Let’s face it, looking out of dirty streaked windows is not satisfying at all. And while the chore of window washing is often dreaded because of the tendency of unsatisfying results, getting positive effects is possible when you take the right approach. Check out the following list we’ve compiled on the 9 most common window washing mistakes that cause lackluster results.
Mistake #1 Washing Windows in the Heat of the Sun
While it may seem sensible to take advantage of a hot sunny day to clean those windows, this is a common mistake. The sun’s heat actually causes the cleaning solution to dry faster, resulting in spots and streaks. This is especially true if you spray a large portion of the window and allow the solution to set. Most professional window cleaners prefer to work on cooler, cloudy days, however, if a hot, sunny day works best with your schedule, try cleaning small sections at a time.
Mistake #2 Being Stingy with Cleaning Solution
Using too little cleaning solution can often make a window look dirtier than before you started, regardless of how much wiping you do. Instead, a generous amount of cleaner will aid in breaking down the dirt and grime, and require less elbow grease. Additionally, this process will go faster and your windows will be cleaner for longer intervals.
Mistake #3 Failing to Scrape Away Excess Dirt
In order to restore those extremely dirty windows to pristine condition, you may need to focus on a multi-step process. Let’s face it, windows tend to collect everything from cooking grease and other air-borne particles on the inside panes to pollen, dust and rain spots on the outside. And because window cleaning is a chore that most of us avoid, dust and dirt is bound to accumulate. So, if you have extra dirty windows, try cleaning off the excess buildup using a scraper, then lather on the cleaning solution to wash away the buildup, followed by a good polish with a lint-free, microfiber cloth.
Mistake #4 Using Paper Towels Instead of Cloth
A common mistake in window washing is opting to dry off the glass with paper towels. It seems sensible enough to use clean paper towels in lieu of a standard cleaning cloth that may leave a residue behind, but paper towels are not the best choice. Choosing the right kind of material for window washing can mean the difference between satisfying or disappointing results. While old rags may have detergent residue, and paper towels are far less absorbent than cloth, opting for a quality microfiber cloth will help eliminate lint and streaks. Plus, microfiber cloths don’t tear like paper towels and with proper care, they can be used again and again, which makes it an environmentally friendly option.
Mistake #5 Not Applying the Proper Technique
Many of us are familiar with the frustration of working so diligently to clean a window and wiping repeatedly to remove any residue only to have spots occur once dry. Surprisingly, in addition to all the steps listed above, the wiping technique that you use is a key element as well. Rather than using circular strokes or wiping in a straight line, try the “S” technique instead. Not only does this method help eliminate streaks and the need for a redo, it offers a more fluid motion that allows you to complete the task in record time.
Mistake #6 Washing Windows with Water that Has a High Mineral Content
Water that has lots of minerals is typically referred to as hard water, and it can occur whether you have well water or city water. Undoubtedly, if you do have hard water, you’re already well aware of the problems it can cause ranging from hard water stains in the tub or shower to buildup on those faucet spouts. Likewise, those added minerals can make your window washing efforts seem in vain when you’re left with spotted, blurry windows. It may be worth having a water softener system installed throughout your home, which will alleviate the other issues you’re dealing with, as well as give you cleaner windows. However, if that isn’t an option, you can use distilled water that is readily available in gallon.
Mistake #7 Not Cleaning Windows Inside and Out
Undoubtedly it can be tempting to clean only the inside of the window, leaving the outside to be washed by the rain or perhaps sprayed down with a hose. In reality though, cleaning only half the window will give you so-so results. Failing to use a cleaning solution and taking the time to physically wipe down the exterior window will result in spotted windows, plus, if dirt isn’t removed from windows regularly, it can become baked on from the sun causing permanent damage.
Mistake #8 Polishing the Glass in a Single Direction
Avoid the temptation to use the same directional strokes on the inside and outside of windows. Instead, when cleaning windows inside and out, a quick tip is to use opposing directions on either side of the glass. In doing so, you can easily determine whether that missed spot or streak is on the inside or out. For instance, clean the inside of the window with vertical “S-shaped” strokes while using a horizontal direction on the exterior side of the window.
Mistake #9 Failing to Use the Correct Tools
In today’s world of having access to so much information online, it can be quite difficult to decipher what works and what doesn’t. Add to that, the plethora of DIY, budget-friendly or frugal advice given by good intentioned family members or friends. For example, a common tip for cleaning windows is to use old newspaper. There’s no denying this is a frugal tip, and perhaps it was a good option for our grandparents or parents. However, the chemicals used in newspaper production nowadays has been shown to actually damage window glass and will very likely permanently stain the window frame materials as well. Bottom line, if you plan to take the DIY approach of cleaning windows, at least follow the protocol of professionals.
Overall, successful window cleaning requires just a few basic tools which include a squeegee, sponge, bucket, scraper, quality cloth, and even a mop for those hard-to-reach windows.
- • Scraper – This tool isn’t always necessary, but definitely beneficial for removing nasty buildup and stains. Always apply light, even pressure and scrape in a single direction to avoid scratching surfaces.
- • Sponge– Use a sponge to apply the cleaning solution and lather it up. For those out of reach windows, a mop makes a great substitution here.
- • Squeegee – While a squeegee isn’t an absolute must-have tool, it can prove quite useful in wiping away the excess cleaning solution and water, thus reducing the number of cloths used.
- • Bucket – If you haven’t already guessed it, the bucket holds the cleaning solution. Remember you’ll get the best results by avoiding hard water when mixing the chemicals.
- • Cleaning Solution – With so many varieties available on the market, as well as recipes for homemade solutions, it’s a good idea to consult a professional when choosing a window cleaning solution. This is because certain chemicals can damage window frames and even compromise the integrity or lifespan of window glass.
- • Microfiber cloth – A quality microfiber will produce a streak-free, lint-free window in that final polishing stage.
Cleaning windows the right way takes practice. And while it’s not necessarily a difficult task, it is a tedious job that requires time, proper tools, and know-how.
Of course, watching the sunrise through your bedroom window or admiring the birds while washing dishes is certainly best when experienced through a sparkling clean window. However, from indoor splatters caused cooking and cleaning, or the innocent smudges from those curious pressed-faces of kids, to the growing algae from low lying branches or what seems to be the birds using windows for target practice those windows can get dirty rather quickly it seems. Did you know that cleaning windows regularly actually protects the glass from long-term damage and can also reduce heating and cooling costs? The frequency of these routine cleanings is largely determined by the climate you live in, but it’s something worth adding to your annual checklist of home maintenance. Anyway, for now, by incorporating the suggestions we’ve provided here, you’ll reap the rewards of your hard work with streak-free windows.