Put away the ladder. Here’s your insider’s guide to the easiest way to wash winter away
1. Dirty sills and frames
2. Dusty, grimy screens
3. Spotty, smeared glass
Give dirt the brush-off. We know — going at the glass with the cleaner is the most satisfying part. But before you squeeze that trigger, pull back the blinds or curtains, open the window, and inspect its sill, frame, and tracks for obvious crud and cobwebs. Sweep out debris using the small-handled brush that comes with your dustpan. (Skip this step, and you risk a mess later, since the loose dirt can stick to your wiping towel and smear the glass.) Also handy: a cloth-wrapped screwdriver for flicking out dead bugs or hard-to-reach gunk.
1. De-grime the screens. If you leave yours in year-round, give them a once-over now — otherwise, all that dried-on dirt may blow into your house the first time you open the windows for ventilation. The good news: You don’t need to take down the screens and hose them off. Just run your vacuum with its dusting-brush attachment over the side that faces in. (Side to side, top to bottom is the speediest method.)
2. Make the glass gleam. For windows that tilt in, washing both sides is a cinch. Spray your cleaner on the inside of the glass until it’s heavily misted but not drippy. Then, with a clean lint-free cloth, wipe horizontally until dry. Tilt the window the other way; repeat on the outer panes, but this time wipe vertically (cleaning in opposite directions makes streaks obvious and easier to zap). For double-hung windows that don’t fold in, slide the bottom pane up about eight inches — so you can reach out and up. Clean what you can; then slide down the top panel to get it from above. Windows crank out or don’t open at all? Clean the insides, then rinse the outsides with a hose.
Make It Easier Next Time
- Pick a cloudy day. Direct sun makes the cleaner dry too quickly, leaving streaks behind.
- Choose your weapons wisely. GHRI tested a variety of products (six store-bought window cleaners, one homemade solution, three premoistened wipes, and four wiping tools: paper towel, newspaper, microfiber cloth, and squeegee).