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How do you clean windows that are always streaky?

Cleaning windows can be a daunting task, especially when streaks seem to appear no matter what you do. Streaky windows not only look unsightly but can also be frustrating to deal with. This article will guide you through understanding the causes of streaks, choosing the right tools, effective cleaning techniques, DIY cleaning solutions, common mistakes to avoid, and tips for maintaining clean windows.

Key Takeaways

  • Always use horizontal and vertical motions to avoid streaks, never clean in circles.
  • Use distilled water instead of tap water to prevent mineral deposits from causing streaks.
  • A squeegee is the best tool for drying windows to avoid spreading moisture and leaving streaks.
  • Homemade cleaning solutions, such as those made with dish soap or vinegar, can be as effective as commercial products.
  • Regular maintenance, such as dusting and immediate spot cleaning, helps in keeping windows streak-free.

Understanding the Causes of Streaks

person cleaning streaky window

Windows with streaks are a common problem, often caused by inefficient cleaning, poor technique, or simply being sloppy. Understanding the root causes can help you prevent them in the future.

Minerals in Water

Using tap water for cleaning can leave behind mineral deposits that cause streaks. These minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, can create a dull, dingy appearance on your windows.

Improper Drying Techniques

One of the most common mistakes is not drying the windows properly. If you let the cleaning solution dry on the glass, it can leave behind streaks and marks. Using a dry, dust-free microfiber cloth can help eliminate this issue.

Residual Cleaning Solution

Using too much cleaning solution can cause a soapy residue to build up on your windows, causing streaks. A one-to-one ratio of vinegar and water is often recommended to avoid this problem.

Choosing the Right Tools for Streak-Free Windows

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To achieve streak-free windows, selecting the right tools is essential. The technique and tools you use are more important than the cleaner when you want your windows spotless and perfect. Here are some of the best tools to consider:

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are excellent for cleaning windows because they are highly absorbent and leave no lint behind. They are perfect for the initial wipe-down and for drying the windows after cleaning.


A squeegee is crucial for achieving streak-free windows. It helps remove the cleaning solution and water from the glass efficiently, leaving a clear, streak-free surface. Make sure to use a squeegee with a rubber blade for the best results.

Distilled Water

Using distilled water instead of tap water can make a significant difference. Tap water often contains minerals that can leave streaks on the glass. Distilled water, being free of these minerals, ensures a cleaner finish.

Effective Cleaning Techniques

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Horizontal and Vertical Motions

When cleaning windows, it’s crucial to use horizontal and vertical motions rather than circular ones. This method ensures that you cover the entire surface without leaving streaks. Start from the top and work your way down to prevent drips from running over areas you’ve already cleaned.

Using a Squeegee

A squeegee is an essential tool for achieving streak-free windows. After applying your cleaning solution, use the squeegee to wipe away the liquid in a smooth, continuous motion. Make sure to wipe the squeegee blade with a clean cloth after each pass to avoid transferring dirt back onto the window.

Avoiding Circular Motions

Avoid using circular motions when cleaning your windows. Circular motions can cause streaks and leave behind a greasy film. Instead, stick to horizontal and vertical strokes for the best results.

Remember, the right technique is key to achieving spotless, streak-free windows. Using the same method as inside, apply glass cleaner or distilled vinegar and wipe with a squeegee or clean cloth. Use the top-to-bottom technique for a streak-free finish.

DIY Cleaning Solutions for Streak-Free Windows

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Dish Soap Solution

Mix your cleaning solution. You can use any cleaning solution you prefer, even for streak-free windows. The technique and tools you use are more important than the cleaner when you want your windows spotless and perfect. Use a clean bucket and mix together your desired window-cleaning solution, which could be:

  • Equal parts white vinegar and water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of liquid dishwashing liquid per gallon (3.8 L) of water

Vinegar Solution

Homemade glass cleaners can cut through grime and dry streak-free without the use of harmful chemicals. Vinegar is one of the top household products for this purpose. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the window and wipe it off with a microfiber cloth or squeegee.

