Basic equipment is all you need
The same high-quality window washing tools the pros use are readily available at home centers and full-service hardware stores. The whole setup is inexpensive and will last many years. In addition to a 10- or 12-in. squeegee you'll need a scrubber, a bucket (a 5-gallon plastic bucket will work), hand dishwashing liquid and a few lint-free rags or small towels.
Keep your squeegee fitted with a sharp, new rubber blade. Purchase two or three to have on hand. The pros we talked to change their squeegee blades as often as once a day. That's because you just can't do a good job if the edge of the blade becomes nicked, sliced or rounded over with use. If your squeegee leaves streaks or just isn't performing like new, don't hesitate to replace the blade. 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.
Our squeegee method is easy to master
Just add a couple of gallons of water and about a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in your bucket and you're ready to go. 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 wind shield washing solution until the water doesn't freeze on the glass. Scrubber or sponge? It's up to you. A scrubber works great and is worth buying if you have a lot of medium to large panes of glass. But a good-quality sponge is all you really need, especially if most of your windowpanes are small.
Step one: Dip the scrubber in the bucket and squeeze excess water from the scrubber.
Will you need to use a ladder when you wash your windows? If so, consider using a ladder stabilizer.
Scrub the glass
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.
Clean a starting strip
Squeegee across the top
Wipe the squeegee clean
Work down the window
Wipe off excess water
You can use a squeegee inside the house, too!
The pros do this all the time, even in houses with stained and varnished woodwork. 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 ten 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 work great for window cleaning.
For divided-lite windows, use a sponge and a small squeegee. If you can't find a small enough squeegee, you can cut off a larger one to fit your glass size. Scrub the glass with a wrung out sponge. Then use the tip of the squeegee to clear a narrow strip at the top. Pull the squeegee down and wipe the perimeter.
Changing a squeegee blade, Step 1
Changing a squeegee blade, Step 2
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.
- Add 1/2 cup of ammonia per gallon of water to help remove greasy dirt.
- 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.
Recap: 10 easy steps to clean windows. Step 1
Once you master the simple technique, you can get your windows sparkling clean in 30 seconds! Click to follow this 10 photo series.
Scrub the glass, covering every square inch.