Cleaning windows is one of the most often procrastinated chores around the house. While the exterior of windows should be cleaned twice a year, the idea of all that time and elbow grease leaves many with a neglected window. As it turns out, the old, labor-intensive methods are not the most effective. Washing your windows like a professional will leave you with far better results and less work.
The first step is to ditch the newspapers and paper towels. These will smear dirt and grit over the glass and create static on the window surface that attracts even more grime. Be sure to get rid of your chemical glass cleaner as well. Many of these cleaners leave a thin film behind that dirt will cling to. In place of your chemical cleaner, use a bucket of warm water with just a squirt of dish washing liquid in it (you do not want a froth of suds.) Dish liquid and water will wash away grit without grinding it against the glass and with no residue.
For large picture windows, a strip applicator is best for scrubbing. It has great reach, and the fabric soaks up the cleaning solution well. For multi-pane windows, natural sponge or hog-bristle brush will be optimal. Natural sponges are more absorbent and firmer than synthetic sponges, making them better for scrubbing. You may also find using a squeegee helpful as well.
First, scrub your windows with the dish liquid solution first. Work from the top to bottom, left to right. The suds washing down will help loosen the dirt nearer the bottom. Be sure to work into corners to loosen dirt.
Next, squeegee the soap solution off of your windows. For picture windows, work in a reverse-S pattern, starting at the top left for right-handers and the top right for left-handers. Wipe the squeegee clean with a lint-free rag after each stroke to prevent drips.
Divided windows will need a squeegee sized for the panes. Many companies sell squeegees with interchangeable blade sizes, but you can easily make your own. Trim the metal channel down to about 1/4 inch narrower than the panes, filing the edges smooth when you are done. Cut the rubber blade to the window's full width for a 1/8 inch overhang on either side of the metal channel.
Clean each pane of your window with a single top-to-bottom stroke, beginning with the upper row of panes and working your way down. Just as before, clean your squeegee between strokes.
For both picture and paned windows, clean any lingering soapy water from the glass with your chamois to soak up the liquid without streaking. Dry the windowsill, and in the case of paned windows, the bottoms of the panes, with a rag.
Regularly cleaning your windows can dramatically improve your home, letting in more light and giving your home a pristine feel. It may not be fun, but your home will thank you!