Commercial Products vs. Homemade Solutions

There are many cleaning products out there you can use to clean windows, including commercial products and homemade solutions. The keys to streak-free window cleaning, however, are the technique and tools that you use. While commercial products are convenient, homemade solutions like vinegar and dish soap are cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

To clean windows without leaving streaks behind, always use distilled water to wash them since non-distilled water has minerals that can cause streaks. Also, never let the cleaning solution you’re using dry on the windows or else it will leave streaks and marks. Instead, use a squeegee to wipe the liquid off the windows.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

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Using Tap Water

One of the most common mistakes is using tap water to clean windows. Tap water often contains minerals that can leave streaks and spots on the glass. Always opt for distilled water to ensure a streak-free finish.

Letting Cleaning Solution Dry

Allowing the cleaning solution to dry on the window can result in unsightly streaks. To avoid this, clean small sections at a time and wipe them down immediately.

Drying with a Cloth

Drying windows with a cloth can often lead to lint and streaks. Instead, use a squeegee for a cleaner, streak-free result.

Avoiding these common mistakes can make a significant difference in achieving perfectly clean, streak-free windows.

How Often Should You Clean Your Windows?

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Cleaning your windows regularly is essential to maintain their clarity and functionality. Most professionals recommend a full residential window cleaning twice per year, but this can vary based on several factors.

Seasonal Cleaning

Windows tend to accumulate more dirt and grime during certain seasons. For instance, spring and fall are ideal times for a thorough cleaning due to the increased pollen and debris. Aim to clean your windows at least once every season to keep them looking their best.

High-Traffic Areas

Windows in high-traffic areas, such as kitchens and living rooms, may require more frequent cleaning. These areas are more prone to smudges and dirt due to daily activities. Consider cleaning these windows biweekly to maintain a clear view.

Weather Considerations

Weather conditions can significantly impact how often you need to clean your windows. If you live in an area with frequent rain or dust storms, you may need to clean your windows more regularly. On the other hand, if your region experiences mild weather, a monthly cleaning schedule might suffice.

Regular maintenance and timely cleaning can prevent the build-up of dirt and streaks, ensuring your windows remain spotless and clear.

Tips for Maintaining Clean Windows

pendant lamp in front of window

Regular Dusting

Regular dusting is essential to keep your windows looking pristine. Dust can accumulate quickly, and if not removed, it can lead to a buildup of grime that is harder to clean later. Make it a habit to dust your windows at least once a week to prevent this buildup.

Immediate Spot Cleaning

Addressing spots and smudges as soon as they appear can save you a lot of effort in the long run. Use a mild cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth to wipe away any marks immediately. This practice ensures that your windows remain spotless and reduces the need for more intensive cleaning sessions.

Proper Storage of Cleaning Tools

Storing your cleaning tools properly can extend their lifespan and maintain their effectiveness. Ensure that your microfiber cloths, squeegees, and other tools are clean and dry before storing them. This prevents the growth of mold and mildew, which can transfer to your windows during cleaning.

After wiping loose debris from the glass, “apply a cleaning solution, such as mild soapy water, diluted vinegar or a liquid window cleaner, and wipe in a vertical or horizontal motion.”

Keeping your windows spotless can be a daunting task, but with our professional window cleaning services, it doesn’t have to be! Our team at Edinburgh Window Cleaners is dedicated to providing top-notch residential and commercial window cleaning throughout Edinburgh. Visit our website to get a free estimate and see how we can make your windows shine like never before!


Achieving streak-free windows is a task that requires the right techniques, tools, and a bit of patience. By using distilled water, avoiding circular motions, and employing a squeegee for drying, you can significantly reduce the chances of streaks. Remember to use a dry, dust-free microfiber cloth for initial cleaning and to replace dirty cleaning solutions promptly. With these tips and a little elbow grease, you can enjoy crystal-clear windows that enhance the beauty 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 is recommended to clean your windows seasonally, though high-traffic areas may require more frequent cleaning.

Why should I use distilled water for cleaning windows?

Distilled water is free from minerals that can cause streaks. Using non-distilled water may leave mineral deposits on the glass, resulting in streaks.

What are some DIY cleaning solutions for streak-free windows?

Common DIY solutions include a mixture of dish soap and water or a vinegar solution. These homemade solutions can be as effective as commercial products.

Why should I avoid drying windows with a cloth?

Drying with a cloth can spread moisture around and leave streaks. It is better to use a squeegee to remove the cleaning solution from the windows.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when cleaning windows?

Common mistakes include using tap water, letting the cleaning solution dry on the window, and drying with a cloth. These can all result in streaks.