How to Clean Windows
From Consumer Reports How to Clean Practically Anything (Fourth Edition/Updated), © 1996
In today’s busy world, cleaning windows is often an afterthought. Here are some tips to make it a bit easier.
Pick a cloudy day to wash your windows – sunlight will dry them too quickly and cause streaking. Window glass will stay cleaner longer if you wash the window screens and frames before you wash the windows.
Use a commercial window cleaner such as Windex or use a recipe for an effective homemade window cleaner with ammonia and rubbing alcohol. The ammonia cuts dirt and oil, and the alcohol cleans polar soils and helps the water evaporate quickly, so the windows do not streak. The following recipe is especially useful for heavily soiled windows:
Mix ½ cup sudsy ammonia, 1 pint rubbing alcohol and 1 Tablespoon hand dishwashing liquid (do not use more than 1 T or streaking may result). Top mixture off with enough water to make one gallon.
Plain household ammonia in water (1/2 cup per gallon on warm water) also works well for less soiled windows.
Wash windows with a non-linting cloth or a sponge dipped in the cleaning solution. If you are using a commercial cleaner, follow the product instructions. After washing, either squeegee the window, as professionals do, or dry it with another clean, dry, absorbent, lint-free cloth or paper towel.
Professionals use natural sponge applicators and rubber squeegees, but some people swear by newspapers. Unfortunately, newspaper isn’t very absorbent, and it takes a fair amount of wiping and rubbing to clean and polish a window with it. Newspaper also blackens your hands and leaves ink smudges around window muntins (vertical or horizontal bars between the panes of glass in a window, also known as mullions).
Any glass cleaner, even plain water, can soften latex paint on muntins and sills around a window. Therefore, blot spilled window cleaner off painted surfaces without hard rubbing. The paint should harden once it has dried.