You don’t need a pricey product to clean windows. You do, however, need to use the right tools, the right technique, and the right weather.
What Equipment to use
Newspapers used to be a cheap way to get streak-free windows, but they’re not as effective as they used to be because the paper is much thinner now and mostly tears, instead of drying the glass. Chamois cloths are synthetic now, too, so they don’t work as well anymore. The best equipment to get your windows clean is a bucket, a natural sponge or microfiber cloths, and a squeegee on an extension pole.
Steps to clean your windows
Step 1: Make a homemade window-washing solution.
Fill a bucket or large bowl with cool water and add a few drops of liquid dish detergent, like Dawn or Ajax. Avoid using plant-based dish soaps for this purpose, since they contain oils which will leave streaks on your windows.
Step 2: Brush away debris.
Use a broom to knock away cobwebs and other debris. If your screens are dusty, sweep them with the broom before moving them out of the way, then sweep the exterior window sill, too. Skipping this step means the dirt will turn to mud once you apply the cleaning solution, and that will cause streaks.
Step 3: Indoors, protect the floor and ledge.
Place a towel on the windowsill or ledge to catch drips when washing indoors. If you have double-hung windows which tilt-in for easy cleaning, place a tall stool or chair in front of the window to rest the pane against while you work. Clean the top sash first, then the bottom.
Step 4: Wet, scrub, and squeegee.
Dip a sponge into the homemade window cleaning mixture and scrub the window, then pull the squeegee left to right across the glass, starting at the top of the window. Continue making sideways, overlapping passes until you reach the bottom. Stop every other pass to wipe the squeegee blade with a clean dry cloth. This removes grime and ensures your blade is dry—two important parts in cleaning windows without leaving streaks.
Step 5: Wipe in a different direction on the other side.
When you’re ready to clean the other side of the window, use the squeegee from top to bottom instead of side to side. This way, if you do happen to leave a streak, you’ll know which side it’s on so you can quickly clean it.
The Right Weather for Washing Windows
Sunny days are not the best weather for window washing. That’s because the sun heats the glass, so any window cleaner applied to it will evaporate quickly. If it evaporates before you’ve removed grime, it will leave streaks. So, try to schedule window cleaning for an overcast day or make sure the sun isn’t shining on your windows when you clean them and that they’re not still warm from the sun.
How Often Should You Clean Windows?
Clean your windows at least twice a year. Neglecting them can lead to permanent etching and damage the glass. This happens because the glass expands and contracts with seasonal temperature changes, so surface grime can get trapped and make your window look hazy. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t wash your windows every month—and once you know how to clean them without leaving streaks, you might actually enjoy this task.