squeegee, paper towels vs. crumpled newspaper.  Here are a few suggestions - try a couple and see what works best for you.

  1. To clean out the sills and tracks, remove as much of the dried material as possible before adding water. Otherwise, you'll create a pile of wet muck that will be more difficult to remove. You can use a shop-vac with a brush attachment, or use a stiff brush to loosen dirt while directing the vacuum hose to that area. Be sure to do a thorough job of cleaning the vertical tracks where the double hung window sashes slide along.
  2. If your window frames have weep holes for rainwater drainage, they are also helpful to allow water to drain out of the sill when you clean them.  You can slowly pour warm soapy water along the horizontal window sill to wash away grime, then follow up with clear warm water to rinse.
  3. To get remaining dirt particles from the window tracks, use a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar to clean then wipe with a clean cloth.

Easy Homemade Cleaning Solutions

You can purchase window cleaning solution from retail stores and they work great for most window cleaning jobs.  But you can also whip up your own cleaning solution with stuff you probably already have in your house, for pennies on the dollar and with less potentially-harmful chemicals:

  1. Plain white vinegar is a great cleaning agent - take 1/4 cup of white vinegar and add it to two cups of warm water in a spray bottle.  You can also add in a tablespoon of cornstarch to give you windows extra shine.
  2. Another homemade window cleaning solution is to mix one part ammonia to three parts water.

To wipe off your cleaning solution, you have a number of options

  1. Paper towels are cheap and do a fine job, though cheaper brands tend to leave small lint particles behind.
  2. Microfiber cloths clean quite well, with the added bonus of being reusable and kinder to the environment.
  3. Another green choice is old cotton t-shirts or clean cotton diapers.
  4. Many professional window cleaners recommend using a squeegee to remove the cleaning solution from your windows. 

Use newspaper in this final step

  1. For the final step, you can crumple up newspaper to give the glass a final buff.

Welcome spring and all its glory into your home by giving your windows a thorough spring cleaning.  Besides improving the view to the outdoors and making your windows easier to operate, maintaining clean glass, sills, and tracks will help prevent unnecessary wear-and-tear on your windows, prolonging their life.