Over time, pollution and grime accumulate slowly but surely on your windows, obstructing your view and blocking precious sunlight. Is the only thing worse? Thick streaks left behind by improper cleaning.
To keep your vista clear (and your light-loving houseplants happy), follow this expert advice from Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. With the right spray, cloth, and technique, your windows will have never looked better.
1. Choose a dry, cloudy day.
"Do this job in the blazing sun and the cleaner will dry onto the hot windows before you get to wipe it off, leaving hard-to-remove streaks," Forte says. If the weather won't cooperate, start on the shady side of the house.
2. Remove dirt and dust first.
Before you get started, sweep dirt from the window frame with a brush or vacuum it up with your machine's dusting attachment. This will prevent dirt from turning into a muddy mess when mixed with a cleaner. If your window screen looks especially grimy, pop it out and wash with hot, sudsy water and a soft brush, then rinse and let dry before putting it back.
For quickly dusting shades and blinds, Forte recommends going over both sides with a microfiber duster or opening the slats and going over each one with a damp cloth and followed by a dry one.
TIP: You can also refresh your curtains at the same time by putting them in the dryer for 15 minutes on an "air-only" cycle and rehanging quickly to prevent wrinkles.
3. Pick the right cleaner — and spritz generously.
Don't hold back on the spray, especially if your windows look extra dirty. "You need plenty of cleaner to dissolve and suspend the dirt so it can be completely wiped away — skimp and you'll be seeing streaks," Forte says.
4. Use a microfiber cloth
Some folks like drying panes with newspaper, but you're better off reusable microfiber cloths. "They are super absorbent, washable, and leave the glass shiny and streak-free," Forte says.
Try Casabella Microfiber Glass Cloths, which have a special honeycomb texture to nab water spots, smudges, and dirt from mirrors and glass without scratching.
5. Skip the squeegee.
"Professional window cleaners swear by them, but you have to know how to use them right," Forte says. "You squeegee down and where does the water go? On the floor."
Because of the potential mess and drip factor, she avoids using squeegees, especially for small panes, but they can be more helpful on bigger, picture windows.
6. Break it down.
You only need to clean your windows once or twice a year, Forte says, but it's even easier if you divide the job up and do it room by room. When you're cleaning, wipe one side of the window horizontally and the other vertically. If any streaks do form, you'll easily know whether they're on the outside or the inside.