How to Clean Windows, Inside & Out

When windows are extra dirty, they make better doors. Keep sightlines clear and your home looking sparkling clean by washing your windows at least twice per year. Keep reading to learn how make your windows look like they were cleaned by professionals.

How to Clean Windows Outside

Step 1. Clean Windowsills and Frames

On the exterior, clean the windowsill and frame first with a dampened small, soft-bristle brush to remove dust and dirt. Then clean using a bucket of mild detergent and water, and a sponge or cloth before you begin cleaning the glass. Remember to get into crevices and corners. Then spray away the soap, grime and debris with water from a garden hose.

High windows may require that you use a ladder to reach them.

Safety Alert

Observe basic ladder safety procedures to avoid serious injury from a fall. Invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer that attaches to the ladder and braces onto the roof.

Step 2. Wash Window Screens and Panes

Remove any window screens before cleaning the panes. Over time, these exterior barriers collect dust and grime. Hose them down with water from a garden hose and wipe them clean with a rag or cloth. Heavily soiled screens can be scrubbed with a lightly soaped sponge or cloth and then rinsed. Set them out to dry.

Spray each windowpane with water from a garden hose and then clean it using a professional-strength window glass cleaner and a large strip applicator or window washer/squeegee. You can also use a small amount of dishwashing detergent, a bucket and some water. Dip your cleaning tool into your bucket or apply the cleaner to the pane and then start at the top, working your way down, to decrease drips.

Helpful Tip

To avoid streaks, clean windows on a cloudy day or when the sun is not directly shining on them.

For multi-pane windows (for which a squeegee may be too large), you can use a sponge to clean each pane from left to right and then top to bottom.

Bird droppings or other stubborn particles can be removed from glass by saturating them with your cleaner and then scrubbing them away with a soft sponge. Don’t use abrasives that may scratch the glass. However, you can use a razor blade to scrape off anything that won’t come off with soap, water and scrubbing, such as dried paint or sticker residue.

Stains from mineral deposits, such as calcium, lime or rust can be removed using a commercial cleaner such as CLR®. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying.

Rinse the windows to remove debris from cleaning.

Step 3. Squeegee Window Panes

Finish cleaning panes by using a squeegee or the rubber blade of the squeegee side of a window washer, to remove water and any cleaning solution from the glass. Make your first stroke across the top of the pane in a reverse-S pattern. Wipe the blade clean with a cloth after each pass with the squeegee. Use a cloth in corners and edges to dry up any excess water.

Helpful Tip

If you don’t have a squeegee, you can wipe windows with a lint-free or microfiber cloth, or chamois to remove water or cleaning solution from windows and finish the job.

You can dry multi-pane windows with an appropriately sized squeegee or a chamois or lint-free cloth. Replace any screens you removed.

How to Clean Windows Inside

Step 1. Protect Woodwork

Some glass and window cleaners could possibly damage the finish of wood frame areas, such as the windowsill or trim. Play it safe by protecting the finish and keeping drips off of the wood. Don’t overspray window cleaners on the glass. Spray windows in small sections at a time, from the top down, and immediately wipe off the fluid with a lint-free cloth or rag.

Helpful Tip

Spray window cleaner directly on your cloth or rag and then wipe the glass, if you’re concerned that you cannot avoid spraying the wood.

Loosely roll up a rag or cloth lengthwise and place it on the sill to catch drips or overspray onto the sill.

Step 2. Clean the Sill and Frame

Clean interior windowsills and frames with a cloth to remove dust and debris. Then clean with mild detergent and water. Use a bucket of water and detergent with a sponge or cloth on the frame and sill to get into crevices and corners. Use a clean cloth to dry.

Remember also to clean away any dust and debris on your blinds or shades with a duster and/or a damp cloth.

Helpful Tip

Spray blinds with anti-static spray, after you clean them, to reduce dust-attracting static electricity.

Step 3. Clean Window Panes

Clean the interior side of windowpanes with a commercial window cleaner, or dish detergent and water, and a squeegee or cloth. Spray the window with cleaner (being careful not to overspray) or dip your cloth or squeegee into a bucket of detergent and water. Wipe the glass from the top down, to avoid streaks and drips. Use a clean cloth to dry any remaining moisture on the glass.

Helpful Tip

An old T-shirt is a good tool for washing windows since they are unlikely to leave lint residue on the glass.

Cotton swabs can be used to clean corners and other crevices between the glass and the window frame.

That’s it! Your newly washed windows should be clean and clear.