Choosing the right window cleaner for a streak-free finish

Home Depot

If you've ever washed your windows, you know the feeling: You wait until the weather is just right, get everything together and spend a few hours outside, working your way methodically around the house to wash every window. When you're done, you breathe a big sigh of relief, clean up and head back inside. As soon as you enter the house and look out a window, you see them -- streaks. Not just one or two, but many.

Put an end to those frustrating days by making sure you have the right tools and the best window cleaner for the job.

Consider the following questions to learn more about what you need to get the streak-free finish you've been searching for:

- What forms do window cleaners come in?
- How can you make your own window-cleaning solution?
- What tools and materials will you need to effectively clean windows?
- What steps can you take to ensure streak-free windows?
- Are there any special cleaner or tool features you'd like to have?


Cleaners, tools and tips

Before you begin painstakingly cleaning your window panes, clean the frames and sills first. If you clean them afterward, you may end up soiling or streaking the windows you worked so hard to clean. Glass cleaners can be purchased or mixed up at home using various substances including dish soap, ammonia and vinegar. Windows need to be cleaned both inside and out, though you'll probably wash the outside less frequently, perhaps no more than a couple times each year. Scrubbers, squeegees and lint-free cloths will all come in handy for washing windows. If you have a two-story house or high windows that are difficult to reach, you may want to consider calling a professional window-cleaning service to tackle windows you can't safely or easily reach.

Window Cleaners:
- No-drip cleaners utilize a thicker formula, making them less likely to run down to the bottom of a window before you've had a chance to wipe
- Prepackaged wipes come with cleaning solution already applied and are ideal for use on smaller windows
- Diluting a small amount of ammonia, rubbing alcohol or vinegar in water creates a solution that's effective on soil and grease
- Mixing warm water with cornstarch or dish soap creates an effective general window cleanser

Tools and Materials:
- Use a five-gallon bucket to hold cleaning solution and change water as it gets dirty to maintain effectiveness
- Prior to cleaning, use a razor blade to remove sap, dried paint or other hard substances
- Some scrubbers come with a bucket designed specifically to match their size
- Squeegees with replaceable rubber blades allow you to reuse them over and over again
- Replace blades at the first sign of wear to maintain effectiveness
- Plastic clips help secure squeegee blades in place for more precise use

Cleaner Forms Tools and Materials Needed Points to Consider
  • Foam
  • Liquid
  • No-drip
  • Spray
  • Wipe
  • Bucket
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Scrubber
  • Sponge
  • Squeegee
  • Porcupine scrubbers are ideal for scraping sap and other substances from the surface of windows
  • Extension poles make it easy to reach high windows with both scrubbers and squeegees

Washing Tips: In addition to having the right cleaner and tools for the job, there are steps you can take to increase the effectiveness of your window washing technique. For instance, avoid cleaning windows when the sun is shining directly on them. The sun dries the cleaning solution very quickly, often before you've had a chance to wipe it off, which creates streaks. When using a squeegee, start at the top of the window and work side-to-side. Working horizontally makes it easier to push excess water toward the unwashed part of the window. Use a clean cloth or a chamois to dry the squeegee between strokes. Then, use a rag or towel to wipe up the water that drips down onto the sill as well as the corners of the panes.

- Clean frames, sills and cross pieces prior to washing window panes
- Squeeze excess water from scrubbers before applying to windows
- Squeegees can be used on both inside and outside window surfaces
- Use adhesive removers to get rid of residue from stickers or labels prior to cleaning
- Avoid mixing cleaners together, as the chemicals may react to form dangerous gases
- Tinted windows may require different care, so consult the manufacturer's instructions


Features

Combination Scrubber/Squeegee: The fewer items you have to lug around, the better, especially when you're up on a ladder. Combination scrubber/squeegees perform the work of two tools to make your window washing job easier.

Shower Squeegee: Squeegees aren't just for windows. To prevent buildup of tough-to-clean hard water stains, soap scum and mineral deposits in your shower, pick up a shower squeegee. Simply wipe down the walls after each shower and you'll find that cleaning is much easier.

Multipurpose Cleansers: All-purpose cleansers allow you to tackle glass as well as a variety of other surfaces, including stainless steel, solid-surface materials, chrome and more. Having one on hand saves you the trouble of keeping a plethora of specialized cleaning solutions in your storage closet.

Rain Shield: If you're concerned about your windows spotting, apply a rain shield. This substance should be applied according to the manufacturer's instructions and then buffed off, after which it will prevent spots from appearing even when it rains, snows or sleets.


Need expert assistance? Visit your local Home Depot store to ask their associates about products or how-to instructions. The Home Depot expert associates are also available to answer your questions online. Visit them here.

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