6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Windows

Pollution and dirt slowly build up on your windows, both inside and out, making it hard to see out and blocking valuable sunlight. Is that the worst thing? Thick streaks were left behind by cleaning that wasn’t done right.

Follow this cleaning advice from Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, to keep your view free of streaks and your houseplants happy. If you use the right tools and methods to clean your windows, they will never have looked better.

Window Cleaning Mistake #1: Choosing a sunny day to clean your windows.

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“If you do this job in the hot sun, the cleaner will dry on the hot windows before you can wipe it off, leaving streaks that are hard to get off,” says Forte. If the weather is bad, start on the side of the house that is in the shade.

Window Cleaning Mistake #2: Spraying cleaner on top of dirt and dust.

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Before you start, use a brush to sweep the dirt off the window frame or use a handheld vacuum or the dust attachment on your machine to pick it up. This will keep dirt from mixing with a cleaner and making a muddy mess. If your window screen looks especially dirty, take it out and wash it with hot, soapy water and a soft brush. Rinse and let it dry before putting it back in.

Forte says that the fastest way to dust shades and blinds is to use a microfiber duster on both sides or to open the slats and wipe each one with a damp cloth and then a dry one.

Window Cleaning Mistake #3: Skimping on window cleaner.

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Don’t be shy about how much you spray, especially if your windows look especially dirty. “You need a lot of cleaners to break up and suspend the dirt so it can be wiped away completely. If you don’t use enough, you’ll see streaks,” says Forte.

If you’d rather do it yourself, you can try making this vinegar cleaner:

Homemade Glass Cleaner:

  • 2 cups of liquid.
  • 1/2 cup vinegar, either white or cider.
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol 70 percent concentration.

Put all of the ingredients into a spray bottle. For safety, write the ingredients on the outside of the bottle if you have kids or pets.

If you live in a place where the water is hard, you might want to use distilled water to clean your glasses. Also, the vinegar in this do-it-yourself cleaner will help with those stains that just won’t come out. The minerals left behind by hard water can be washed away, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This is because vinegar is acidic.

Window Cleaning Mistake #4: Using an old cotton rag to dry your windows.

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Some people like to dry windows with newspaper, but reusable microfiber cloths are better. Forte says, “They are very absorbent, can be washed, and leave the glass shiny and without streaks.”

Try Casabella Microfiber Glass Cloths. They have a special honeycomb texture that picks up water spots, smudges, and dirt without scratching mirrors and glass.

Choose a good brand of paper towels if you’d rather use them. Weak paper towels can fall apart and leave behind lint.

Window Cleaning Mistake #5: Wiping with a squeegee.

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Forte says, “Professional window cleaners swear by them, but you have to know how to use them right.” “When you use a squeegee, where does the water go? The ground.”

She doesn’t use squeegees, especially on small panes, because they can make a mess and drip. However, they can be helpful on bigger, picture windows.

Window Cleaning Mistake #6: Cleaning all your windows in one day.

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Forte says that you only need to clean your windows once or twice a year, and it’s easier if you do it room by room. When you’re cleaning, wipe one side of the window horizontally and the other side vertically. If there are any streaks, it will be easy to tell if they are on the outside or the inside.