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Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Windows

The fastest way to wash your windows with crystal clear, streak-free results.

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Basic Window Washing Equipment

When cleaning windows, remember that the same high-quality window washing tools the pros use are readily available online, at home centers, and in full-service hardware stores. Here’s what you need:

Keep your squeegee fitted with a sharp, new rubber blade. Purchase two or three extra rubber blades to have on hand. You can get a little more mileage out of blades that aren’t nicked or sliced by simply reversing them to expose a fresh edge. When you store the squeegee, make sure nothing touches the blade.

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DIY Window Cleaning Solution

The best homemade window cleaning solution is to just mix two gallons of water and about a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid together in your bucket. Some people also opt to use vinegar and water to clean windows.
In warm weather, you’ll get a little more working time by using cool water. If you’ve procrastinated so long that you’re washing windows in below-freezing temps, add windshield washing solution until the water doesn’t freeze on the glass.
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Scrub the Glass

The first step in the exterior window cleaning process is to scrub the glass, working at all angles to clean the edges. Make sure to cover every square inch of the glass. This technique allows you to get great results immediately. We’re moving the squeegee horizontally across the glass, but vertical strokes will work too. If you work vertically, angle the squeegee to direct excess water toward the uncleaned area.
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Clean a Starting Strip

Tip the squeegee so that only the corner contacts the glass. Then, starting at the top corner of the glass, clean a narrow strip of glass from top to bottom on one side. This clean strip makes it easier to start the horizontal stokes.
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Squeegee Across the Top

Press the squeegee blade against the glass in the upper corner and pull it steadily across the window. Concentrate on keeping the top of the squeegee in contact with the top edge of the window.
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Wipe the Squeegee Clean

Wipe the blade on the clean towel in your front pocket or wipe it across the scrubber to remove dirt and excess water.
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Work Down the Window

Begin again, with the top of the squeegee overlapping the previous stroke about 2-in. Pull the squeegee across the window at an angle to direct excess water down. Wipe and repeat.
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Wipe Off Excess Water

The next step in exterior window cleaning is to use the rag in your pocket to wipe up excess water along the bottom edge of the window. Then poke your finger into a dry spot on a separate lint-free rag and run it around the perimeter of the window to remove any remaining suds. Wipe off any streaks using a clean area of the lint-free rag. Change rags when you can’t find any fresh, clean areas.
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You Can Use a Squeegee Inside the House, Too!

Pro cleaners use squeegees inside all the time, even in houses with stained and varnished woodwork. When cleaning windows with a squeegee indoors, the key is to squeeze most of the soapy water out of the scrubber to eliminate excessive dripping and running. Then rest the scrubber on the edge of the bucket rather than dropping it in the water after each window. Depending on how dirty your windows are, you may be able to wash five or 10 windows before rinsing the scrubber.
Keep a rag in your pocket to wipe the squeegee and quickly clean up soapy water that runs onto the woodwork. Use a separate clean rag to wipe the perimeter of the glass. Microfiber rags also work great for window cleaning.
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Changing a Squeegee Blade

  • Remove the worn out blade.
  • Grab the end of the blade and stretch it out to expose the metal clip.
  • Slide the clip off, then slide the blade out the opposite end.
    • Pro tip: Blades without clips are usually held together by a couple of screws and the clamp on the handle.
  • Install the new blade.
  • Slide it into the metal channel.
  • Stretch it and reinstall the metal clip.
    • Pro tip: If necessary, cut the end of the blade to leave 1/8 to 3/16 in. protruding from the channel.

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Tips for Hard-to-Clean Windows

Remove paint specks and labels with a razor blade mounted in a holder. Always use a new blade to avoid scratching the glass. Wet the window first and push the blade across once. Rinse the blade and repeat on the next section to avoid trapping debris under the blade that could scratch the glass. Don’t use a razor blade on tempered glass.

  • Remove tree pitch or bug droppings with a fine (white) nylon scrub pad. Wet the glass first and rub in an inconspicuous area to make sure you’re not scratching the glass.
  • Clean tough glass stains and built-up mineral deposits from shower doors and other glass surfaces using mild household abrasives and an ordinary power drill. Here’s how.
  • Use this glass cleaning solution for tough spots: Add 1/2 cup of ammonia per gallon of water to help remove greasy dirt for a DIY window cleaner
  • Loosen sticky residue left from labels or tape by soaking it with a specialty product like Goof Off. You’ll find Goof Off in the paint department at hardware stores and home centers. Then scrape off the residue with a razor blade.