Window Washing and Cleaning Glass the Easy, Green Way
Window Cleaning is one of those special projects around the house that nobody really looks forward to. Seems like a lot of work, and it can be frustrating and tiring. But if you know how to clean windows the easiest and most eco-friendly way, you may even learn to enjoy doing windows.
After all, when you are finished your windows are shiny and grime free; especially if you have a good sense of balance and decide to tackle the outside of the windows as well, yourself. I’m not advocating that though. If you are not absolutely comfortable on a ladder, then hire a window cleaning service. It’s not as expensive as you might think.
DIY Window Cleaning
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED
- Vacuum cleaner and/or dusting cloths
- Squeegee—good quality, and the right size for the job
- Polishing cloths—lint free is best, such as cotton bar towels or automotive polishing pads or cloths
- Towel—to absorb excess water
- Bucket—small with a handle
- Scrubber brush—soft nylon bristles
- Sponges or Rags
GREEN WINDOW CLEANING PRODUCTS YOU’LL NEED
- Club Soda
- Vinegar—white, distilled
- Dish detergent or soap
- Distilled water—for best results cleaning glass
Windows are made of frames and glass and a little bit of metal hardware. It doesn’t make sense to clean the glass panes of your window without cleaning the rest of the window first.
Washing Windows Outside – Frames, Sills, and Panes
BEST WINDOW CLEANING SOLUTION for grimy window glass
½ cup distilled white vinegar
½ teaspoon dish soap or detergent
2 cups distilled water
Few drops of essential oil (lemon is great with vinegar)
Mix into a spray bottle and shake to blend. (Thanks to Annie Berthold-Bond’s Better Basics for the Home for this recipe. I use it constantly in my green housecleaning service.)
Clean and rinse your window frame and windowsill using dish detergent and water mixed in your bucket, and your sponges and scrubber brush to wash and rags to dry.
First Floor Windows that you can reach with a ladder: Wash all window frames and sills first, then go back and wash all the glass.
Upper Story Windows and hard to reach windows: since you are using a ladder, you will want to do each window completely before moving your ladder. You will have to climb down with your window frame cleaning supplies and then back up with your glass cleaning solution and tools, your glass cleaner spray bottle, squeegee, polishing cloth, and absorbent rag.
Spray a generous amount of solution on the glass pane. Top first of course. Wipe around the outside of the glass with your cloth to dry about an inch border. With a very light, relaxed grip on your squeegee, start in the dry area of the window and draw the squeegee lightly and slowly across the glass. Dry the blade before starting your next swipe. Work from top to bottom. Sop up excess cleaning solution with the rag. It will only work well if the squeegee is dry and starts from a dry place on the glass (that border you dried first).
If your windows are gunky with hardened on goop, you may have to scrub the window glass with the soft scrubber brush, and use a putty knife to lift off gobs of stuff. Then proceed with the Best Window Washing Solution and squeegee.
Note that using a squeegee to wash glass is by far the greenest method of washing windows and all glass surfaces that are flat enough and large enough for a squeegee. Now that you’ve done the hard part, the windows outside the inside won’t seem so bad!
CLEANING Windows Inside
First dust your windows thoroughly using a dusting cloth, dusting mitt, or your vacuum cleaner with the soft brush attachment. If you have blinds or shades on your windows, or even curtains and valances, now is the time to get them clean too. Might as well!
Venetian Blinds—clean these by simply dusting both sides using a dust cloth or wand, or the vacuum cleaner soft brush attachment and low suction. If the blinds are dirty, not just dusty, use a damp–not wet–microfiber cloth and gently wipe the slats, both sides from top to bottom. Follow right behind your damp cloth with a soft dry cloth and dry immediately. One cloth in each hand is efficient.
If your blinds are dirty and greasy, like say they are in your kitchen windows, you’ll need your Acid All Purpose Cleaner. Close the blinds. Wet a sponge or microfiber cloth with warm water and some dish soap. Rub all over the slats in order to loosen the greasy dirt. Now spray your Acid All Purpose Cleaner all over the closed blinds. Using your rinsed out cleaning sponge or cloth, wipe all that greasy dirt right off the blinds. All praises for white distilled vinegar!
If your blinds are really super grimy or greasy, you may have to remove them from the windows and wash them outside on the lawn or hanging from a fence with your hose and nozzle, a bucket of soapy water and a soft brush. Finish with a spray of vinegar and wipe clean. Be gentle. I don’t advise attempting to wash blinds in the bathtub since you can’t stretch them out in there, and you could easily break them and scratch your tub to boot.
Tip Try to not let them get really dirty in the first place ; D
Fabric shades, curtains or drapes can be gently vacuumed using the weakest motor setting on your vacuum cleaner and the soft brush attachment, or washed in the washing machine depending on manufacturers recommendations.
Washing inside window glass is as simple as spraying on some club soda and squeegeeing as described above, with a light relaxed touch. For small paned windows a squeegee won’t be practical so use your glass or polishing microfiber cloth (easy to find in the automotive sections of stores) and clean each pane individually. You will get tired washing each pane, so you may have to break up this chore into a couple of sessions, just to keep it from being a chore!
Usually club soda works perfectly for indoor glass and chrome surfaces, but if you burn wood in your fireplace or incense on a regular basis, your indoor glass may be sooty. If so, feel free to use the vinegar and soap based Best Window Washing Solution mentioned above.
First dust off and if necessary gently scrub all food and debris from the surface of the table using a nylon scrubber pad. Don’t use green scratchy pads.
Then use club soda to clean both sides of the tabletop.
If you are getting streaking, you may need to try the Best Window Washing Solution since it has grease and wax cutting soap and vinegar in it. Your glass table may well be coated with a protective coating of some sort, so be careful, testing one area first.
Inside the oven treat the glass the same way you treat the oven. I’ll be posting about non-toxic oven cleaning in the Kitchen Section of Naturally Bubbly very soon. Also check our post about cleaning wood burning stoves.
Cleaning Glass Stovetops
Remove all debris from stovetop that you can sweep up. Use club soda and a polishing cloth to clean glass if there are not greasy puddles. If you need a degreaser, turn to your Acid All Purpose Cleaner.
Cleaning Glass Tile
For light jobs use the Acid All Purpose Cleaner and a sponge. Spray on your homemade solution and let it sit for a few moments. Then rub gently all over the tiles with the sponge. Rinse off with water (it’s important to rinse the vinegar off the grout between the tiles) and lightly squeegee. Polish tiles with a slightly damp glass polishing cloth until all residues are gone and the tile is shiny, just like any other glass surface.
Shower Glass Cleaning
May need the full treatment you give to a really soap scummy and scale-hardened shower tiles if the shower glass is that scummy. See Bathroom Deep Cleaning. If it is not scummy but has hard water stains, try the same method used for cleaning glass tiles.
Glass Cleaning with Lemons
Here’s a fun and sensuous way to wash inside glass especially if you want to make a half day project out of it. Mix up your Best Window Washing Solution using fresh lemon juice instead of vinegar. 2 teaspoons of fresh or bottled lemon juice instead of the vinegar. If you use fresh lemons, you can toss some peel in the bottle. It will look cool while you are working with it, and it will add to the lemony scent with lemon zest from the peel. You whole house will smell super clean and fresh when you are finished glass and window cleaning.