Window Cleaning 101

Window cleaning is good honest work. One of the great things about cleaning windows is that each window is a job in itself. It has a quick start and finish which means you can create an accomplishment in only a few minutes. You might think that this is a small thing but a quality window cleaning is a source of satisfaction. Taking pride in the result is one of the joys of being a window washer. Homeowners that do their own window cleaning can experience this same joy by following some simple guidelines for cleaning their windows inside and outside. You too can clean windows like a pro, without streaking and without haze. When you are done, go out to the curb and look back on your house. You’ll be proud!

We suggest cleaning your windows on a cloudy day or when the sun is not shining directly on them. That way the window is less likely to dry before you have a chance to wipe it clean.

Exterior Window Cleaning Techniques

Sometimes the simplest tasks are the hardest to do well. You CAN clean your exteriors like a pro. You just need to follow some simple rules.

The outside windows collect a good deal of dirt, dust, pollen, and pollution. You want to remove the loose dirt from your windows before you begin in earnest. The first thing to do is rinse the windows with simple water from the hose. This will also cool down the windows and reduce evaporation on hot sunny days. Don’t pressure wash. While some siding and windows can withstand pressure washing, some cannot.

Fill a bucket with cool water and add a couple drops of liquid detergent or a commercial cleaning product like Unger Pro Formula. Make sure you pick a cleaner that is biodegradable containing no phosphates. The detergent will help break down oils that have adhered to the window from pollution.

You do not want to scratch the windows. Use a microfiber cloth such as Zwipes or a microfiber mop like those from Libman. Rinse the cloth frequently to remove any built-up grit or grime. Clean into the corners thoroughly including using a small tool such as a toothbrush or nail brush. Trapped dirt and scum in the corners tend to smear during the drying phase when not thoroughly cleaned. When you are done and before the window dries, rinse it again with the hose.

Mop or spray the window with a 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water solution. Vinegar is very acidic and it is this acid that breaks down and dissolves any leftover soap scum or remains of hard water minerals that can result in streaking.

Using a squeegee, remove the water solution from the window. Make sure to wet the squeegee before you begin. A dry squeegee is likely to skip. Use top to bottom motion or a snake pattern with overlap between rows. When working across the row keep the squeegee with the top of the blade leading the bottom of the blade by at least 2 inches. That way the water will be forced down the window instead of up. Keep the blade angled at 45 degrees to the window and clean the blade with a clean cloth after each pass. To make cleaning easy, tuck one corner of the cloth in your pocket. That way you can swipe the blade across the cloth in one motion and without letting go of anything.

The best kind of squeegee to use is one with a natural rubber blade and ergonomic handle. This will make the job easier and reduce strain. Since squeegees are so inexpensive it does not make sense to skimp on this essential tool. Keep some spare blades around and change them relatively frequently to save yourself headaches.Ettore is a major supplier of commercial professional squeegees that work well.

Interior Window Cleaning Techniques

Inside windows tend to be less dirty and gritty than exterior windows. They tend to have more grease build up due to kitchen cooking and (small peoples) hands. Cleaning the windows is straightforward.

Before you begin to place a large bath towel below the window to catch any spills.

Fill a bucket with cool water and add a couple drops of liquid detergent or a commercial cleaning product like Unger Pro Formula. Make sure you pick a cleaner that is biodegradable containing no phosphates. The detergent will help break down oils that have adhered to the window from pollution.

You do not want to scratch the windows. Use a microfiber cloth such as Zwipes or a microfiber mop like those from Libman. As with the exteriors, you want to make sure to rinse the cloth frequently to remove any built-up grit or grime. Clean into the corners thoroughly including using a small tool such as a toothbrush or nail brush. The trapped dirt and scum in the corners tend to smear during the drying phase when not thoroughly cleaned. When you are done, before the window dries, rinse the window.

Mop or spray the window with a 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water solution. Vinegar is very acidic and it is this acid that breaks down and dissolves any leftover soap scum or remains of hard water minerals that can result in streaking.

Dry the window using a clean lint-free towel such as those from Caldrea. Some people like to use a black and white print newspaper. A newspaper is a cheap way to do a fast window cleaning. Its tight fiber and high absorbency make it a suitable alternative.

Special Window Cleaning Problems

Sometimes you just get things on your windows that are just plain hard to remove.  Normal cleaning just does not do the trick.  We’ve compiled some of the more common problems people run into and give you a few tips on how to tackle them.

Removing stickers from windows

We’ve all done it; put a sticker on a window and then wondered later why in the world we did it!  No problem, there are a number of techniques for removing these sometimes embarrassing items. Try this trick:

Put oil on the sticker; baby oil, cooking oil, or machine oil.  Let it sit overnight and soak in.  If the sticker has a plastic coating, peel the coating off first so that the oil can penetrate the paper.  The next day pick a corner and start peeling it slowly.  If it tears let it sit a bit longer.  If it just will not behave then use a single edge razor blade or plastic pot scraper on it.

The reason this trick usually works is that most glue used on stickers is petroleum based.  When the oil is applied to the sticker it acts as a solvent dissolving the petroleum adhesive.

Once the sticker is removed you will want to remove the remaining oil residue using a commercial glass cleaner or mild detergent.

Removing paint from a window

house paint removal

No matter how hard you try, it seems paint splatters are inevitable when you are doing house painting.  Even tiny spray on a window is annoying.  When you want to get the paint off the glass, the thing to pay particular attention to is to make sure you do not scratch the glass.  Because of that, the best thing to do is to use a gentle method to get the paint off.  Try using hot vinegar to loosen the paint.  Boil distilled vinegar.  Brush it onto the paint and let it soak in.  Using a vinegar soaked rag, scrub the spots off.  Be careful to take precautions with boiling vinegar.  Of course, the hot liquid can burn you if you are not careful you may clear your sinuses more than you want to.  Hot vinegar is pungent and you should be careful of the smell.

If the vinegar did not remove all of the paint you will have to resort to scraping.  Use a safety razor available at any big box department store like Home Depot.  Use soapy water to wet the window and the paint spots.  It will provide a slippery surface to help keep the window from being scratched.  Hold the razor blade at a 45-degree angle and scrape in one direction.  Do not go back and forth or change directions.  Make sure to keep the window wet as you proceed.

Once you are done, use a window cleaner such as Windex to freshen up the window.

spray paint removal

If you find yourself the target of malicious actions and have spray paint on your windows, you need a different trick.  Don’t worry it is simple!  The best way to remove spray paint is to use Easy Off Oven Cleaner.  Do not use a replacement cleaner as they will not necessarily work.

First thing is to mask off your window frames and painted surfaces.  Easy Off is caustic and will remove the paint off of your window frames also.  Use plastic film and masking or painters tape.

The second thing is to make sure you wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from the cleaner.  Make sure the area is well ventilated as well.  You do not want to breathe these fumes.

Spray the painted glass with the Easy Off and let it sit for 30 seconds.  Using a soft rag, scrub the area.  The paint will come right off.  If it is thick you may need several passes to remove it all.

Once you are done, clean the glass with Windex and a soft lint free rag.