How To Clean Windows: Your 6 Step Guide

back view woman cleaning window with cloth

There’s nothing like the sight of freshly cleaned and gleaming windows after you’ve spent a great deal of time squinting through the smudges and built-up grime on the panes! Yes, much like those fancy hotel rooms that have their windows cleaned by professionals, you too can do the needful in cleaning household windows to perfection.

It’s a lot easier than most people think, however, you have to understand that there is a strict step-by-step process to follow for truly satisfactory results. Taking shortcuts is as good as spraying on glass cleaner, wiping the panes, and calling it a day. Although this approach is doable for maintaining clean windows, you can’t skip ahead until you’ve followed this thorough window cleaning guide for streak-free professional window washing! Read on.

What You’ll Need

Woman housekeeper cleaning windows

  • Drop cloths
  • Dust cloths
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Large sponge
  • Hot water
  • Spray bottle
  • Vinegar
  • Squeegee (it's okay if you don't have this)
  • Bucket
  • Cleaning solution – water, white vinegar, and liquid dish detergent
  • Microfibre cloths or a rag
  • Old toothbrush
  • Disinfectant wipes or paper towels

Now that you’ve gathered all the things you need, let’s jump right into our fool-proof guide to cleaning your home windows efficiently!

Step One: Dust Panes and Window Frame

Yellow sunflower in clear vase in front of window

Believe it or not, this is one of the most important steps if you want sparkling windows by the end of the cleaning process. It also saves time and energy by eliminating the need to work twice as hard to get rid of dirt during the steps to follow. How? Well, if you were to skip this step and go straight to washing your windows, all the dust and dirt on the glass will get smeared around when wet, creating an even bigger mess! So, to avoid this, take a dry dust cloth and wipe down the frame and window panes, inside and outside; for corners and edges, use the toothbrush to remove dust and debris.

Step Two: Vacuum Window Tracks

red vacuum cleaner on a hardwood floor

When dirt accumulates in the window tracks over time, it begins to restrict the movement of sliding windows and/or block the frame from shutting completely. Apart from this, dirty window tracks are unpleasant for household members and guests to look at! Cleaning the tracks is yet another important step to take before washing windows because drips (from the cleaning solution) will dampen the dirt inside and make it harder (and messier) to clean up after.

The easiest and quickest way to clean out your window track is by vacuuming it with an attachment made for narrow spaces. To make sure you don’t miss anything, it helps to brush all the dirt to one corner using the toothbrush and then suck it up with the vacuum cleaner. Be sure to vacuum out the narrow spaces that run along with the frame of the window including the top tracks.

Step Three: Wash the Panes

Man washing large window from the outside

Now, it’s time to wash the windows. Before you start, however, place drop cloths on the floor to catch any spills, as well as on the inside sill in case the wall is at risk of getting dripped on.

To make the cleaning solution, mix the following ingredients in a bucket:

  • Half a gallon of water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup liquid dish detergent

Stir up the solution and soak a sponge in it; squeeze out some of the water and wipe the window to dampen the glass (one pane at a time). Do this gently and carefully to avoid splashing water around. This step is aimed at getting rid of mild stains and dirt that could not be removed by merely dusting the glass.

Step Four: Spot Clean Stains

hospitality worker cleaning external windows

Up until now, most of the glass will be fairly clean, except for a couple of stubborn stains that are yet to come out. The corners and edges are also likely to have some dampened dirt hiding there which can be removed using the trusty ol’ toothbrush again! Just make sure to rinse out the bristles each time you use it.

For stuck-on dirt and stains, dip a microfiber cloth in your cleaning solution and gently scrub them away. Bear in mind that some stubborn stains will require a stronger cleaning solution (extra detergent) and thus, must be made in accordance with the level of dirt/stains on the glass.

Step Five: Wash Again

Exterior window cleaning with a pole squeegee

Now that you’ve gotten off the stains and thoroughly cleaned the corners and edges, the dirt from these areas will still be present on the glass, thus needing another wash. It won’t take more than a minute to sponge-wash the window again, just be sure to clean the tool before using it. Start from the top and work your way downward; allowing the excess water to drip down to the drop cloths in the window tracks.

Step Six: Clean the Window Frames and Handles

Cleaning exterior windows with a pole window cleaner

To finish off cleaning your interior and exterior home windows, you can’t leave out the window frames and handles. The former encounter dirt and stains while the latter is prone to germs; therefore, it is advisable to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in your house, particularly during a virus outbreak such as the COVID-19 pandemic. To clean these crucial parts of your window, soak a clean microfibre cloth in your cleaning solution and wring it; then scrub the window frame gently to remove dirt and stains. For cleaning and sanitising the window handles, use disposable disinfectant wipes.

Tips When Cleaning Home Windows (Interiors and Exteriors)

Man cleaning window with squeegee

  • Rinse or replace cleaning tools when dirty
  • Prevent dirtying the cleaning solution by keeping a basin of water nearby to rinse cleaning tools
  • Avoid streaks by picking a cool time or cloudy day to wash your home windows
  • Repeat ‘step three’ twice for very soiled window panes (such as exteriors)
  • Use diluted rubbing alcohol (70%) to remove bird/insect droppings and disinfect the area
  • Buff the glass with crushed newspaper sheets after the window dries up

Although it takes a little extra time and effort to follow this step-by-step guide to cleaning home windows, we guarantee that you will be thoroughly satisfied with the gleaming results!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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