Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Getting your windows really clean

Image: freedigitalphotos
Why are my windows so dirty?

Because homes nowadays are so well-sealed, much of the dust, pollen, and general dirt, which would once have escaped to the outside, now remain indoors. It's a good idea to check the filters on equipment such as central heating boilers, air conditioners, and tumble-dryers, to reduce as far as possible the amount of dirt circulating in the indoor atmosphere.

Cleaning materials

Black-and-white newspaper is a traditional and highly effective window-cleaning material. Household rags are another cheap alternative to cloths and sponges. There are plenty of inexpensive cleaners which can be used as an alternative to pricy branded products. Tried and trusted examples include liquid detergent, bleach, ammonia, surgical spirit, vinegar, and laundry detergent.

Getting glass shiny

Avoid washing windows on a very warm day, or in direct sunlight, as it is hard to avoid streaks and water spots forming as the cleaning solution dries. Both vinegar and alcohol are good at getting rid of grease, which is why most branded cleaners use one or the other. A mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water is effective when used with a squeegee. The final polish needs to be done without leaving streaks or lint traces, and newspaper, used with neat vinegar, is a good way of doing this.

Very dirty windows

A scraper may be necessary for the worst marks, such as bird droppings. For spots of paint, a razor blade is probably best. A brush and strong detergent solution, followed by a squeegee, can be used for getting rid of layers of grime, after which it's best to change to a clean cloth for the next stage.

Window frames

Clean window frames before you start on the glass if they have become very dirty. Brush off loose deposits first, and then wipe down with a soap and water solution.

Window sills

Soap and water are also effective on window sills, but it may be necessary to finish with a stronger solvent if there are still marks visible. Dirt tends to accumulate in the corners of window sills, and an old toothbrush and cotton buds can be useful for removing it. It will be easier to clean the window sill in future if you apply a thin layer of floor wax.


Condensation is a common problem on window frames, and it tends to lead to mouldy patches. Mould can be cleaned off with a mixture of bleach, water, and detergent, and a bleach mixture left to dry should prevent mould in future.

Take care!

Don't add to the window-cleaning accident statistics. Use steps and ladders only if they are safely positioned, and never climb on furniture to reach the windows. Handle strong chemicals, such as ammonia, with great care, and use rubber gloves. Don't mix chemicals; ammonia and bleach, in particular, combine to produce a dangerous gas. Read the instructions on branded products.