Never underestimate the impact of clean windows. They’re one of those things whose importance you don’t realize until after it’s done, and then you wonder how you could stand living with them being dirty! The insides of windows are a snap to clean, but the outsides can be a little trickier. As long as you have the right tools, cleaning exterior windows needn’t be an impossible task. It’s amazing what a great effect a clear view through to the outdoors can have on your interior, so be sure to add cleaning exterior windows to your spring cleaning to-do list.
The most basic tools for cleaning exterior windows are paper towels and some type of cleaner. Try to use thicker, stiffer paper towels versus soft ones, which tend to have more lint. Newspaper is also commonly used for window cleaning and is fairly lint-free, but you may want to wear gloves, as newsprint will come off on your hands. Using soft, lint-free cloths is another option. Old tee shirts that have been washed several times will work, or you can purchase microfiber cloths. When washing microfiber cloths, don’t use fabric softener, which will lessen their absorbency.
Squeegees are used by professional window cleaning companies, so you may want to invest in one yourself. Be sure to select one that is the appropriate size for your windows, particularly if your windows have small panes. Many squeegees have telescoping rods for higher, harder-to-reach windows and some are two-sided, with a scrub brush opposite the squeegee.
Other items you’ll want to have on hand when cleaning exterior windows include a hose, a bucket, a broom, a scrub brush, and a vacuum.
You can buy any of the commercially available window cleaners or make your own. Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar or ammonia with two quarts of water for basic cleaning. For tougher jobs, combine a half-cup ammonia, a pint of rubbing alcohol, one-teaspoon dish soap, and enough water to fill a gallon-sized container. If you have hard water stains on your windows, consider using phosphoric acid: dilute according to manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to wear protective clothing and eyewear. Apply to surface of window and allow a few minutes for it to set, then scrub with a brush and rinse very thoroughly. For hard-to-reach windows, there are also window-cleaning products that attach directly to your hose.
Choose an overcast day to do windows; sun will cause fast drying, which encourages streaking. Use a broom to remove cobwebs or other debris from windows, then rinse off excess dirt with a hose. If using a squeegee, dip brush into a bucket of cleaning solution and apply to window. Move your squeegee horizontally across the top of the window and then wipe the blade clean with a cloth. It’s best if cloth is damp, as a dry blade won’t move smoothly across the glass. Next, starting from the left, move squeegee vertically from top to bottom, wiping after each pass and overlapping strokes to prevent streaking. Finish by moving squeegee horizontally across bottom of window. Change rinse and cleaning water frequently. If using paper or cloth, spray the cleaning solution and wipe off, overlapping strokes to prevent any missed spots. Finish with a dry cloth to prevent streaks.