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task master

How do I get my windows sparklingly clean without leaving streaks behind?

Windows not scrubbing up well? Laura de Barra has the answers.

AS THE DAYS get longer and brighter, you’re probably starting to look at your windows in a new light (literally). Now’s a great time to start thinking about cleaning that film of dirt or those marks off the windows, but where to start?

First, we need to think about the process from start to finish. What you’re trying to achieve is a clean surface with no streaks. To do this you’ll be removing anything you don’t want from your windows and then washing them down with a liquid. The quicker this liquid dries the less chance of streaks there are.

When to clean

Lets think about the conditions here. I would always do any window cleaning on a dry, sunny morning, never in too much heat. This will give anything you use a far better chance of drying quickly which is key in a streak free finish. 

How to prep windows for cleaning

To begin you want to hoover or wipe away any loose dirt or dust gathered at the edges. Window seals attract dust so make sure you give these a wipe down, you don’t want the dust getting wet and making a paste that you then end up smearing over the panes in the cleaning process. If you use a hoover, make sure you use the brush setting or use a non-scratch cloth. You don’t want to damage the window or the seals.

Microfibre cloths are best for window cleaning as the split fibres create a great charge that helps you get that dry, buffed finished. I would never use tissue as this can leave bits behind that will wreck your head for the rest of the clean.

Two cleaning methods, and what you’ll need to hand for each

A note: I have yet to meet a window cleaning product that works as well as  washing up liquid or vinegar – so I’ve included a method for each of these below. Sticking to these household products will save you money, but feel free to swap in your product of choice for the vinegar in method one should you wish to do so.

Method 1: Vinegar and water

You’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfibre cloths

No surprise, but vinegar is the wonder product here. When I say she’s an all-rounder, I mean it. Besides being a non-toxic cleaner, she is cheap and as affective as most cleaning products you’ll buy. Vinegar is an ingredient in almost every window cleaner currently on shelves, but by herself she works better than any of them.

I like to use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water here. Spray on, wipe off with a microfibre cloth, and pay attention to the seals and sides

Then right away, buff with another dry microfibre cloth. This should leave you with a streak-free glistening window.

Method 2: Squeegee and washing up liquid

You’ll need…

  • A squeegee with microfibre cloth attachment. Careful here: if squeegees are not used correctly, you’ll end up with a lot of streaks. When used inside the house, the liquid squeegeed off must go somewhere which can be difficult to manage. 
  • Washing up liquid
  • Bucket, a clean mop bucket or basin shall do
  • Microfibre cloth 

Squeegeeing can be a nightmare if you don’t know how, but fun once you do. Make sure you have even, firm pressure throughout.

Mix up a bucket of warm water with a few squirts of washing up liquid (any more than this and the liquid will sit on the surface of your window and attract even more dirt after it dries).

Dip the microfibre attachment in this mix (if you don’t have one, a non-scratch sponge or cloth will do fine) and wipe the widow from top to bottom. Give it a good scrub to make sure all dirt is loosened and you get the seals.

Wipe down the squeegee to make sure there’s nothing on it that can scratch or affect cleaning. Beginning at the top left, swipe right across in one even motion.

You’ll work your way down the window like this, from left to right, top to bottom. A tip here: Before you move on to the next section, wipe the excess liquid from top of the squeegee and keep it at a slight angle. This will help you avoid water spilling over the top and creating a streak on the area you have done previously.

Window cleaners use a different style, which you can attempt if you’re feeling confident. Remember, it’s all in the wrist. Begin as above but this time, but when it comes to the squeegee part, you will be angling it in a way that you never need to lift it from the surface. Think of it as drawing a snake down the glass. It may take a few goes to work out how to apply even pressure and get right to all edges but once you get the hang of it, it’s really enjoyable!

When you get to the end, grab your microfibre cloth and run it over the seals and edges to make sure you’re streak free.

More: How to get your chrome and steel surfaces sparkling (and keep them that way)>

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