Tips

Easy window cleaning tips

Get your home sparkling clean and bathed in sunlight with these pro window washing tips.
Woman demonstrates window cleaning

Regular window cleaning will keep your home looking beautiful and windows operating properly in the long run. To get you started, we’re sharing our top tips along with some pro advice from Micah Nijjar of Micah’s Window Cleaning in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We recommend cleaning your windows twice per year. Cleaning your windows in the spring can help remove road salt from the winter, and doing it again in the fall will remove dust and dirt so you’re always making the most of your natural light.

Gather your window washing equipment

Here’s the equipment you’ll need:

  • Bucket.
  • Clean, soft cloths — Recycled surgical towels work well, according to Nijjar.
  • Cleaning solution — Nijjar recommends making your own by mixing 2 to 3 gallons of water with a 10-second squeeze of dish soap. You could also use a store-bought spray glass cleaner (ammonia-and-water based).
  • T-bar scrubber with a replaceable microfiber sleeve.
  • 14-inch squeegee — Nijjar recommends a brass one because its extra weight makes it easier to maneuver. If you can’t find brass, aluminum or stainless steel work well too. If you have very large windows, you might want an 18-inch squeegee.
  • Large paint brush or a hand-held vacuum for cleaning windowsills.

Tip: For even more cleaning solutions, visit our Help Center.

Cleaning inside windows

Here’s Nijjar’s proven method for washing the inside of your windows:

  1. Lay down a towel or drop cloth under the window to avoid drips.
  2. Use a small hand-held vacuum or large paint brush to clear away dirt and spiderwebs from the windowsill. You can fashion a tool for getting tight corners clean by wrapping a cloth around a butter knife. Finally, wipe the sill clean with a damp cloth.
  3. Being careful not to use too much water, begin washing from the top of the window glass using your scrubber and cleaning solution. Rub up-and-down and side-to-side using light to moderate pressure.
  4. Using a clean, dry cloth, wipe the top and edges of the window to break the bead of water.
  5. Squeegee the glass dry by starting in one of the top corners and swiping down in a straight line. Keep working your way across the top, wiping your squeegee dry in between strokes. Angle your squeegee slightly so it directs water toward the part of the glass you haven’t squeegeed yet.
  6. Using a clean cloth, wipe away any water that’s pooled at the bottom of the window.

Did you know? Tilt-wash double-hung windows tilt inward making it easy to clean the outside of your windows while inside your home. This style of window is especially handy on an upper level because you don’t need to climb a ladder to clean the windows. Find them available in the 200 Series, 400 Series, A-Series and E-Series.

Cleaning outside windows

Here’s Nijjar’s pro method for washing the outside of your windows:

  1. Remove the insect screen and clean it. This leaves time for it to dry while you tackle the rest of the window.
  2. Brush away dirt and spiderwebs from the window frame and sills using a large paint brush.
  3. Wipe down the window frame using a damp cloth.
  4. Beginning at the top and working down, wash glass with your T-bar scrubber and solution. Rub up-and-down and side-to-side using light to moderate pressure.
  5. If your window is very dirty, you might need to scrub the glass a second time.
  6. Using a clean, dry cloth, wipe the top and edges of the windows to break the bead of water.
  7. Squeegee the glass dry by starting in one of the top corners and swiping down in a straight line. Keep working your way across the top, wiping your squeegee dry in between strokes. Angle your squeegee slightly so it directs water toward the part of the glass you haven’t squeegeed yet.
  8. Using a dry cloth, detail around the glass to remove any soapy residue left behind. Make sure to use a different, dry part of the rag with each wipe.
  9. Finally, wipe down the frames.

How to clean windows without streaks (and other tips)

  • To avoid streaks, don’t wash your windows in direct sunlight. The sun will cause your cleaning solution to dry more quickly than you can wipe it away.
  • “The biggest mistake you can ever make is hosing your windows down,” said Nijjar. Even if you have soft water, the mineral content will leave spots on your glass. For the same reason, avoid spraying your windows when using a sprinkler.
  • Avoid using razor blades and abrasive cleaners or solvents as these can scratch or damage window glass.
  • Don’t wait too long between window cleanings. The longer you wait, the more dirt builds up and the more elbow grease it will take to get your windows clean again.
  • When you’re cleaning your windows, check for gaps or damage in your weatherstripping. If you find any damage, we have tips on replacing it here.
  • Washing windows and doors with pressurized tools may cause damage and is not recommended.
  • Don’t use newspaper to dry windows as the ink can bleed and discolor the surrounding frame.
  • For extra stubborn spots, either toothpaste or mineral spirits can help. Get details on cleaning with these products in our help center
  • If you can’t reach upper-story windows and feel uncomfortable on a ladder, sometimes the best solution is to hire a professional window washer. And when it comes time to replace, consider tilt-wash windows for easy cleaning!

Cleaning the rest of your window

Here are some answers to other window cleaning questions you might have:

  • How do I clean my interior window frames? Wood-framed windows can be dusted with a microfiber cloth in much the same way you dust your woodwork. 100 Series windows are made of Fibrex® composite material, which can be washed with a solution of mild soap and water and then dried with a clean, soft cloth. Tackle the frames at the same time you clean the glass for a one-and-done approach. Note: It’s not recommended to use alcohol-based cleaners on Fibrex® composite material window frames — find more details here.
  • How do I clean my window hardware? Most hardware can be cleaned by using a soft cloth with a mild soap-and-water solution. Note: Chrome and bronze (both oil-rubbed and distressed) hardware finishes require different cleaning approaches — find the details in our help center.
  • How do I clean my window grilles? Grilles can be cleaned with a brush and a solution of mild soap and water at the same time you clean window glass. If you have interior-only grilles, they may be removable for easy cleaning. To find out, gently try to lift them away from the glass. Removable grilles can be laid on a clean, flat surface for easy cleaning. Be sure to let them dry before reinstalling.
  • What else needs maintaining? For smooth operation, window and door hardware and other moving components can be lubricated. Dry lubricant spray is recommended and available through our parts store. You can find instructions on using it here.

Next up: More ideas about bringing natural light and fresh air into your home.

Get healthy home tips How to clean window screens