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The Complete Guide to Cleaning Windows, Inside and Out

March 3, 2024
The Complete Guide to Cleaning Windows, Inside and Out


Having clean, streak-free windows can make all the difference in your home. Clean windows let in more natural light, provide clearer views, and give your house an overall polished look. However, washing windows is a task many homeowners dread. With the right tools and techniques, cleaning windows doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.

In this complete guide, I will walk you through everything you need to know to clean windows thoroughly, inside and out. I’ll cover supplies you need, techniques for washing, drying and cleaning window tracks, as well as tips for hard water stains, high windows, and patio doors. With the information in this guide, you’ll be able to tackle dirty windows with confidence.

Supplies You’ll Need

Before you start washing, make sure you have all the right supplies. This will ensure the job goes quickly and smoothly. Here are the must-have items for sparkling clean windows:

  • Squeegee – A squeegee with a brass or silicone blade is ideal for scraping water off windows. Choose one with a handle long enough to reach top windows.

  • Scrubbing pads/sponges – Microfiber cloths and soft scrubbing pads won’t scratch glass. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.

  • Mild detergent – Look for a mild dish soap or a cleaner made specifically for glass. Ammonia-based cleaners can damage window seals over time.

  • Window scraper – Use a plastic or rubber scraper to remove stuck-on grime and paint.

  • Extension pole – Attach a pole to reach high or awkward windows safely. Get a telescoping one that extends 8-12 feet.

  • Scrub brush – For window tracks, a narrow scrub brush on an extension handle is useful.

  • Squeegee blade cleaner – This helps remove dirt and debris from the squeegee after each use.

  • Microfiber cloths – Use lint-free cloths to dry glass and wipe down frames.

  • Drop cloths – Canvas cloths protect outdoor areas and indoor floors from drips.

The Window Washing Process

Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s time to tackle dirty windows. Follow these steps for pristine results:

Step 1: Prepare the Work Area

Before washing, prepare the space around each window:

  • Clear windowsills and the area below. Remove curtains/blinds if possible.
  • For outdoor windows, close them and lock any sliding panes.
  • Place drop cloths on the ground below to catch drips.
  • Have your cleaning supplies nearby and a bucket of water mixed with mild detergent.

Step 2: Scrape Off Debris

Use a plastic scraper to gently remove any stuck-on debris like paint, tape, or splattered bugs. This prevents abrasions to the glass when scrubbing.

Step 3: Wash Windows

  • Dip your scrubber in the soapy bucket and wash glass using gentle, overlapping circles.
  • Rinse often – this keeps dirt from scratching the glass.
  • Use an up-and-down motion on vertical blinds to catch dust between each slat.
  • For outdoor windows, scrub top to bottom and rinse debris away quickly.

Step 4: Squeegee Glass

  • Wipe excess water with a squeegee blade cleaner or towel.
  • Starting at the top corner, glide squeegee down in an ā€œSā€ motion, overlapping passes.
  • Wipe blade edge frequently for a streak-free finish.
  • Go top to bottom and side to side until no moisture remains.

Step 5: Dry Window Frames

  • Use a new microfiber cloth to wipe down frames and sills.
  • Buff dry any pooled water in window tracks and sills.
  • Leave windows open to air dry if needed.

And that’s it – clean, beautiful windows! The whole process should take about 15-20 minutes per standard window.

Special Techniques and Tips

Beyond basic washing, there are some extra techniques that can help tackle specific window cleaning challenges:

Hard Water Stains

  • Mix white vinegar and water at a 1:1 ratio and scrub to dissolve mineral deposits.
  • Use undiluted vinegar for tough stains. Rinse thoroughly after.
  • Consider a squeegee with a water filter to prevent new stains.

High and Hard-to-Reach Windows

  • Use an extension pole for second story and difficult windows. Start from the top corner and work down methodically.
  • Telescoping poles allow you to adjust length as needed. Use care on ladders or roofs.

Window Tracks

  • Vacuum out dirt first with a crevice tool.
  • Use a grout brush and soapy water to scrub tracks. Wipe clean.
  • Once dry, rub tracks with bar soap to help windows slide better.

Patio and Sliding Glass Doors

  • Close doors and start washing from the top corner, working side to side.
  • Have someone hold doors steady from inside if needed.
  • Pay special attention to door frames and tracks which collect dirt.

Preventing Streaks

  • Wash windows on an overcast day to avoid sun drying them too quickly.
  • Re-rinse glass if it starts to dry before you squeegee it.
  • Wipe blades frequently and change wash water often for best results.

Supplemental Cleaning for a Deeper Clean

For a periodic deeper cleaning, consider adding these steps:

  • Remove screens and clean with a hose or scrub brush. Allow to fully dry before replacing.
  • Wipe down window frames with a mix of vinegar and water.
  • Use a vacuum attachment to clean window sills and hard-to-reach corners.
  • Polish glass with a natural oil like lemon or tea tree oil and a microfiber cloth for added sparkle.
  • Clean window seals and tracks to prevent sticking and improve function.

Putting in this extra effort a few times a year will keep your windows looking their absolute best!


I hope this complete guide gives you the confidence to tackle dirty windows and keep them looking spotless. The key is having the right supplies, using proper technique, and cleaning windows thoroughly from top to bottom. Pay special attention to frames, tracks and hard-to-reach spots. With a little time and elbow grease, you can maintain beautiful, clear windows. Just follow these steps and tips, and you’ll achieve window washing success!

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