Sunday, September 05, 2010

Washing Windows

Washing windows is hardly my favorite chore.  Even though I only do it twice a year at most -- it just seems to be a job fraught with poor results.  So, this year I decided that since it was time to wash the windows again that I would do it right.... (notice how my clean window sparkles!)
I did learn a few things that helped make the job more efficient and more rewarding.

First, there are two things that you absolutely must have before you set out to do windows.
1. Window Washing Weather - cool, overcast or intermittently cloudy.  Don't wash the windows in the sun.  The sun will dry the window too soon and you will have streaks.  Don't waste your time washing windows in the sun, you will have to redo them later.
2. A Determined Attitude - This is the time when you have to be fussy, picky and hypercritical of your work.  You can't be in a hurry.

Next, gather your arsenal:
  • A soft broom
  • Clean lint free towels or blank newsprint paper
  • an old toothbrush
  • a squeegee
  • a bucket with clean warm water
  • a bucket with warm cleaning solution
Cleaning Solution - many different kinds are sold in the grocery stores, etc. Some people use a combination of water, vinegar and ammonia.  I prefer something even easier - I mix a bucket of warm water - on the "hot side" with 2 squirts of dishsoap (Dawn) and 1 squirt of JetDry.  The JetDry is the stuff you put in your dishwasher so that the water doesn't leave marks on your glasses.  I think the key to whatever mixture you use is the WARM WATER.  This helps dissolve any debris and makes a slurry of the soap and JetDry, making it more effective that using cold water.

Now to begin.
Make sure all your supplies are clean. 
 Sweep away any cobwebs or debris around your window.  A soft broom is crucial for this task, so it doesn't scratch the glass.
Use the toothbrush to clear any debris in the corners or tracks that the broom can't get to.  Some people use cotton swabs (Qtips).

Now, soak one rag with the cleaning solution.  Working with only 1 window at a time, gently scrub the window (making circles with the rag).  The window will be wet, but not 'sudsy' like when you think of a bubble bath.  It should be all wet.  Really notice if there is any debris or places that require a second gently scrubbing.  If there are, then rewet the rag and gently scrub that area again, rewet any parts of the window that may need it.
Since we live in the country, we get a LOT of birds who attempt to fly through our windows.  I am forever removing feathers and other yucky things from the windows.  Some areas like these require a little more elbow grease.

Then dip your squeegee in the clean water and dry it on a clean rag.  Squeegee the entire window.
I use vertical strokes, cleaning and drying the squeegee between each stroke.

  • Some people suggest using all vertical strokes on the outside and all horizontal strokes on the inside - this way if there are streaks, you know which side of the glass the streaks are located.)
  • Other people suggest making the first stroke at the top of the window, horizontal and then the remaining strokes vertical so that there is a dry area to start the squeegee procedure.
There are better squeegees available at the hardware store.  I broke this one today (it was 15 years old) and when I went to replace it, I found one like they have at the gas station with a sponge on one side of the squeegee.  I know that you can purchase wide squeegees to make cleaning large windows easier.

So, cleaning windows doesn't require repeated washings if the water temperature is warm, if you dust the window before washing it and if you squeegee it to remove water and prevent streaks.

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