Hiring a professional window cleaning service to clean those difficult-to-reach windows can bring new life to your home and eliminate the need to dangle from that upstairs window as you clean them by hand. But, windows won't stay clean forever. You still need to know how to clean your windows effectively so you can keep those windows in common areas of the home sparkling clean between professional cleanings.


There are a wide variety of window cleaners on the market that claim to provide streak-free window cleaning. If you don't have any objections to commercial cleaners, go ahead and buy the one you prefer. Look for one with ammonia as this is the most effective ingredient in most glass cleaners. If you prefer a more natural cleaner, or just want to save money, there are a number of homemade window cleaning recipes you can try.

  • Vinegar and Water: Vinegar cuts grease and grime and rinses away soil to leave your windows streak-free. Don't worry about the odor as it dissipates quickly, leaving the area smelling fresh and clean. You will need white distilled vinegar for window cleaning. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean your windows.

  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice also cuts grease and grime and can be used as a window cleaner. Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice to a quart of warm water and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix the solution and use as you would use commercial glass cleaner.

  • Borax: Heavily soiled windows require a little more work. Try mixing four tablespoons of borax (you can find it in the laundry aisle) with a quart of warm water. Use the solution to scrub away stubborn dirt or fingerprints. Rinse the window with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to remove traces of borax and rinse away grime.

  • Combination: If you aren't opposed to adding a little rubbing alcohol to your window cleaner, give this one a try. Mix 1/2-cup of both white vinegar and rubbing alcohol with a quart of hot water. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch and mix well.

Washing the Window

Many people prefer to put their window cleaner in a spray bottle and spray it on the window and wiping it away with paper towels or a soft cloth. This is a convenient method and works well for quick touch ups. However, filling a bowl or bucket with the solution and saturating a rag to wash the windows may be more effective for cleaning heavily soiled windows. It is a little messier, but may produce better results, depending on the degree of soil on the windows.

Drying the Window

After washing the windows, you will need to remove the water so your windows dry streak-free and smudge-free. These are several options for removing the water from the window.

  • Newspapers: Many old timers swear by using crumpled newspapers to dry the windows, claiming it leaves them streak-free and sparkling clean. Two advantages of using newspapers to clean the windows are that they do not produce lint and are very absorbent.  Because ink will not stick to glass, there are no worries about the ink staining the window, but it will get on your hands.

  • Paper Towels: If you are going to use paper towels to dry your windows, look for towels that are lint-free. Generally, generic towels do a better job of window cleaning because they produce less lint, but you may need to experiment with several brands to find the one that works best for you.

  • Soft Cloth: You can also use a dry, soft cloth to dry your windows. This works well if you are only cleaning a window or two, otherwise if the cloth becomes damp you will need a new dry cloth to prevent streaking.

  • Squeegee: Squeegees are convenient and allow you to whisk away the water from the window. You do need a cloth to wipe the edge frequently to remove excess water and grime. There is even a new squeegee on the market that vacuums the water away as you swipe over the window.


Nearly everyone has their own special tricks to getting windows clean, but here are a few tips to follow.

  • Wash your windows on an overcast day. Bright sunshine dries the window cleaner too quickly and causes streaks to form.

  • Enlist a buddy to help you. It can be difficult to tell which side of the window a streak or smudge is on. With one person on each side of the window, you can work together to banish those streaks easily.

  • Begin at the top of the window and work your way down to avoid drips onto clean windows.

Get in the habit of giving your windows a touch up frequently to keep them looking good and to let sunshine enter your home.