How to clean your windows without streaking

Have you ever spent hours washing your windows, only to notice streaks everywhere? This has to do with the evaporation rate—if your cleaning solution evaporates before you have time to wipe it off, it will leave a mark. 

Alcohol- and ammonia-based cleaners evaporate more quickly than vinegar, but any window cleaner can leave streaks if it isn’t removed fast enough. The trick is to work fast, and use the right tools.

Woman wearing yellow gloves cleans a window with a cloth and spray bottle.

Table of contents

Window cleaning suppliesHow to clean the inside of your windowsHow to clean the outside of your windows

Window cleaning supplies

There’s only a few things you need to get your windows sparkling clean.

  • Window cleaning solution. Any commercial glass cleaner will work, but you can also make your own window cleaner. Simply combine ¾ cup white vinegar, 3 teaspoons dish soap, and ½ teaspoon baking soda in a spray bottle and shake to combine.

  • Newspaper (or microfiber cloths). Crumpled up newspaper is a great way to dry glass surfaces, but if your newspaper subscriptions are all digital, you can use clean, lint-free microfiber cloths. Paper towels are fine in a pinch, but you may have to use a lot of them.

  • Bonus: squeegee. A squeegee is a rubber bladed tool that professional window cleaners use to leave their windows completely streak-free. It’s not entirely necessary for cleaning windows, but it’s great for large glass windows, including the kind found in some showers.

How to clean the inside of your windows

Here’s how to tackle the inside of a window, step by step.

Tip: A lot of housekeeping tasks are best done on a sunny day, when you can see every speck of dirt clearly, and use the sun’s rays to dry and sanitize. When it comes to cleaning windows, however, the sun is your enemy, because it causes the cleaning solution to dry before you’ve had the chance to wipe it off.

  1. Dust. Start by removing excess dust with a feather duster or rag. This will prevent dreaded dust streaks on your windows.

  2. Clean the windowsill. If you haven’t cleaned your windows in a while, dusting might not be enough. Use a clean cloth and soapy water to remove additional dust and dirt from the windowsill and frame. (Placing a large rag or towel under the window will help catch any drips.)

  3. Spray window cleaning solution. Working one windowpane at a time, spray with your preferred window cleaner. One of the biggest mistakes in window cleaning is to over-spray, making it hard to wipe off the cleaning solution. 

  4. Dry the window. Immediately after you’ve sprayed your window with the cleaning solution, wipe it off from side to side using crumpled newspaper or a clean microfiber cloth. Work quickly to avoid streaks. If using a squeegee, wipe the squeegee over the window at an angle, from top to bottom. Squeegee lovers: You’ll definitely want a towel or rag on the windowsill to catch the drips. Repeat the cleaning process until all smudges and streaks are gone.

How to clean the outside of your windows

You won’t be able to enjoy the shiny interior of your windows if the exterior is dirty. Cleaning the outside of a window can be a bit more challenging, depending on the type of window and where you live. 

Here are some options:

  • Go outside. If you live on the first floor, cleaning the exterior of your windows is as easy as stepping outside. If your exterior window is really dirty (it probably is), clean it with warm water and soap and dry it off with a rag before applying the window cleaner.

  • Bring the outside in. Most double-hung windows can be tilted inward by unlocking the windows and pulling the clips on the sash inwards, allowing you to clean the exterior of the window even if you live on the top floor.

  • Call a professional. Some windows just aren’t accessible. If you live above the ground floor and have windows that don’t tilt inward, call a professional window washer to help you get the job done.

Looking for a home where monthly cleaning is always on the books? Bungalow’s homes are handpicked for shared living, located in the best neighborhoods, and set up for seamless living. Common spaces come furnished, cleanings are scheduled monthly, and payments are handled individually on our app. Whether you already have roommates or are looking for new ones, there’s a Bungalow with your name on it. Find your Bungalow.

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