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You should always try to wash your windows twice a year, but it's a job that most people don't like to do and tend to put off. One of the things that makes window washing a job that most don't want to do is that most people insist on doing it with wadded-up paper towels or newspaper, spray cleaner, and a ton of elbow grease.
All that rubbing and scrubbing isn't a good idea. You're just moving dirt around from one spot to another and putting a static charge on the glass, which attracts dust and dirt. As soon as you finish, the window will look dirty again. It's easier and more effective to clean glass like the professionals do: with a squeegee and a few other tools. The techniques aren't complicated and the results may surprise you.
Washing your windows is one of the best ways to transform your living space. You don't know what you're missing until you have really clean windows. Here are two 3-step methods to cleaning windows like a professional; one for picture windows and another for multipane windows. Got stubborn spots? Step 7 will help you with those.
Picture windows call for large tools. The long cloth head of a strip applicator soaks up a lot of soapy water and knocks dirt loose without scratching the glass. For a cleaning solution, some use just a squirt of dishwashing liquid in a bucket of warm water—the less suds, the better.
Starting at the top left, pull the squeegee over the soapy pane in a reverse-S pattern (left-handers would start at the top right). At the end of each stroke, wipe the squeegee's blade clean with a lint-free rag. Cloth diapers or old linen napkins are perfect for this task.
Remove any water remaining on the edges of the glass with a damp, wrung-dry chamois, which soaks up wetness without leaving streaks. Dry the windowsill with a rag.
To clean a divided-light window, you need a squeegee that fits the panes. You can use a hacksaw to cut one to size. You can trim the metal channel a quarter inch narrower than the window pane, then file the cut edges smooth. With a utility knife, cut the rubber blade to the pane's full width and fits it into the channel so that it projects an eighth of an inch at each end.
A handheld sponge or hog-bristle brush works best on multipane windows. Using the same solution of a squirt of liquid soap in water, rub each pane from left to right, top to bottom, working the sponge edges or brush bristles into the corners to loosen dirt.
Pull the squeegee down each pane in a single stroke from top to bottom. After each stroke, clean the blade with a rag so it doesn't leave streaks. As above, remove any streaks on the glass with a chamois, and dry the muntins and sill with a rag.
Over time, hard-water runoff from masonry or rain falling through metal window screens leaves stubborn mineral stains on glass that normal washing can't erase. So after a regular cleaning, you can take it a step further by wetting the glass and gently cleaning it either with fine 000 steel wool or with the cleansing powders Zud or Barkeeper's Friend, which contain oxalic acid. (Other brands of powder may scratch the glass or fail to remove stains.) Mix the powder into a paste on a wet towel, rub away the stains, then rinse and squeegee the glass twice to remove the residue. Even with that treatment, the staining generally comes back in about six months.
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