How to clean windows – tips for getting streak-free sparkling windows inside and out

Let in the light in with our expert window cleaning ideas for perfect panes
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  • Invite the brightness back into your home with sparkling clean windows. From making your own window cleaning solution to the trusted old newspaper trick, there are plenty of ways to bring the shine back to your window panes.

    Never underestimate the power of clean windows to transform your rooms, making them light, bright and good for the soul. Clean windows indoors and out provides a better outlook, for a view out and a good impression for those looking at the exterior.

    While cleaning windows is a simple care and cleaning job, it’s often one that proves frustrating – when you are left with streaks that feel like you’ve made them look worse?! Follow our expert tips for getting the best results every time.

    How to clean windows

    Image credit: James French/ Future PLC

    Freshen up slightly dirty windows – ones that have the odd smudge or smear – using a cleaning spray and a cloth. However, if you haven’t washed the windows for months, get a squeegee out and do a proper clean.

    Here’s what you’ll need for cleaning windows in order to get a professional finish:

    • Large dry brush or broom handle for removing cobwebs and dust
    • Bucket
    • Sponge
    • Squeegee
    • Purpose made window cleaning solutions or vinegar
    • Brown paper or newspaper
    • Microfibre cloth
    • Dry lint free cloth or drying pad

    1. Remove curtains and blinds before cleaning

    How to clean windows

    Image credit: Damian Russell/ Future PLC

    Start by taking down curtains and blinds. If you can, take the opportunity to give drapes a thorough wash or spritz with a fabric freshener like Febreze. Use a dry brush or dusting attachment on your vacuum to sweep away any dust or cobwebs from around the corners of the windows and the windowsills.

    2. Make homemade cleaning solutions

    If you prefer making your own cleaning solutions, add two tablespoons of vinegar to a small bucket of warm water (this won’t kill bacteria, though). If your windows need tough love, add two tablespoons of household ammonia, but wear rubber gloves.

    hot sopay water in a bowl with cleaning cloth

    Image credit: Polly Eltes/ Future PLC

    Cleaning expert, Lynsey Queen of Clean recommends using white vinegar to clean windows. ‘When you spray it you don’t need much, it’s going to smell for about 15 minutes, but it’s going to disappear.’

    You can also wash your windows with soapy water. Fill a bucket with a simple solution of washing-up liquid and warm water, but avoid creating too many soap suds as these will leave further marks if allowed to dry. Start washing windows using a non-abrasive sponge.

    Top tip: One to try, as seen shared on cleaning group forums is the quirky teabag cleaning hack. Apparently cold tea is the secret to gleaming, streak-free windows and glass. To try the teabag cleaning hack at home, use kitchen towel dipped into a mug of cold black tea. Wipe the tea over the surface and buff dry with a clean soft cloth.

    3. Start with the frames

    Start with the frames first, so you don’t drip dirty water on clean panes. A wipe with a wet sponge should do the trick, but if they’re very grubby, use mild detergent on wood or specialist cleaner on uPVC.

    4. Use an S-shaped motion when cleaning the glass panes

    How to clean windows

    Image credit: Debi Treloar/ Future PLC

    Clean the panes of glass by sponging them down with warm soapy water. Dip a sponge or the foam part of a squeegee into the water, squeeze out the excess, then rub gently on the glass. To clean the window throughly work in an S-shape advises Lynsey. ‘With your microfibre cloth work in the shape of an S so you will get into every bit and that will stop the smears.’

    Snake the squeegee’s rubber strip down the window in a reverse ‘S’ pattern from a top corner. At the end of each stroke, wipe it clean of suds, water and dirt with a lint-free cloth. Stubborn marks may need a going over with a sponge.

    5. Wipe off any excess cleaner to prevent streaks

    You can use a squeegee for a streak free finish. Also work in an S-shape. Periodically wipe the squeegee blade on a clean rag to avoid smearing dirt around. Remove remaining water with a damp chamois or microfibre cloth and dry the windowsill.

    Avoid paper towels or cloths that might leave lint on the glass. For exterior upper-floor panes, it’s worth investing in a gadget with a U-shaped pole to avoid reaching out of top-floor windows!

    Top tip: Picked up from years of working in a hairdressers filled with mirrors, use scrunched-up newspaper to wipe the glass clean. Buffing your windows with crumpled newspaper gives windows a sparkling finish. The paper helps to absorb any leftover cleaning fluid, leaving the surface streak free.

    Rub in a circular pattern to wipe off dirt, then switch to a vertical, then horizontal, stroke until the liquid has disappeared.

    6. Clean the window edges

    How to clean windows

    Image credit: David Brittain/ Future PLC

    Finish by wiping off excess water or suds from the edges and windowsill using an absorbent cloth. Repeat the process on the inside of your windows.

    Most window edges will be left gleaming after washing with soapy water. However, if you have white PVC Lynsey recommends using a cream based cleaner or a whitening product to keep them looking new. ‘You could use a white toothpaste. Leave it to do its work and that will whiten the frame,’ advises Lynsey.

    7. Get the timing right

    You might think washing windows on a sunny day is the ideal time, as the light makes it easier to spot smears. In reality, it’s best to aim for a cloudy day. Sunshine will create glare on the glass, making it harder to see how clean they are. It could also dry the cleaning solution before you have a chance to wipe it off, leaving unsightly streaks.

    Wash windows every two to three months, so you’ll have less to do each time you clean – because less build up means they’ll be easier to clean.

    Do you have any tips for cleaning windows? We would love to hear them.

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