Easy Cleaning Tips to Get Your Home Warm-Weather Ready

Cleaning doesn't have to be a chore...check out some of our favorite tips, tricks, and helpful hints for ditching the drudgery.

It's June, and the weather is warming up (even here in Minnesota) and we're all excited to get our homes ready for summer! And that means…it’s TIME TO GET OUR CLEAN ON! 

Okay, we understand that maybe that’s a little bit more enthusiasm than you might think the subject requires. But we’ll admit, we get a little excited about it. All that potentially useful space rediscovered, all those shiny surfaces waiting to be uncovered, all those outdoor spaces just itching to be tidied up and put to use… ahhhhhh. So very satisfying! Obviously we can’t keep all that fun to ourselves, though. That’s why we’ve gathered some of our all-time favorite step cleaning tips just for you, all in one place. 

From the best-ever window cleaning solutions from HGTV and DIY network personality Laurie March (and if you think WE are excited about cleaning…wait ‘til you hear from her!), to our five fast cleaning hacks (because clean doesn’t need to be complex), it’s all here. So get ready to get so fresh and so clean—and maybe have a little fun in the process, too!

Fresh fenestration

"I don't do windows!" DIY/HGTV personality, designer, and producer Laurie March shares her wit and wisdom on window cleaning.

“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 this chore is frequently on Spring Cleaning lists – 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! 

easy window cleanerNow 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!

5 Fast cleaning hacks

Sometimes it CAN be a sprint, not a marathon.

Ah, the advent of warm weather...birds, trees, flowers...cleaning. But cleaning doesn’t have to mean major projects. Sometimes you just want a chore you can tackle in an afternoon—or even quicker. If you are looking for some quick cleaning wins, check out one of atHome's most popular infographics to date: 5 easy ways to get your gleam on!

But wait! There's more (cleaning tips)...

(Isn't there always?) Check out these parting thoughts if you've really been bitten by the cleaning bug (no, not a mosquito).

Okay, we’ve done our windows. We’ve tackled some of those little projects to boost our cleaning confidence. What’s next? After all, we're in the zone, we're feeling motivated, so what are some additional around the house projects to tackle before we are ready to bust out our summer BBQs?

Go gutter-guilt free

Okay…if there is a cleaning project equivalent to the dreaded “go on a diet” New Year’s resolution, it may be “clean gutters.” But hear us out…there’s method to the madness.

Your gutters help keep your home dry and safe. By directing water away from the house, gutters reduce the chance of hefty water damage to your basement, siding, roof, wall, foundation, and more. Those are some big bucks you’re putting on the line if clearing a little debris away doesn’t get done. So resolve to keep those trusty trenches tree-debris free and clean them at least twice a year. Want to learn more? Check out these tips for gutter maintenance

Donate what you don’t use

"Kondo Method" or not...on the list of popular cleaning projects, “decluttering” is right up there. If you’re thanking your belongings and sending them on, consider donating your gently used items to a local charity. You free up space, and the organization provides for those in need or is able to re-sell items and earn much-needed cash. 

Not sure where to take it? Here are a few places looking for donations:

Goodwill: Clothing, electronics, appliances, and furniture 
Habitat ReStore: small and large donations of new or gently used furniture, appliances, housewares, and building materials 
Salvation Army: clothing, furniture, and household goods  

How to decide if you should keep it or send it on to a new home? A good rule of thumb—if you haven’t used it in the past year, you’re not going to miss it (although, again...we get it...how many of us have only used leggings, sweatshirts, and lounge pants for the last 12 months? Maybe keep some of that "office wear", just in case). 

fall checklist for home improvement

Deck/Patio Cleanup

Raise a hand if you've ever been surprised by an abrupt and snowy end to autumn? Or perhaps SWORE there was going to be "just one more" outdoor meal or evening on the deck playing cards 

BUT when it comes to your deck or patio area, a few quick chores now will go a long way making amends from fall's forgotten foliage transgressions. before winter hits. Or, heck, we're not judging...maybe you just left the patio furniture outside or didn't clean up the leaves in the corners of the porch for no other reason than it seemed like the thing to do. (And when I say we're not judging...we are not. Lest the Finger of Judgement point right back at us...)

After testing in an inconspicuous spot, pressure wash your siding, patio pavers, deck floor and posts, and sidewalk to blast away stubborn dirt, leaves, cobwebs, or muck. If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent one at most home improvement stores. You’ll be surprised at the difference a little power from the pressure washer makes (and how fun it is to use!). 

When it comes to your furniture, plastic, vinyl, and simulated wood/wicker are easily maintained with some soapy water and a garden hose (and in many cases, that same pressure washer). However, metal and natural materials like wood, wicker, and rattan will have more specific maintenance requirements. Bobvila.com has some great tips on how to care for your outdoor furnishings here

Bonus Tips: Spring Cleaning For Your Soul

We promised fun, remember? It's not all work and no play--it never should be!

Did you read all of this and feel like we're still missing something in our cleanup efforts? Maybe we are... it's not all about our house or our yard. Self-care is important. Home cleaning doesn’t have to mean decluttering the garage or dusting off your windows’ insect screens (but here are some tips on how to do that!)…why not take this season of starting fresh and make some time for yourself? 

Two women laughingLaughing and smiling are good for the soul…and research suggests laughter may actually be on par to eating well and engaging in daily activity in terms of efficacy on keeping you healthy and preventing disease. And good strong relationships also benefit health and happiness, and can help reduce stress.

So put down the feather duster and the dish rag. Step away from the "But I should"s and the "I need to"s.

Watch a favorite movie. Have Alexa or Siri tell you a joke. Call a friend to chat. Have a virtual Happy Hour through one of the group chat apps (some even let you play games with each other while you chat). Try a kitchen karoke with your family--take turns picking a song and singing (and dancing) along. 

Just like we need to get the dirty dishes out of the sink or mow the lawn, it is okay--necessary, even--to have moments of joy. To restore our minds and souls. Make a date for fun. Take some time to connect with your friends and family. Spend some time with people, activities, characters, and hobbies that make you laugh.

So again, we say: be kind to yourself. Let go of what you're not doing or what you think you should be doing. Take a minute to read that extra chapter or color that extra page. Eat cereal for dinner. Go outside and howl at the moon. Stomp in the rainy day puddles.


Happy Cleaning--whatever that means to you--from your friends at Renewal by Andersen!

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