Somebody once quipped that “Politics is like cleaning windows – the dirt is always on the other side.” No matter what your political opinions are, you have probably had this experience while getting glass surfaces clean.
Windows are one cleaning job that is commonly reported as a pet hate by many cleaners (glass shower compartments, ovens and toilets are the other common ones, according to one cleaning product consultant that this writer spoke to). They have many disadvantages – you can’t ignore them, they’re bit and they have to be not merely dirt free but streak free as well. Small wonder, then, that the professional window cleaner has become something of a necessity along the same line as a plumber or electrician.
But not everyone has access to or can afford the services of a pro window cleaner. Or else you may not like the idea of having some stranger peering in at your bedroom and bathroom, possibly while you’re in there. In this case, you will have to do it yourself. You have several options available. But for all methods, the following golden rules apply: 1. Work from top to bottom. 2. Do one side at a time.
Option A: Microfibre cloth, towel and blade. This is the easiest option, as well as being chemical free. You will, however, need a microfibre cloth suitable for glass and a wipe-down blade. It’s simple – dampen the microfibre cloth and rub the windows down. Then use the blade to remove excess moisture and dry the little corner at the side after blading down.
Option B: Proprietary cleaner, paper towels/rags. Simple, but can prove costly if you have a lot of windows to clean. Personally, this writer finds the fumes from commercial glass cleaner to be rather noxious, so I prefer not to use this method. Spray a small amount of cleaner on, then rub with the cloth. The product is designed to dry streak-free.
Option C: Homemade cleanser and old newspaper. Effective, chemical-free and streak-free but may require elbow grease. The best cleaners for this are white vinegar (the cheapest option) or vodka. Apply your chosen cleaner – a spray bottle is good. Then crumple the newspaper to rub off the dirt. Apply more and keep rubbing for stubborn places.
Option D: Dishwashing liquid, brush and blade. Leaves streaks but is quick and cheap. Good if you have to clean a very large area of glass in a very short time (e.g. a conservatory). Add dishwashing liquid to a bucket of warm water. Apply with a soft-bristled brush (the kind used for cleaning cars), scrub in a circular motion. Remove excess water with the blade. You will need to change the water fairly frequently. This is the sort of method professional window cleaners in London would normally use to clean car windscreens.
Option E: Mop. Not recommended, but may be the only safe option for out-of-the-way windows (e.g. very high skylights beyond arm’s reach even on the top rung of a ladder). Use dishwashing liquid and warm water in a bucket for large areas, or vinegar neat on the sponge part of the mop if you’ve only got a small area to clean. Make sure that the mop is only damp, not dripping wet. Special window cleaning attachments for garden hoses can be purchased and used – these pump water through a sponge head, but they are best kept for muddy 4x4s and glasshouses, as they are not very efficient.