For many, there is one cleaning chore they dread above all others: washing windows and glass doors. It’s such a time-consuming task, with multiple windows in every home and two sides to every window. It can also feel pointless, when you pour hours into a painstaking wash, only to find your windows are still streaked or smeared.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look and hopefully answer some commonly asked window-cleaning questions.
What is the best homemade glass cleaner?
When it comes to cleaning glass, often a homemade solution is best. A mixture of soap, water and vinegar is commonly accepted as a brilliant glass cleaner because it breaks through grime and minimises streaks just as effectively as shop-bought brands.
And these raid-the-cupboard mixes are not only super-effective, they’re cheap and adaptable too. You can play with the proportions or add extra ingredients such as essential oils or even cornstarch to maximise their effectiveness.
If you’re looking for a good base, our preferred glass cleaning solution is as follows:
● 1 part rubbing alcohol
● 1 part vinegar
● 8 parts warm water
These aren’t your only common household window cleaning options though. People often ask can you use washing up liquid to clean windows? The short answer is yes, though it works best as a prewash. Soap a particularly grimy window with a mix of washing up liquid and water, then rinse with a vinegar/alcohol solution to help minimise streaking.
Another common question is; can you use malt vinegar to clean windows?
This answer is more nuanced. If your glass is smoked, or a dark colour already, then you are fine to use malt vinegar but in general white vinegar is best for window cleaning. ‘White’ vinegar is actually clear so it shouldn’t stain the glass.
What is the best way to clean windows without streaking?
When you’ve spent all that time washing your windows, it is frustrating to find the glass is still stained by streaks after it dries. This can often be traced to two common mistakes, either using too much detergent or leaving too much water behind.
Luckily, with the right tools and the right steps, it’s easy to achieve a streak-free finish. To start, assemble these items, as well as your bucket and your cleaner:
● a sponge
● a squeegee
● a towel
● a dry microfibre cloth
Now, with all the tools you need close to hand, follow our streak free glass cleaning tips:
1. First mix up your glass cleaner of choice according to instructions.
2. Spritz your window with a small amount of cleaner and leave for a couple of seconds to work.
3. Swipe the squeegee across the surface of the glass. Start at the top of the window pane, and snake your way down with strong, steady strokes. The pressure here is key. If you’re too soft, you’ll leave water behind, too hard and you’ll find it difficult to move the squeegee.
4. After each swipe, run the squeegee over the towel to clean the dirty washing liquid away.
5. Wipe the edges of the window with a dry microfibre cloth or rag. You can also use this to rub away at any stubborn finger marks or spots. Just make sure you keep the cloth dry – if it gets damp it will leave streaks on the window.
6. Finally, take your towel and rub the windowsill down to catch any water that dripped. This can be a dirty job, so it doesn’t matter if the towel is already damp.
And here are our final glass cleaning tips to ensure your windows stay streak free:
● Try not to wash your windows when the sun is shining directly on them – they’ll dry too fast.
● Pick an appropriate sized squeegee for the window, it will help you make steady contact with the glass.
● Resist the urge to whip out the pressure washer, at best they’ll give you an uneven wash and streaky finish. At worst, a high pressure will damage the window.
What is the best cleaner for glass shower doors?
Just like dishes, clothes and cars, shower doors are thankless things to clean. Not only are they tough to get spotless, they usually get dirty again quickly.
With shower doors, the film of grime that dulls the glass is usually a mix of hard water and soap scum. Unfortunately, this build-up can do permanent damage, etching into the surface of the door to form clouding. No amount of washing will clear that.
The safest thing is to stop the scum forming. There are a range of home remedies for this, such as applying a small amount of car wax or furniture oil to protect the surface. Another good prevention strategy is to invest in a shower squeegee. These only cost a couple of pounds and the thirty seconds spent sluicing the water off after a shower, will keep your door cloud-free for longer.
But, for those who don’t have the patience or the dedication for regular maintenance, here are our tips for cleaning glass shower doors:
● Smear a paste of baking soda and water across particularly stubborn patches. This will weaken the scum build up, and a gentle rub with a damp sponge should be enough to get it all clean.
● Spritz white vinegar to stop streaks: it really is a miracle glass cleaner!
● Change your bathing habits: the worst culprit for scum build-up is bar soap because it usually contains talc. Next time you’re shopping for shower supplies check the ingredients on any bars you buy and pick one that is talc-free.
How do you clean leaded glass windows?
When it comes to leaded glass, don’t risk a generic commercial cleaner. Shop-bought solutions often include ammonia which can have a damaging chemical reaction with the lead ‘cames’. ‘Cames’ are the metal strips which run through the window, holding it together. To prolong their life, the best thing to use is simply warm water and a ph-neutral soap or washing up liquid.
Make sure you’re gentle with your cleaning, as leaded windows are often fragile and expensive to repair. While cleaning, you can also check the state of the cames as well. If any white powder has formed on the surface of the lead, this means it’s oxidised and will need replacing.
It’s easy to underestimate the impact a dirty window can have on the appearance of a house or room. Not only does a sparkly clean pane of glass have its own visual pleasure, it’s surprising how much extra light can be let in. Hopefully, this guide will have lessened the innate dread of window cleaning, and help you have crystal clear glass every day.