Homemade Window and Glass Cleaner

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This easy homemade glass cleaner leaves your windows streak-free and sparkling clean every time.

Hand in rubber glove uses sponge and homemade window cleaner on glass

Window cleaning is never a fun task, and it’s even more miserable when the glass cleaner you’re using leaves streaks. With 36 windows in our house, I need one that works quickly, cleans thoroughly, and doesn’t cost a lot. So, I set out to create a homemade window and glass cleaner that gets the job done right the first time. This is it!

Homemade Window Cleaner Recipe

This DIY glass and window cleaner is cost-effective, yet it works well. You don’t have to limit its use to windows, either. It is an equally effective homemade glass cleaner recipe that you can spray onto rags or paper towels to clean glass surfaces like picture fronts and glass shower doors. It is not for use on granite or natural stone surfaces.

You will need:

  • 70% Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Squeegee
  • Microfiber cloth, towel, or lint-free cloth or rags

Instructions:

In the spray bottle, shake together 1 cup rubbing alcohol (“surgical spirits” in the UK), 1 cup white distilled vinegar then add 3 drops of dishwashing liquid. Spray the glass liberally then lightly scrub with a microfiber cloth to loosen grime. Spray a second time and immediately draw the squeegee’s rubber strip down the glass in a smooth stroke. Wipe the blade and repeat. Use a clean microfiber cloth or towel to wipe any drips from the sill right away.

Storage:

If you want to store any unused portion of this DIY window cleaner formula, keep it in a cool, dark place away from heat and direct sunlight.

What Ingredients are best for window cleaning?

If windows only got coated with dirt and pollen, a strong spray of water would get them clean. But windows also acquire a stubborn mess known as city grime. This is the product of smog and other airborne particles that coat hard surfaces. When water interacts with city grime, it can make the mess cling harder. That’s why you’ll still find dirt on your windows after heavy rain.

A Little Soap

Soap contains fatty substances that encapsulate greasy dirt particles, allowing them to be easily rinsed away. It helps separate city grime from glass. But the amount of soap matters. Don’t just squirt it in: too much will leave streaks on windows. We’re using dish soap in this window and glass cleaner recipe — “washing up liquid,” for UK readers — because it has additional grease-fighting properties.

Plain Distilled White Vinegar

Vinegar does not hurt glass and helps dissolve things like bird droppings and dead bugs. It’s roughly 5% acidity and works fine in this recipe — there’s no need to buy a pricey “cleaning vinegar.” Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is not a good substitute in this homemade glass cleaner since it contains pectin, a form of soluble fiber. On shiny surfaces like glass and windows, pectin causes streaks. White vinegar does not cause that problem.

Rubbing (Isopropyl) Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a solvent that works with vinegar to dissolve grime on your windows. It also speeds up evaporation, which helps avoid leaving streaks.

Can I use a higher strength? Isopropyl comes in various strengths, ranging from 70% to 90%, depending on how much water has been added. The higher the percentage, the less water it contains, and the faster it will evaporate. So, while you can certainly use 90% in this recipe, you will need to work very quickly to avoid leaving streaks. I stick with 70% for that reason.

This is not the drinkable kind. Chemically, rubbing alcohol is isopropyl and is used for disinfection. That’s why, in the United States, it’s sold in the First Aid section of stores. In the UK, it’s known as “surgical spirits” and is available wherever you’d buy plasters or bandages.

Tips to Clean Windows and Glass

Though it seems straightforward, here are some techniques to help you use homemade window and glass cleaner without leaving streaks.

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The Right Weather for Window Cleaning

It’s best to clean windows on an overcast, non-windy day. Glass that’s been warmed by the sun will cause the ingredients in this homemade glass cleaner to evaporate too quickly and leave streaks. Working on a cloudy day is one of the best ways to clean windows without streaking.

The One-Way Trick

If you are cleaning both sides of a window, work the squeegee in opposite directions on each side. If you can’t open the window, try these steps to fix stuck windows before beginning. Using a top-to-bottom approach on the exterior and a left-to-right method on the interior will help you quickly identify which side has any streaks.

Add a Pinch of Cornstarch

If it’s been a while since you’ve washed your windows, or they’re covered in more grime than usual, add a small pinch of cornstarch to the homemade window cleaning solution. This will provide mild scrubbing power without relying on harsh chemicals to lift away stubborn residue.

Use a Spray Bottle Not Bucket

Professional window cleaners typically use a bucket of water with a few drops of dish soap. That’s fine if you’re washing windows on a regular basis, as they do. They also have to dump out and refill their bucket often, since any dirt in the mixture will leave streaks on the window. When you’re using a homemade window cleaning solution, it’s easiest to work with a spray bottle and squeegee so you don’t have to worry about dirt getting into the cleaner.

Scrub Then Squeegee

After applying glass cleaner, scrub the window and then use a squeegee to dry it quickly. I use this window cleaning tool that has both scrubbing and squeegee sides and attaches to any universal extension pole to make cleaning tall windows much easier. Also, be sure to wash your scrubber and squeegee blade after you’ve finished cleaning your windows, and make sure they’re dry before you put them away.

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17 Comments

  1. My favourite window cleaner is newspapers – they wipe completely clean and don’t leave any streaks. And they’re super cheap, or free if you have free newspapers in your area.

  2. I love the newspaper method, but microfiber towels are my new favorite. They are also streak free, and pick up EVERYTHING so they are also good for dusting. πŸ™‚

  3. Have you ever heard of/used a drop of jet dry in your window cleaning? I saw someone else (sorry, was just browsing the internet!) had a recipe using jet dry. I haven’t tried it, just wondering if you had.

    1. I’ve heard of people using that in window cleaner but can’t honestly say I’ve tried it. Sorry I couldn’t provide more info! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Kelsey,
      I wouldn’t recommend it. Apple cider vinegar contains pectin and is likely to leave streaks.

  4. Thank you for the help I needed. My Mother died in 1980 and I could not remember all the ingredients she used. Two were the alcohol and/or vinegar. My mother did the windows weekly and they always had a great clear shine when she finished caring for them.

    1. Hi Phyllis,
      I’m so glad you found the recipe again and hope your sparkling windows now bring back wonderful memories of your mom.

  5. yes! we used your formula yesterday & the windows have that million dollar shine! we used durable spray bottles from the cleaning section of the big box store & newspapers to clean/scrub & microfiber to finish/polish! thanks+++?

    1. As it says, a small pinch. So, just like in a cooking recipe referring to “a pinch,” you’d pinch a small amount between your fingers and add it. If you want to measure, a pinch is equal to 1/16th of a teaspoon.

  6. We live by the ocean and this recipe has been my favorite for cleaning salt water spots. It is a great recipe. I have not tried it with cornstarch.

    1. Actually, it does.

      Storage:

      If you want to store any unused portion of this DIY window cleaner formula, make sure to use a glass spray bottle, not plastic. Store the mixture in a cool, dark place away from heat and direct sunlight.

    2. Good catch, and thank you. I’d tested keeping it in both types of bottles in my cleaning closet and found there was no difference. Thought I’d removed the direction about plastic bottles, but apparently not. It’s gone now. πŸ™‚

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