Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cleaning 101 - Windows!

Ian and I bought our house just over a year ago, and not counting a little spot cleaning here and there, we hadn't washed our windows.   This sounds like a super demanding task but it's actually not that bad.   The trickiest part is getting to some of the exterior windows - especially when you have a 2 story house.  Be sure to exercise caution if any ladder climbing is involved in getting to all your windows.

Washing windows with a spray cleaner and a paper towel can help - but you're likely to see the streaks and spots as soon as the sun shines through.  That's because the dirt isn't really being removed - a lot of it is just being pushed around.

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The secret to super clean, super shiny and streak free windows is having the correct tools. A squeegee and squeegee style  microfiber washer are key. I found a set on for $21 bucks.  It has a sturdy squeegee and a removable microfiber pad for easy clean up.

You don't need any sort of fancy cleaning product - you can whip up a batch of super effective cleaner with stuff from around your house.  I have a lot of windows in my house, so I made up a gallon of cleaning solution.  You won't use this much, but it's nice to be able to have a nice full bucket.  Here's the recipe:

The BEST Window Washing Cleaning Solution
  • 1 Gallon hot water
  • 3 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons dishwashing soap.

Mix this all together in a bucket that your squeegee washer will fit in.  The solution won't be sudsy - you don't want it to be!  Soap suds = soap film and that's not good.  You need just enough to get some of the crud off the windows.  

Now it's time to get cleaning.  First, collect all of your tools.  You'll need:

  • Bucket full of window cleaning solution
  • Squeegee style washer
  • Squeegee
  • Garden Hose
  • Several dry rags
  • Bucket of sudsy water for screens
  • Ladder (if necessary)

The next step is to go around your house and remove all of the screens.  These will need to be cleaned too.  Take them outside, lean them up against a wall, and usinh a soft bristled brush dipped into some warm, soapy water (think about what you would use to wash dishes), gently scrub down the screens and spray them off with water.  Let them air dry.

For the windows - I like to start outside. Take your garden hose and spray down the window.  This removes the extra dust, pollen, dead bugs, etc from the window and frame.  Then take your washer and using a circular motion, wash the entire surface of the window.  Some extra scrubbing might be needed on any caked on gunk.  Once washed, spray the window with the hose to remove the soap, and then take a dry rag to wipe down the window frame so it doesn't drip onto your clean window. Immediately squeegee off the excess water, wiping the squeegee with a dry rag between strokes.  The way you do this is up to you.  I tend to do top to bottom pattern, but you could also go side to side.  Whatever works for you.

For your interior windows, there obviously won't be any spraying going on.  Just squeeze out your washer and use it when it's not dripping wet.  The inside of the windows won't be as dirty so you don't need all the spraying. Follow the same steps and keep a dry rag handy so that the water that you squeegee off the window doesn't run over your sill and make a mess.

After you're done with the windows, replace the screens and you're done!  You'll be amazed at how much brighter your house seems.  This chore definitely takes a few hours (depending on the size of your house) but it is so worth it.  When friends came over after I did the windows, they were all trying to figure out what was new in the house - nothing new, just super shiny, streak-free windows letting the gorgeous sunlight in.

Happy cleaning!

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