How to Wash Windows: A Step by Step Guide
Replacement windows look great. Yet there is a time (and it usually doesn’t take too long) before the elements take control and make even the freshest glass look dirty and tired. Therefore, it’s important to know how to correctly wash windows in order to maintain that vivid, clear appearance you recall when the windows were first installed in the home.
The article is designed to provide you with a step by step guide on how to wash windows.
How to Wash Windows Quick and Effectively
There is no misunderstanding that cleaning windows is a chore. There are very few homeowners that actually look forward to completing the task. Yet it’s mandatory if you want your windows to maintain the best appearance.
Fortunately, there are methods that can reduce the time spent on each window while also getting the clearest, streak-free clean possible.
First, you need to have the right tools and accessories (more details, below). It’s time to ditch the spray bottle and paper towels and transition into a squeegee. Squeegees are inexpensive window washing accessories and it helps make the job far easier.
Secondly, you must consider your limitations. If you have a bad back or shoulders, it’s not advisable to use an extension pole on second-story windows. You’re just going to aggravate the ailment. You can also help yourself by picking the right time of the day to prevent heat exhaustion yet take advantage of the warm, dry weather at the same time.
Window Washing Accessories
The good news about window washing is that you don’t need to invest a lot in tools and accessories. However, having these essentials are a must for any home:
- Extension pole
- Lint-free cloths
- Rubber gloves
- 5-gallon plastic bucket
- Mild dishwashing liquid, non-ammoniated all-purpose cleaner, or white vinegar
Additionally, you may need the following window washing accessories for certain projects:
- A sturdy ladder that is safety approved and appropriate for the job
- Large polyester or natural sea sponges
- Soft-bristle counter brush
- Straight-edged razor blades
Squeegees are very affordable and more effective compared to a spray bottle and paper towels for cleaning windows. You can pick up a new squeegee for $10 to $25. You’ll need to replace the blade on a squeegee as it gets dull and ineffective over time. You can tell when a squeegee blade needs replaced when it has nicks, slices, or is rounded off. Another dead giveaway for blade replacement is when the squeegee leaves streaks after use.
It also helps to invest in an extension pole. It makes the job much easier on your body, even for first-story windows. You should never feel like you are straining your shoulders, arms, or back when trying to reach a window.
Step One: Mix a Cleaning Solution
You can wash windows with a variety of different cleaners on the market. If you want to just create a basic solution from home, all you need is:
- 2 gallons of water
- Tsp. of dishwashing liquid
Mix the two ingredients together in a 5-gallon bucket and you’re ready to start washing your windows.
NOTE: Some homeowners prefer a stronger cleaning solution such as a non-ammoniated all-purpose cleaner. White vinegar can also complete the task at hand. Vinegar works well but it has more working time, then you can opt for cool water and dishwashing liquid instead.
Step Two: Prepare Your Squeegee
Though we find that using a squeegee for windows is the easiest and most effective, some homeowners prefer a window scrubber. It really comes down to personal preference.
Before you get started to examine the squeegee or scrubber. Are all the parts in working condition? Do you need to replace the blade on the squeegee? Perhaps you want to use a combination of the two window accessories?
Regardless gather everything you need before you get started including an extension pole and/or ladder.
Step Three: Dip the Scrubber in a Bucket
After you dip the scrubber in the bucket squeeze out the excess water. If you aren’t using a scrubber then you can use a clean lint-free towel for the same purpose.
Step Four: Scrub the Glass
Windows get hammered night and day by rain, snow, wind, dirt, and insects. Needless to say, they take some tough love to scrub out some of the more difficult areas of the glass.
It’s why a scrubber is recommended to really work in the bristles and get a deep clean. A towel can work you just need to put some muscle into it.
First, start at the edges and clean toward the middle. It will bring all the unwanted junk to the center of the glass making it easier for the squeegee to remove it permanently.
Step Five: Squeegee the Window Edges
After you have scrubbed down every inch of the glass, it’s time for the first pass of the squeegee.
We recommend that you begin by tipping the squeegee so only the corner contacts the glass. Then, starting at the top corner of the glass swipe a narrow strip of glass from top to bottom. Repeat the same maneuver on the other side of the window.
Step Six: Squeegee the Glass from Top to Bottom
Now that you have a clean strip along the edges you can work the squeegee horizontally from top to bottom for the final clean. Press the blade against the window in the upper corner and pull it firmly and steadily across the glass. It’s important to focus on keeping the top of the squeegee in contact with the top edge of the glass. It will avoid streaks.
You can move the squeegee horizontally or vertically. Vertical swipes sometimes require more of an effort to avoid streaks because you need to angle it properly in order to direct excess water toward the uncleaned area and not to the freshly cleaned spot.
Step Seven: Wipe the Squeegee Clean
Your squeegee will build up excess water and debris over time. So you can use a clean towel that’s conveniently placed in a front pocket of your pants or shorts to wipe the blade clean periodically.
Some professional cleaners choose to squeegee the entire window in one pass. Then, they wipe the blade clean and repeat the process a second time in order to clean up any remaining water or debris on the glass.
NOTE: On the second pass the squeegee should overlap the previous strokes by 1-2 inches. The overlap addresses the spots where the blade did not adequately absorb the water and dirt on the edges during the initial pass.
Step Eight: Remove the Remaining Water
If you properly clean the window the squeegee should do about 95 percent of the work. However, you’ll need a rag to wipe off the water the accessory couldn’t reach along the bottom edge of the window. The same goes for the other edges where glass meets the frame. Lint-free rags work really well on freshly cleaned glass because they don’t leave any evidence.
How to Wash Windows: Additional Notes
There is a common misconception among homeowners that squeegees aren’t appropriate for cleaning the interior of a window. That is actually false. Squeegees work well on interior glass too. You just need to exercise caution when running the blade along the edges, especially on frames that have a fancy stain or varnish. Now that you know how to wash windows, it’s time to put this strategy to the ultimate test on your own windows.