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How do you clean badly streaked windows?

Cleaning badly streaked windows can be a daunting task, but with the right techniques and tools, you can achieve streak-free, sparkling results. This article will guide you through the steps to prepare your windows, select the best cleaning solutions, and apply effective cleaning techniques. We’ll also cover common mistakes to avoid and tips for maintaining your windows to keep them looking their best.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a dry dust-free microfiber cloth to remove streaks with elbow grease before applying any cleaning solution.
  • Choose the right cleaning tools, such as lint-free paper towels, microfiber cloths, and squeegees, for the best results.
  • Wipe windows in horizontal and vertical motions to avoid noticeable streaks.
  • Use cleaning solutions sparingly to prevent a greasy film from forming on the window.
  • Regularly clean and properly store your cleaning tools to maintain streak-free windows.

Preparing Your Windows for Cleaning

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Dusting and Removing Loose Dirt

Start by removing dust from the window frame, tracks, and sill with a vacuum, duster, or cloth. This will remove large debris. If you have curtains, this is a good time to remove and wash them, following the care instructions. First, go over the window and seal with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Tools

Depending on whether your windows get frequent TLC or only see cleaning products during your annual spring cleaning shenanigans, you may need to go over the pane a few times before you’re looking at the best window it can be. Here’s what you’ll need for cleaning windows in order to get a professional finish:

  • Large dry brush or broom handle for removing cobwebs and dust
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Squeegee
  • Purpose-made window cleaning solutions or vinegar
  • Brown paper or newspaper
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Dry lint-free cloth or drying pad

Protecting Window Frames

Finish by wiping off excess water or suds from the edges and windowsill using an absorbent cloth. Repeat the process on the inside of your windows. This step ensures that no water damage occurs to the window frames, keeping them in good condition for longer.

Taking your time and enjoying the meditative motions of the squeegee blade can make the task more pleasant and effective.

Selecting the Best Cleaning Solution

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Using Dish Soap and Water

A simple yet effective cleaning solution is a mixture of dish soap and water. Dish soap cuts through grease and grime, making it an excellent choice for initial cleaning. Mix a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of warm water and use a soft cloth or sponge to apply it to the windows. Rinse thoroughly to avoid any soap residue that could cause streaks.

Trying Vinegar Solutions

For those who prefer homemade cleaning solutions, adding two tablespoons of white vinegar to a small bucket of warm water is a fantastic natural option. White vinegar is known for its ability to clean without leaving behind harmful fumes or residues. This solution is particularly effective for removing water spots and mineral deposits.

Commercial Glass Cleaners

If you opt for store-bought solutions, there are many commercial glass cleaners available, such as Windex. These products are designed to be streak-free and are convenient for quick cleaning. However, avoid cleaners that contain ammonia or alcohol, as they can leave streaks or films that attract dust. Eco-friendly and vinegar-based commercial cleaners are excellent alternatives.

Effective Cleaning Techniques

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Wiping in Horizontal and Vertical Motions

When cleaning windows, it all comes down to the right technique. Start by wiping in horizontal motions on one side of the window and vertical motions on the other. This method helps to identify which side of the window has streaks, making it easier to achieve a streak-free finish.

Using a Strip Applicator

You can also go the professional route and use a woolly strip applicator to put your cleaning agent on the windows. This tool helps create a good lather that cleans water spots, dirt, grime, and any other messes on your window. Remember to scrub thoroughly to remove stubborn spots and stains.

Buffing with a Dry Cloth

Even if you do exactly the right things, like mixing vinegar with distilled water and wiping with newspaper, it’s possible to end up with a frustrating streak or three. In that case, the simplest solution is to finish the job with a quick buff using a dry cloth. This final step ensures that any remaining moisture is removed, leaving your windows sparkling clean.

Cleaning glass is more about the tools than the elbow grease.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

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Avoiding Excess Detergent

Using too much detergent can leave a residue that causes streaks. Skimping on window cleaner can also be problematic. You need plenty of cleaner to dissolve and suspend the dirt so it can be completely wiped away. Aim for a balanced approach to avoid these issues.

