Window cleaning is one of those tasks that the majority of people try to avoid at all costs. With all of the spraying, wiping and reaching involved only to end up with streaks that seems impossible to get rid of, it’s no surprise that many people end up hiring a window cleaner to take care of the job for them.
However, getting crystal clear and streak-free windows doesn’t have to be a challenge, it can be a guarantee and all by following a few simple steps. Regardless of whether you are cleaning large bay windows or small bathroom windows, it’s not so much about the elbow grease but the tools that you have on hand.
What Causes Streaks on Windows?
When it comes to the dirt and grime on your windows, there are many different factors that come into play. On the external side of the window, one of the most difficult things to remove is limescale deposits. While many people believe that these white marks on the window are a direct result of rain, the truth is that the majority of them are caused by sprinkler systems and groundwater.
With that said, it is important to note that while rainwater tends to be pure, as it makes its way to the ground, it picks up contaminants and pollutants, such as dust, sand, grit, exhaust fumes and pollen. These contaminated raindrops then hit the window and evaporate, leaving micro deposits behind that create a less than desirable finish to the surface.
When looking at the internal surfaces of the windows, the majority of dirt comes from oily fingerprints, dead skin cells, dust, fungal spores, air freshener and condensation residue. This means that the surface dirt can be drastically different on each side of the window and may require different approaches to remove it.
Luckily, there are a few universal ways to get a streak-free window quickly and easily. The best part is that many of the tools required for simple window cleaning will most likely already be in your home. The only other thing that you are going to need is a little bit of elbow grease.
Kicking off Your Window Cleaning
If you want to do your windows justice, then you should always begin by giving them a thorough cleanse using warm water and mild detergent. Proper window cleaning detergent is a fantastic way to remove oil from the surface of your windows, which would normally end up streaking when you go to dry them. Water quality should also be taken into account when cleaning your windows.
If you live in an area of hard water you may end up noticing more streaks than before. Hard water contains high mineral content, including fluoride and calcium. If you do happen to live in a hard water area, it is a good idea to use distilled water that you have warmed in the microwave before use. Distilled water is purified and doesn’t contain many of the common minerals typically found in tap water.
Steps for streak-free windows
- Begin by rinsing the windows with clean water from a hosepipe. This will remove the majority of the dirt and prevents small bits of grit and sand particles from scratching the windows as you clean them by hand.
- Next, take a soft sponge and dip it into the window cleaning detergent solution and work it in a gentle circular motion on the glass. Rinse the sponge or cloth in clean water every few wipes to remove abrasive dirt.
- Work from the centre of the window to the outer edges to gently push any dirt or residue to the sides. This makes washing away the surface dirt easier when you rinse.
If your windows have frames, make sure that you give these a good wipe down to prevent any dirt being washed onto the windows next time it rains. Avoid using scouring pads to tackle difficult to remove deposits as these can scratch your windows. Simply apply warm water to these deposits and allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping them away.
Keep windows streak free
While it may be tempting to use vinegar to get gleaming windows and glass surfaces, it could actually cause damage to the window surface. Selecting cleaning products design for use on glass will ensure that no damage occurs during the cleaning process. Check products to make sure they are free from phosphoric acid and hydrofluoric acid as these are known corrosives to glass.
For perfectly clear windows, you can add a few drops of methylated spirits to a clean, dry and lint-free cloth and give the windows a wipe down. The methylated spirits will evaporate within a few seconds leaving crystal clear and shiny windows behind. Both vinegar and lemon juice are acids. They may be natural, but they are also quite harsh. When used on treated glass, they can eat away at UV filters and the window finish. Again, look for products that are free from harsh acids, regardless of whether they are natural or not.
How to dry for a streak-free finish
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to use paper towels to dry off their windows after cleaning them. This is also true when it comes to dishcloths and towels. Paper towels and dishcloths not only leave streaks on the glass, but also other debris such as lint and paper fragments.
One of the most tried and trusted materials for cleaning windows for a streak-free finish is good old-fashioned newspaper. Newspaper works so well because its densely packed fibres can absorb large amounts of residue without depositing surface contaminants.
Using newspapers for streak-free windows is as easy as scrunching the paper a few times to soften it and then wiping down the windows in a circular motion just before they begin to dry naturally. This will result in windows with a cleaner, clearer and more aesthetically pleasing finish.
If you do not have any newspaper on hand, then you can make use of a microfiber cloth. Microfibre cloths are fantastic for preventing the build up of static, which can end up drawing dirt to the window surfaces like metal to a magnet. Again, check the cloth between wipes to make sure no grit is present to avoid scratching the glass.
Window Cleaning Using Steam
If you have a handheld steamer at home, this can make quick work of even the dirtiest of windows. However, it is important to note that there is a drawback to steam cleaners and that is the fact that they rely on water as the main cleaning agent. As touched on above, if you live in an area with hard water, then you may actually make the windows worse than they were before.
Steam cleaners are a fantastic way of removing even the most stubborn dirt deposits and are able to get into the smallest of corners. If you want to guarantee yourself of 100% streak free windows when using a steam cleaner, then wiping the windows down with a few drops of methylated spirits afterwards will help with this.
Streak-Free Window Cleaning
Cleaning your windows does not have to be an unpleasant task. When it is made easier, it can actually become quite therapeutic. There is nothing more satisfying than looking at your windows and admiring your work, especially when they were particularly streaky and dirty before.
As a final tip for streak-free window cleaning, avoid cleaning windows when it is hot and sunny outside. If you try to clean windows when its like that you will find yourself in a never ending battle against streaks. The sun will dry the windows almost instantly, leaving cleaning products stuck to the surface. If possible clean windows on a cloudy day or first thing in the morning.
Cleaning aluminium and timber screens
With the windows looking their super best, you’ll may notice that the window frames and screen could also do with some sprucing up. Check out our maintenance guide to learn the right way to clean and care for your Wideline windows and screens.
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