How to Clean Exterior Windows
The idea of washing windows might not make you jump up and down with excitement, but once it’s done, you’ll wonder what took you so long—the payoff is nearly immediate—and you can see the results of your work as you gaze out and notice how lovely your view of the world looks through clean windows.
6 Steps to Cleaner Windows
1. Gather your tools. Use the tools the pros use to get the job done in the minimum amount of time:
- Squeegee with replacement rubber blades
- Large sponge or scrubber
- Lint free rags like old t-shirts, linen towels or chamois cloth
- Dishwashing liquid
- 5 gallon bucket
2. If you’re washing windows in warmer weather, use cooler water so you can squeegee the windows before they start to streak. If you find yourself washing windows in below freezing temperatures, add a bit of windshield wiper fluid to keep the washing solution more fluid. Don’t overdo the dishwashing liquid; you’ll want a low amount of sudsing.
3. Dip the scrubber into the washing solution of 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap in 2 gallons of water. Make sure you scrub all areas of the window.
4. Tip one edge of the squeegee onto the window and pull down to get a clean, dry strip. From there, work horizontally. Concentrate on keeping the top of the squeegee in contact with the top edge of the window as you pull across the window. Position the top of the squeegee to overlap the previous stroke by about 2 inches.
Pull the squeegee across the window at an angle to direct the excess water downward. Wipe the squeegee clean and repeat. You can also work the squeegee in a ‘reverse S’ shape; if you’re left handed, you would pull the squeegee in an ‘S’ shape.
5. After each squeegee stroke, wipe the blade on the clean cloth or across the scrubber to remove dirt and excess water.
6. Wipe up excess water along the bottom edge of the window with the rag, then, wrap your finger with a dry spot on a separate lint-free rag and run it around the inner perimeter of the window to remove any remaining suds. Wipe off any streaks using a clean area of the lint-free rag. Change rags as they get dirty.
Tips for Multi-Pane Windows
1. Use a smaller squeegee, or cut down a squeegee to fit the width of the smaller pane.
2. A handheld, natural sponge or hog-bristle brush works best on multi-pane windows. Dip into the cleaning solution, and be sure to work the sponge edges or brush into the corners to loosen dirt.
3. Pull the squeegee down each pane in a single stroke from top to bottom. After each stroke, wipe off the blade with a rag so it doesn’t leave streaks. (If the squeegee squeaks a lot, add a bit more soap to the water.) As above, remove any streaks on the glass with a chamois, and dry the frame of each pane with a clean rag.
Tips for Removing Spots
1. Over time, hard-water runoff can leave stains on glass that normal washing can’t erase.
2. After a regular cleaning, you can wet the glass and gently clean it either with fine 000 steel wool (if the panes are small) or with a cleansing powder like Barkeeper’s Friend that contains oxalic acid. (Note: be sure to check the ingredients —other brands of powder may scratch the glass or fail to remove stains.)
3. Mix the powder into a paste on a wet towel and rub away the stains. Then, rinse and squeegee the glass twice to remove the residue. Be aware that the stains may reappear after six months even after this treatment.
3. A permanent solution: apply a clear polymer coating such as 3 Star Barrier Glass Surface Protectant. You apply it with an applicator, then squeegee off the excess. If you decide on this solution, be aware that you need to reapply the coating after each regular cleaning.
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