"I Don't Do Windows!"

Check out the 4 top tips for fresh fenestration in this month's edition of What's Out the Window with guest columnist Laurie March

“I don’t do windows.” 

That famous phrase originated in a 60's ad campaign, and the saying stuck for decades in reference to thankless jobs nobody wants to do. 

Well, guess what? When you hear my awesome ideas for cleaning windows (and the easiest homemade window cleaner recipe ever), you’re going to WANT to do your windows. You heard it here first!

We’ve all been there. You gear up to to clean the windows – you think, this will be No Big Deal, right? Just grab some glass cleaner and a paper towel, take a few swipes, and voila! perfect, streak-free, fenestration... right?

Newsflash – it never seems to happen that easily. Inevitably, what you end up with is streaky, smudged glass right at your eye level that you notice whenever you walk by. Which would, of course, TOTALLY ruin that feeling of satisfaction (not to mention the view.) 

So, what’s the best way to handle the window gig? Let’s break it down.

First, let’s talk tools. 

Paper towels seem like the obvious choice, but they are a big NOPE for me. Aside from the fact that Americans use more than 13 BILLION pounds of paper towels each year, paper towels really don’t do the job well when it comes to cleaning glass. They leave behind tons of lint particles and, sometimes, can actually create small scratches.

Okay, you say. What about the squeegee—the pros use one, right? Well, why do the pros use one? Maybe because they’re pros?? True, they do a pretty good job on larger window surfaces, but realistically you need to dust off all the windows first, then lay down towels (because where does that water go besides down?) and then just try to get rid of the edge marks! Seems like a lot of work.

Then there’s the newspaper. Do you still get the paper? It’s recyclable, so I suppose that’s a plus, but visualize if you will… your newspaper laying on the driveway in the rain. Now imagine cleaning a bunch of windows with that soggy, wet paper. I know people who swear by it, but sorry, not for me. Not a huge fan of the ink on my fingers… and, again, don’t get me started on cleaning up soggy paper bits.

Which leads me to – drumroll please – the microfiber cloth! This is my personal window cleaning pick. Honestly, it’s pretty much my choice for most things house-related. Look for one that’s what I like to call 70-30 – that’s 70% polyester and 30% polyamide (synthetic fiber). And, if you can, spend the money on a good one. If you take care of it, it can last a really long time. Hot Tip: never wash a microfiber cloth with fabric softener!  It reduces absorption.

Don’t want to shell out the dough for microfiber cloths? An old t-shirt that doesn’t shed will make a decent substitute, too.

So that’s the WHAT, as in What shall I use… how about the WHEN, as in When shall I use it?

Did you know that there are perfect cleaning conditions for your windows, environmentally speaking? Cloudy days are your friend. If it’s too sunny, the heat can make the glass dry too quickly and cause smears. So clean early in the day. Also, there’s a reason why they call it Spring Cleaning – because, spring is a good time of year to do a full cleaning job–the worst of the weather is over, and you’ll be ready to let the sunshine in! Summer isn’t so bad either–you can get rid of all that spring pollen that clings to the glass. But make sure you do it before the sun is too high in the sky…or beware, streaks.

Now about those streaks…They bring us to the HOW, as in how shall I clean for the best, perfectionist-approved look? Up-down, side to side, or circles? First, ditch the circles–all that does is move the dust around and bring it back to where you started. Top to bottom, my friends. It’s the only way to go. Then gravity is boss, and any spray residue is already starting to do the job for you…I love when that happens! 

Now to the best part… my secret recipe! It’s way easier than you think… Ready?

💧 1 cup rubbing alcohol (isopropyl)
💧 1 cup water
💧 1 tablespoon white vinegar
💧 Combine ingredients in a NEW spray bottle. (If you think you got everything out of that one that had fabric spray in it, just wait until you have sticky windows. Plus, mixing chemicals is bad, people. Don’t do that.)

If you have wood interior window frames, put a towel down to catch any drips. The great thing about vinegar is that it’s non-toxic and anti-bacterial. So, it will kill germs and clean your windows at the same time. Bonus! And, the added rubbing alcohol is the perfect combo. It evaporates quickly and grabs hold of any stubborn spots.

There you have it—the easy, painless, and eco-friendly way to get a streak-free shine and crystal clear view. And now? Now when someone asks… you DO do windows!

~Laurie March


P.S. Want to see more from Laurie March? Visit Get Inspired With Laurie for tips, tricks, videos, and more!

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