window with black shutters

Window Cleaning 101: A (Simple) Guide to Streak-Free Shine

Shutter Man

Pollen season is in full swing and you know what that means: It's time to clean your windows. In addition to that seasonal coat of yellow, it’s impossible to avoid all the other common smudge culprits (we’re looking at you, toddler fingerprints and puppy noses!).

Cleaner windows result in a brighter home, and a brighter home makes for a happier spring. Kick your spring cleaning mode into gear and tackle your windows with these tips:

Step 1: Get the right tools for the job.

Before you get going, you’ll want to gather all the materials needed. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Bucket of warm water
  • Regular dish soap
  • White vinegar with spray bottle or ammonia-based window cleaner (like Windex)
  • Dry towel or paper towels
  • Extendable mop (such as a Swiffer)
  • Squeegee  
  • Grunge clothes in case you get dirty!

Step 2: Start indoors.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but your interior windows will likely be much more clean than your outdoors windows. By starting inside, you’ll be done more quickly and you’ll be able to see more clearly what streaks remain outside. 

For your interior windows, drop a few drops of dish soap into a large bucket of warm water and mix well. You don’t want too many suds — a too-sudsy solution is more likely to leave residue and the oh-so-dreaded streaks.

Before you go in with the soap solution, give the windows and frames a cursory wipe with paper towels to get as much excess dirt and grime off as possible. 

Next, dunk a clean rag or hand towel into the bucket and wring it out about halfway (just so that the towel is not sopping wet and won’t make as big of a mess). Start scrubbing! 

Pro tip: Place a big beach towel under your current work zone to reduce the water that reaches your floors!

After your initial rub-down, which may require more than one pass over the same section, go back in with your clean towel or squeegee. (A squeegee is optimal for less streakage, but if your panes are small and you aren’t able to find a squeegee that will fit, clean paper towels or lint-free cloth will do the trick.) Use long, singular swipes with the squeegee, and be sure to wipe water off the tool with a paper towel in between each stroke. 

Pro tip: If you’re hearing a ton of squeaks as you squeegee, you may not have enough soap in your water mix.

Best case scenario: You’ll be one and done. If you still see stubborn streaks and smudges hanging on, you may need to go back in and restart the process once more. 

After the rinse and dry process is complete, grab your bottle of white vinegar or Windex and start spraying. Use the same long, strong swipe as before to wipe the solution off the windows and avoid streaks (versus random circular wiping).

And that’s it! At this point, your windows should be shining. 

Step 3: Head outside.

Exterior windows notoriously take a beating — and that’s their job! They face pollen, wind, rain, branches, dead bugs (ew!) and plenty of other debris, so it’s not surprising that gunk tends to build up.

Luckily, the window-cleaning process is pretty much the same outdoors as it is indoors: Wipe excess, rinse with soapy water, dry, clean with vinegar, wipe dry. 

The major difference is that you may need to use an extendable mop in order to reach your higher windows. Plus, you’ll probably plow through more towels and cloths because of the sheer filth that accumulates outside.

Pro tip: Always start at the topmost window and work your way down.

The other difference is that you should try to minimize time between rinsing and drying your window — the longer the water sits on the window in the open air and sun, the more likely it will result in streaks. 

Overall, be patient, don’t be afraid to rinse twice, and accept the fact that you will get wet! It’s worth it though — crystal-clear windows will make your home feel ages newer. 

Clean windows aren’t the only thing that make or break a sharp-looking house. Shutters can be the difference between night and day when it comes to curb appeal! Thinking it’s time for a spring refresh for your shutters? Shop our entire range now.