Ditching Paper Towels

Paper towels can leave lint and fibers on your windows, making them look dirty even after cleaning. Instead, use a microfiber cloth, which is more effective at keeping your windows streak-free. This small change can make a big difference in your cleaning results.

Cleaning One Pane at a Time

Cleaning all your windows in one day can be overwhelming and less effective. Divide the job up and do it room by room. This method not only makes the task more manageable but also ensures a more thorough cleaning. If any streaks do form, you’ll easily know whether they’re on the outside or the inside.

For best results, clean your windows on a cloudy day to avoid the cleaner drying too quickly and leaving streaks.

Maintaining Streak-Free Windows

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Regular Cleaning Schedule

To ensure your windows remain streak-free, establish a regular cleaning schedule. Consistent maintenance prevents the buildup of dirt and grime, which can cause streaks. Aim to clean your windows at least once a month, but adjust based on your local environment and weather conditions.

Proper Storage of Cleaning Tools

Storing your cleaning tools properly is crucial for maintaining their effectiveness. Ensure that squeegees, microfiber cloths, and other tools are kept clean and dry. This prevents the transfer of dirt and moisture, which can lead to streaks on your windows.

Seasonal Deep Cleaning

In addition to regular cleaning, perform a seasonal deep cleaning to tackle any stubborn dirt and grime that may have accumulated. This involves a more thorough cleaning process, including the use of specialized cleaners if necessary. Seasonal deep cleaning ensures that your windows remain crystal clear throughout the year.

Consistent maintenance and proper storage of cleaning tools are key to achieving streak-free windows. Regular and deep cleaning routines help in preventing the buildup of dirt and grime, ensuring your windows stay spotless.

Dealing with Stubborn Marks

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Using Specialized Cleaners

When regular cleaning solutions fail, try something a bit stronger. A mild acid like vinegar or a mild solvent such as methylated spirit can be effective. Be cautious not to spill these on other surfaces.

Scrubbing Techniques

For those persistent water spots and mineral stains, use #000 super fine steel wool. This can help rub out the remaining stains and make your windows sparkle.

Preventing Future Streaks

To keep stubborn marks at bay, use a diluted vinegar solution for weekly cleaning. This helps to keep deposits from building up. Additionally, move sprinklers away from windows to prevent hard water stain splatters.

Regular maintenance and the right techniques can make a significant difference in keeping your windows streak-free.

Dealing with stubborn marks on your windows can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Our professional window cleaning services in Edinburgh ensure that every pane is spotless, no matter how tough the grime. Don’t let those marks ruin your view any longer. Visit our website to learn more and get a free estimate today!


Cleaning badly streaked windows can be a daunting task, but with the right techniques and tools, it becomes manageable. Start with a dry, dust-free microfiber cloth to remove initial streaks. If that doesn’t work, a cleaning solution like Dawn dish soap or white vinegar can be effective. Remember to use horizontal and vertical motions rather than circles to avoid new streaks. For stubborn marks, a woolly strip applicator or a squeegee can make a significant difference. By following these steps and tips, you can achieve streak-free, sparkling windows that enhance the appearance of your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to clean windows without streaking?

To avoid noticeable streaks, wipe in horizontal and vertical motions, not circles. If any streaks remain, use a cloth dampened with water to wipe them away.

How often should you clean your windows?

It’s recommended to clean your windows at least twice a year. However, if you live in an area with a lot of dust or pollen, you might need to clean them more frequently.

Can I use dish soap to clean my windows?

Yes, a solution of dish soap and water can be effective for cleaning windows. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the solution and avoid streaks.

Why should I avoid using paper towels to clean windows?

Paper towels can leave lint and fibers on the glass, which can cause streaks. It’s better to use a microfiber cloth or a lint-free paper towel.

What should I do if my windows have stubborn marks?

For stubborn marks, use specialized cleaners or a woolly strip applicator to scrub the spots. You can also use a dry microfiber cloth to buff out any remaining streaks.

Is vinegar a good solution for cleaning windows?

Yes, a mixture of vinegar and water is a popular and effective solution for cleaning windows. It helps to dissolve grime and leaves a streak-free finish.