Do you often wonder the best way to clean windows without streaks? It can be so discouraging to find a bunch of streaks on all the windows you just cleaned around your home. Don't resign yourself to a lifetime of streaky windows - with a simple, streak-free cleaning solution and the right tools, your windows and mirrors will shine streak-free in no time.
How Professional Window Cleaners Get Streak-Free
Turning skeptics into believers, this simple yet effective window cleaning recipe even encouraged lifestyle blogger, Alison Moore Smith, to hang up her very prestigious, professional window cleaning tools in favor of a quicker, easier method.
- 3.5 ounces dishwasher rinse aid
- 4 tablespoons of rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup powder dishwashing detergent
- 1/4 cup ammonia
- 2 gallons of hot water
- Combine all the ingredients together in a bucket, mixing well.
- Using a spray attachment on your garden hose, remove surface grime by spraying the window down (avoid spraying directly on the outer seals).
- Dip a microfiber mop into the cleaning solution. Use the mop to scrub the window's surface.
- Rinse again thoroughly using the hose.
Tip: The magic bullet of this recipe is the sheeting action caused by the dishwasher rinse aid. In fact, Tracy from TGIF used just a tablespoon of Jet Dry brand rinse aid mixed into half a gallon of warm water and a couple of spoonfuls of Dawn dishwashing detergent and ended up with the same streak free results. However, all the remaining ingredients in this recipe make excellent glass cleaners, especially for hard water deposits, according to Elite Window Washing.
Make Your Own Streak-Free Solution for Indoor Glass
The following DIY window cleaner uses vinegar and it was recommended hands down the best homemade glass cleaner by popular clean living blogger, Crunchy Betty, who put four common concoctions to the test.
- 1/4 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
- 1/4 cup Isopropyl alcohol
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 cups hot water
- Several drops of essential oil (citrus or floral scent - optional)
- Combine all the ingredients together in a large 20 ounce spray bottle. Shake vigorously until the corn starch is dissolved.
- Hold the bottle 6 to 8 inches away from the window's surface. Starting at the top, spray an even coat of cleaner over the entire surface.
- Wipe the solution away with a soft, lint free cloth.
Tip: Remember to shake the mixture before each use to keep the cornstarch (a.k.a the secret streak slayer) mixed well so it doesn't clog the sprayer. Use a sharpie to label your bottle as "Glass Cleaner - Shake Well".
Best Way to Clean Outside Windows Without Streaks
Many DIY home improvement experts recommend very simple cleaning solutions for outdoor windows. According to experts, the secret to streak-free outdoor windows is technique and using professional tools.
- Both Ron Hazelton and Brent Weingard note that about a tablespoon (or squirt) of dishwashing detergent to a bucket of water is good. The Family Handiman recommends a slightly different ratio at one teaspoon of detergent to two gallons of water.
- Martha Stewart recommends using one part white vinegar to one part warm water.
- Combine the dishwashing detergent or vinegar with water in a large bucket.
- Apply the cleaning solution with a long window scrubber or large natural sea sponge on smaller panes you can easily reach.
- Remove the cleaning solution with a rubber blade squeegee. On large picture windows, start in the upper left corner and pull the squeegee over the surface in a reverse "S" pattern. On smaller or narrower windows, use the tip of the squeegee to clean a narrow strip along the top or side of the window. Remove the cleaning solution in overlapping rows, always starting from the clean strip. Wipe the blade of the squeegee after each stroke with a clean lint free cloth.
- Use a damp, well-wrung chamois to remove any excess water near the edges, which will absorb the moisture without leaving streaks.
Cleaning Tool Checklist
No matter which cleaning solution recipe you decide to try, it's important to use a cleaning tool that doesn't leave lint and helps prevents streaks. Tools that make the job easier are also a plus:
- Microfiber cloths and microfiber mops (for hard to reach exterior windows): Microfiber cleaning tools eliminate the lint left by other types of cleaning rags.
