How often should you?

How often you should clean your windows — and the right way to do it

Nothing says “dreary” like dirty windows. They obstruct the outside view, restrict sunlight and give an unkempt appearance to even the prettiest of houses.

But nothing says “WORK!” like cleaning them. So how do you solve this conundrum? Depending on the size of the task — spot cleaning or washing every window inside and out — there are a couple of ways to get the job done.

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Microfiber method

Green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert uses a made-for-glass microfiber cloth slightly dampened with water to spot-clean fingerprints and smudges from windows.

For thorough cleanings, which should be done twice a year, she recommends first removing built-up scum, algae and grime on exterior windows using an old, wet towel and a bucket of water with a drop or two of dish detergent. Dry windows using a made-for-glass microfiber cloth. If you need extra cleaning power, use a DIY cleaner (a few drops of dish soap, a half cup of white vinegar and three cups distilled water). Mix and spray onto windows. Change or wash microfiber cloth when it starts leaving residue behind.

(Hint: To make it easier to spot areas you may have missed, clean the interior windows using vertical strokes and the exterior windows using horizontal strokes.)

To clean sills, wipe with large-looped microfiber. Sweep away debris in window tracks using an old, clean paintbrush. Clean hard to reach places using a toothbrush.

Squeegee solution

As effective as hand-wiping is, if you’re cleaning lots of panes, hand-wiping can be a real pain in the biceps. For these larger jobs, Erin McDermott, communications specialist at Window Genie, a national home services franchise, recommends using a sponge, a rubber-edge squeegee, a microfiber cloth and a bucket of water with a few drops of dish detergent.

Using the sponge, apply cleaning solution, giving an extra scrub to areas with built-up dirt. Remove water using the squeegee, taking care to wipe the blade after each stroke. This keeps the grime from building up and scratching the surface of the windows. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe up drips.

Window caveats

Do not clean in direct sunlight or while the glass is hot. If the solution dries too quickly, it will actually cause streaking and leave behind a film that will attract dust/dirt.

Clean your screens when you clean your windows (twice a year or as needed). If not, the dirt on the screens will end up on your windows with the first rain.

Practice ladder safety

When cleaning windows that are high enough off the ground that a ladder is involved, there are a few safety points to keep in mind:

  • Stay alert — even on a step ladder. Most ladder-related injuries actually occur on step ladders that stand only three-to-six feet tall.
  • Keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times —two feet and one hand.
  • Never set up a ladder on slippery surfaces such as: pebbles, rocks, sand, wet grass, an incline, edging stones, area rugs, snow, ice or newly stained decks.
  • Ladders should have leg levers to make an exterior surface level and stabilizer bars to keep from sliding side to side.