There’s no denying the beauty of professionally cleaned windows, but that spectacular sparkle comes with a price, and if you are looking to extend the time between professional visits or just need to touch up a few panes of glass, with a bit of patience and the proper equipment, you might be able to handle some of that dirty work yourself.
Many window cleaning products promise to deliver shiny glass, but Dave Kelly, who owns A&W Window Cleaning, said tools are a bigger factor than products in that battle for streak free windows.
“You’re only as good as your tools allow you to be,” said Kelly, who recommends using a T-Bar strip washer or mop and one other vital item when tackling glass: a squeegee. “You can use anything to clean the windows; it’s how you get it off the window, which comes down to a good squeegee,” he said.
According to familyhandyman.com, the best homemade window cleaning solution contains 2 gallons of water and about a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid.
The website offers these additional exterior window washing tips: Scrub the glass with your solution, making sure to cover the entire window. Using just the corner tip of your squeegee, clean a narrow strip of glass from top to bottom. Working horizontally or vertically, draw the squeegee across the glass, overlapping the previous portion with each additional stroke and wiping the squeegee with a rag each time.
When you finish a window, use your rag to wipe off excess water and suds from the edges. Mini squeegees are available for smaller windows, and an extension handle can often be added to your wash strip or squeegee for hard-to-reach places.
For interior windows and touch-ups, Nathaniel Finley, lead window technician for Save Your Glass Window Cleaning, recommends that same soapy water and a squeegee over commercial glass cleaning sprays and paper towels. “Once that paper towel gets wet, you’re just moving dirt around on the glass,” he said.
If your windows seem cloudy or difficult to clean, you might have hard-water stains, a common problem that is often caused by sprinklers and hoses.
“When you spray that onto the glass, the water will soon dry out and evaporate, but the mineral will stay, and what happens is the sun bakes that mineral into the glass,” Finley said. Some hard-water stains can be treated, but others might require window replacement. Finley suggests keeping sprinklers properly adjusted and avoiding the use of hoses on windows to prevent hard-water stains.
Extremely high windows in larger homes might require special equipment, and it is usually best to hire out that dangerous cleaning work to a trained professional.
“A lot of these homes that we go to require ladder work from ladders that can go 24 feet up in the air up to 40 feet in the air,” said Finley, who added that a fear of heights is one of the biggest reasons why people call a window cleaner.
Kelly said professional window cleaners also provide extra eyes for homeowners, often spotting issues they have missed, such as broken window seals, scratches or cracks, and have the proper tools on hand to remove tree sap, paint or other debris from glass before it becomes a bigger problem.
Companies often work year-round, but Finley said the best times to clean windows are late spring, as pollen, dust, wind and rain begin to slow, and early fall when window and gutter cleanings can be paired together in preparation for heavier precipitation.
“If your gutters aren’t cleaned, then that water has nowhere to go, and it can actually soak and rot the fascia of the roof, if not overflow the water and drip that onto the glass and cause the glass on the perimeter of your home to be dirty,” he said.
For homeowners hiring cleaners, Finley also suggests they alert window companies about hilly terrain and other window or property features.
Kelly said caring for home windows is like taking care of a car. With regular maintenance and washings, windows will look better while also remaining problem free, and that will save you money in the long run.