- Squeegee: This handy tool has a handle and a rubber blade used to wipe away the cleaning solution. Many come with built-in or attachable microfiber scrubber sleeves or have built-in vacuums to suck away moisture without leaving streaks.
- Newspaper: Use regular black and white newsprint, not the slick ads or colored comic section. The newspaper eliminates the lint that comes with paper towels.
- Coffee filters: An unused coffee filter is similar to the newspaper option in that it eliminates lint. One advantage is it doesn't have the ink of the newspaper so your hands won't end up covered in ink.
- Wheeled bucket or empty squirt bottle: A bucket on wheels comes in handy for cleaning outdoor windows while a squirt bottle is more convenient for indoor use or for pre-treating stubborn hard water spots with vinegar.
Try a few of these options to decide which one you prefer.
Additional Tips and Tricks to Clean Glass Without Streaks
Don't give up if your first attempt at cleaning your windows doesn't come out perfect. Try a small tweak to your cleaning solution or one of these tips:
- Fill a squirt bottle with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and distilled water (or undiluted vinegar for very resistant spots) to remove white spots caused by hard water build-up. Spray the spots and remove with a microfiber cloth or soft bristle cleaning brush. Rinse with clean water and squeegee dry or follow up with the no-squeegee method.
- When using microfiber cleaning cloths, either dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out or spray the glass surface. Begin to wipe in a circular motion and as the spots disappear, follow-up with vertical strokes and finish with horizontal strokes (or vice versa). Use your finger tips/fingernails for extra scrubbing power or scrunch up the cloth on stubborn spots.
- Finish one side of the window with horizontal strokes and the other side with vertical strokes so if streaks appear, you know which side they are on.
- Lemon juice and baking soda (mixed with water to form a paste) are also effective at removing spots from windows or mirrors. Allow the baking soda paste to sit a few minutes on stubborn stains like toothpaste or hold a cloth soaked in cleaning solution against the spot to loosen its hold. Add lemon juice to any homemade cleaner for a refreshing scent. Whenever possible, use distilled water to help eliminate streaks.
- Shaving cream removes soap scum from glass shower doors, cleans cloudy mirrors and will prevent foggy windows and mirrors in the bathroom after hot showers. Apply the cream with your fingertips and smear it all over the surface. Remove it with a clean, dry cloth and reapply every 2-3 weeks.
- When using a squeegee, use one continuous motion from top to bottom. Wipe the solution off of the squeegee with a damp cloth before making your next pass on the window. Overlap the clean area slightly so you don't leave a line of solution between each squeegee pass.
- Buff away streaks left from squeegeeing with a dry microfiber cloth or crumbled up newspaper.
- If you prefer using newspaper or a coffee filter, apply the solution with a spray bottle. Wipe the solution away using horizontal or vertical strokes for a streak-free finish.
- Clean your windows on an overcast day or when the sun isn't shining directly on the window. The sun dries the cleaning solution before you can remove it, leaving behind streaks and marks.
- Always wet the glass or use a damp cloth to remove spots on the window. Scraping at a spot on a dry window might scratch the glass. Rubbing dry dirt can also cause small scratches on the glass surface.
- Never use abrasives on the windows. You might scratch the glass.
- Avoid using paper towels as they leave bits of lint and paper remnants.
- If you use a commercial window cleaner, choose one with an ammonia base like Windex. This lets the solution dry faster and reduces the chances of chemicals being left behind. Never use an ammonia-based cleaner on tinted windows.
- Take special care when cleaning stained glass. Dust the surface frequently and use only filtered or distilled water to avoid discoloring the glass.
- Try different combinations of cleaning solutions and cleaning tools to find the one that works best for you.
Seeing Clearly Now
Learning a quicker and easier method for cleaning your windows with streak-free results is likely to encourage more frequent cleanings. The more often you clean your windows, the easier they are to clean -- clearly a win-win solution!