Nothing makes your home look cleaner and brighter than sparkling windows. But if you’re like us and constantly battling streaks when washing your windows, what seems like a quick spray-and-wipe task can quickly turn into a dreaded chore. So we asked experts how to clean windows without streaks and they shared their surprisingly simple secrets. Keep scrolling to find out more.
Why streaks form on windows
It’s important to look at several factors, including your cleaning solution and, surprisingly, the weather. “Window streaks are mainly caused by evaporation,” explains Ericka Nagal of Clearly Clean Window Washing. “If the water in the cleaning solution dries up too quickly, it’ll leave the rest of the solution behind causing streaks.”
That’s why it’s best to avoid cleaning windows while the sun is beaming down on them or on extremely dry, cold winter days, both of which scenarios encourage water to evaporate quickly. The best weather for cleaning windows? Cool, cloudy days.
“You also want to avoid spraying your solution across a large area,” Nagal adds. “If you’re cleaning, say, a glass sliding door, work in 3-foot by 3-foot sections, so you have time to wipe the solution off completely before it dries.” Keep reading for ideal cleaning tools and solutions.
1. How to clean windows without streaks: Choose the right solution
Put down that blue liquid, advises Stefan Bucur, founder of RhythmOfTheHome.com. “It doesn’t clean windows all that well, and you can easily make a more effective version at home using products you already own.” A few simple cleaners you likely already have on hand:
If you have alcohol…
Certain alcohols resist streaking because the main component, ethanol, evaporates more quickly than water, so that even if the solution dries fast, no residue will be left behind. Stick to alcohols that don’t have any sugars added — rubbing alcohol and clear hand sanitizer work well. “Just pour the former into a spray bottle and spritz your windows, then wipe them until they’re dry,” says Sara San Angelo, owner of ConfessionsOfACleaningLady.com. “And if you’re using hand sanitizer, squirt a bit of it onto a microfiber cloth and rub it on for a streak-free shine.”
Related: How to Clean a Mirror Without Windex
If you have white vinegar…
While vinegar evaporates more slowly than alcohol, it’s still faster than water and its acidic nature is especially effective at removing built-up grime on your windows. In a spray bottle, just combine ½ cup white vinegar and ½ tsp dish soap, Bucur suggests. Spritz lightly over the glass surface, then wipe it down quickly. “It’s best to use a clear, unscented dish soap in this recipe, as dyed or perfumed versions are more likely to leave behind residue.”
If you have lemon juice…
A squeeze of citrus works in much the same way as vinegar and can be combined with dish soap in the same ratio to make a spray. “I like it because unlike white vinegar, it has an extra-fresh scent,” says Mallory Micetich, home cleaning expert at Angi.com. “The only downside is buying the pre-squeezed variety is a bit pricier than vinegar.”
If you have tea bags…
Struggling with stubborn fingerprints — or noseprints from furry family members? Just grab teabags, advises Helen Capon, cleaning expert at The Vacuum Experts: “The tannins in black tea are great at breaking down grease and grime on almost any hard surface, and won’t leave streaks,” she assures. Simply rub a damp, used black tea bag over the smudged spot; leave for about one minute, then wipe dry using whichever method you choose below. You can also use the tea solution itself. (Click through to learn how to remove fingerprints from anything.)
For a quick-how, check out this video from Smart Fox :
2. How to clean windows without streaks: Grab the best cleaning tools
When it comes to a streak-free shine, the material you use to dry the window is equally as important as the cleaning solution itself. Skip material that’s likely to leave lint or fibers behind, like paper towels, t-shirts and cotton towels. Instead, try one of these:
If you have microfiber cloths…
The fibers in microfiber material have more surface area and are positively charge, meaning they attract and hold onto dirt and dust better than other substances. “They’re also more tightly knit, so they won’t leave behind lint like regular cotton towels,” says Alex Cortez of Denton Maids.
One thing to keep in mind with microfiber cloths: if you frequently throw them in your washing machine alongside regular towels or clothes, they will eventually become covered in the same tiny fibers as those materials and leave streaks on your windows. It’s best to clean them in their own load, stick to a dime-size amount of laundry detergent and make sure to skip fabric softener, which can coat the fibers and leave residue behind when you clean with them.
If you have newspaper…
“I learned to use newspaper to clean glass from my first job at a carwash about 30 years ago,” adds Bill Begal, who today has cleaned some serious messes as owner of a disaster restoration business Begal Enterprises, Inc. “It never streaks, it’s recyclable and I still stand by it as a great glass-cleaning method.” While there’s a bit of debate about whether the ink can transfer to glass, studies have proven that isn’t the case for modern-day newspaper. If you decide to time travel and use copies from the 1970s, however, you might have an issue.
If you have coffee filters…
Another option for streak-free cleaning can be found right in your coffee cabinet. “Coffee filters have a mildly abrasive surface, so they will lift grime on a window in one swipe without scratching the glass, and they won’t leave any lint behind, either,” suggests Karina Toner of Spekless Cleaning. “They’re also highly absorbent, so they’ll soak up the cleaner you use long before it has the chance to evaporate.”
If you have a squeegee…
Last, but definitely not least, is the noble squeegee, which is definitely the top pick for window pros like Nagal. “Simply put, no matter which solution you choose to clean your windows, a good squeegee is going to give them a totally streak-free shine.”
To master this method, check out videos like:
The gist is fairly straightforward: apply your cleaning solution to a small area, then run the squeegee from top to bottom in straight lines, wiping the squeegee dry between each swipe. Two to try: Unger 10-inch Glass and Tile Squeegee (Buy at Home Depot, $10.97) or SetSail Shower Squeegee for Glass Doors (Buy on Amazon, $7.99)
For more cleaning tips, click through the links below!
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