You’ll be amazed at how much clean windows can brighten up your home. They look far, far better and can actually allow considerably more light to enter the home, even if they were only slightly grimy before.
Before you go and grab your go-to rag and some window-cleaning chemical, why not get some advice from the professionals about how to clean windows effectively? Let us walk you through the process and give you some key dos and don’ts to achieve the best possible clarity.
Things you’ll need
- A bucket
- An old towel
- Washing-up liquid
- A large sponge or window-washer
- A good squeegee
- Some clean, dry microfibre cloths
- A lemon
- Some newspaper
Step 1: Preparation
Fill your bucket with warm water and add approximately a tablespoon of washing-up liquid. Try to avoid getting bubbles in the bucket – you’ll know you have too much detergent if you get a foam in the bucket. Too much soap leaves streaks, so start again if you get a foam.
Be advised, we do not recommend washing your upstairs windows, regardless of how comfortable you feel climbing a ladder. You will be working with a lot of water and, unless you have the right training and safety equipment, it can become dangerous very quickly. A window cleaning professional is the best option for washing the upstairs windows.
Step 2: Clean the window frames
You are now ready to start with the frames. Beginning with the outside is best because it means spillage and dribbles aren’t an issue.
Dip your sponge in the water, squeeze it lightly and wipe the frames thoroughly. If you haven’t done this job for a while, you may need to rub quite vigorously. Begin rubbing lightly and, if the dirt won’t shift, start to press harder. It will be easier next time.
When you have wiped everything, take one of your dry cloths to remove the excess water off the frame.
Step 3: Clean the window panes
Now you need to dip your sponge into the water again, then squeeze it hard. You need the sponge to be damp, not dripping wet. If you have a window washer (a T-shaped tool with a handle and a sponge bar) dip it in the water, lift it out and squeeze out the unwanted water by running a finger along its length.
You are now ready to start wetting the pane. In most cases, the glass will only require a light wash. There may be some more stubborn marks, in which case you will have to rub a little harder. Tree sap can be particularly challenging, so if your window is situated below a tree or shrub, it might be necessary to use something more abrasive than a sponge. A light scourer or a cloth might work better, but don’t use anything too scratchy.
Step 4: Rinse with the squeegee
The removal of the water is the key to achieving a good finish. You cannot call your windows clean until you have completed this step, because the water they are covered in is dirty. If you leave the water to dry naturally, it will leave the dirt behind, which will now be combined with sticky soap.
Here’s the secret: wrap one finger in a dry cloth and drag it from top to bottom down one edge of the glass. This will leave you with a single line approximately 1cm wide right next to the frame. You do this because the squeegee will not fit into the angle between the pane and the window frame. Right-handed people should dry the left edge, and left-handed people do the opposite.
Now, beginning at the top corner, place the squeegee on the window in the dry patch you have just made, touching the frame. Pull it horizontally to the opposite side, then rotate the squeegee, keeping it pressed against the frame, so that it ends up horizontal along the bottom of the dried area.
At this point, you should dry the squeegee with a cloth. Then, go on to repeat the step above, overlapping slightly with the previous sweep. Keep repeating these horizontal sweeps until you reach the bottom, remembering to dry the squeegee each time.
You should be left with a slight puddle at the bottom of the frame. Flick off what you can with the squeegee and dry the remnants with a clean cloth. A single cloth should be good for about 6-8 windows before you need to switch to a new one.
It shouldn’t be necessary to dry the pane any more after squeegeeing. Any remaining water will evaporate.
Step 5: Go inside
The cleaning process for the inside of the window is the same as the outside. However, you should put some towels of sheets on your carpets and window ledges to protect against splashing.
If you prefer not to use detergents, there are some non-toxic solutions. Pour some white vinegar into a spray bottle to squirt over the pane. The power of lemon is also a popular option. Simply cut a lemon in half and rub the juice all over the pane. These solutions can be very effective – simply wipe off the liquid with newspaper to finish.
Window Cleaning Tools and gadgets
There are various items you can buy to assist with your window cleaning. Your decision about whether to invest in one will depend on how committed you are to getting the best results. Here are three popular items:
- Steam cleaner – these can be either hand-held or in the more traditional canister-and-tube form. They come with cloth, squeegee and scraper attachments. The pressurised steam cleans the windows and is also supposed to eradicate germs so you don’t need to use detergent. They are also fantastic for cleaning mirrors, tiling grout, shower screens and various items of furniture.
- Extendable cleaner – Your cloth and squeegee come attached to a long pole to enable you to reach upstairs windows without using a ladder. There are two versions: a basic extending pole and one that includes a system to pump water up to the top. These can be more useful if you are a regular window cleaner but, when your windows are particularly dirty, you may not be able to get the pressure and precision to get the job done well.
- Window vac – wash your windows using soapy water then suck it away with a vacuum squeegee to achieve a no-streak finish.
Window cleaning like an expert
There you have our guide to cleaning windows like a professional. If it looks a little complicated, give it a go and you’ll find it really isn’t. Find the method that works for you and commit to doing it regularly. You’ll be amazed at how much more light you get in your home!