DANIELLE OCCHIOGROSSO DALY
Over time, pollution and dirt slowly but steadily builds up on your windows, obstructing your view and blocking out precious sunlight. The only thing worse? Thick streaks left by poor cleaning.
To keep your view clear (and your light-loving houseplants), take expert advice from Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. With the right spray, the right cloth and the right technique, your windows will never look so good.
1. Pick a dry, cloudy day.
“Do this job in a scorching sun and the cleaner will dry on the hot windows before you can wipe it off, leaving hard-to-remove smudges,” says Forte. If the weather isn’t cooperating, start with the shady side of the house.
2. First remove dirt and dust.
Before you start, clean the dirt from the window frame with a brush or vacuum it with your machine’s dusting attachment. This will prevent the dirt from turning into a muddy mess when mixed with a cleaner. If your window screen looks particularly dirty, take it out and wash it with hot soapy water and a soft brush, then rinse and let dry before putting it back on.
For quick dusting of blinds and shades, Forte recommends wiping both sides with a microfiber duster or opening the slats and covering them with a damp cloth, followed by a dry cloth.
LABORATORY ADVICE: You can also refresh your curtains at the same time by putting them in the dryer for 15 minutes on an “air only” cycle and quickly putting them back in place to prevent wrinkles.
3. Choose the right cleanser and spray liberally.
Don’t hold back on the spray, especially if your windows look very dirty. “You need a lot of the cleaner to dissolve and hang the dirt so it can be completely wiped off – skimp and you’ll see streaks,” says Forte.
She recommends Invisible Glass Cleaner With EZ Grip. The fine mist from the bottle stays where you spray until you wipe it off, which means less dripping and mess. Also check out these other most tested cleaners depending on the job:
If you prefer to DIY, try making this homemade vinegar cleanser:
Home window cleaner
Mix the ingredients and pour them into a spray bottle. If you have children or pets, write the ingredients on the outside of the bottle for safety.
4. Use a microfiber cloth.
Some people like to dry windows with newspaper, but it’s best to use reusable microfiber cloths. “They’re super absorbent, washable, and leave the glass shiny and streak-free,” says Forte.
Try Casabella Microfiber Glass Cloths, which have a special honeycomb texture to remove water spots, stains and dirt from mirrors and glass without scratching.
If you prefer to use paper towels, choose a brand that is up to the task. Weak paper towels can shred and leave lint. In our last paper towel test, Bounty Regular held up the best when wet.
5. Skip the raclette.
“Professional window cleaners swear by them, but you have to know how to use them properly,” says Forte. “You scrape down and where does the water go?” On the ground.
Due to the potential clutter and drip factor, she avoids using squeegees, especially for small glass panes, but they may be more useful on larger panoramic windows.
6. Break it down.
You only need to clean your windows once or twice a year, says Forte, but it’s even easier if you divide the work up and do it piece by piece. When cleaning, wipe one side of the window horizontally and the other vertically. If streaks form, you will easily know whether they are on the outside or inside.
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