How to clean windows – inside and out, with no streaks whatsoever (2023)

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Learning how to clean windows is all about that covetable streak-free finish. We all want windows that are so clean that they're completely transparent. If despite putting in your best efforts, you're still seeing grime or streaks, it may be time to turn to expert advice and investigate lesser-known window-cleaning hacks alongside traditional methods (hello, vinegar).

We'll be honest and say that even the best window cleaning products won't do the job if you're using the wrong tools or haven't yet mastered the proper technique for getting your windows clean. Don't worry, though: learning is easy and you soon will notice a difference while needing to put in less effort (yes, that really is possible).

Armed with our top tips and all the necessary paraphernalia, your windows will rival those cleaned by a professional.

How often should you clean your windows?

We spoke to the Thames Valley Window Company (opens in new tab) about the best way to clean your windows inside and out, and how often we should be doing it.

Ryan Schofield, Managing Director says, 'In order to maintain the aesthetics and practicality of your windows it’s important to clean the frames once or twice a year, although you may need to do this a little more if you live near the sea where salt exposure is high, or if you live in a busy city and are close to major roads or industrial sites.'

'Water marks, dust and dirt will soon build up if you don’t regularly clean window glass. We suggest using warm, soapy water, but don’t use too much washing up liquid, as too many bubbles will leave residue marks on your windows. Use a clean lint-free microfibre cloth and change the water regularly so you’re not smearing on dirt! Use a soft, clean cloth to remove any drips. Finish by using a glass cleaner, or one part distilled vinegar with one part warm water if you’d like to make your own solution. Spray this directly onto the glass and use a soft paper towel to rub it off.'

How to clean windows – inside and out, with no streaks whatsoever (1)

(Image credit: Thames Valley Window Company)

The best way to clean windows

There are a few different routes to go down when cleaning windows, depending on how dirty yours are, how big they are, how much time you have and whether you prefer to use natural cleaning agents like vinegar or not. This is the best course of action:

1. Pick the right day for streak-free clean windows

Is it a sunny day? If it is, hold off washing windows until a cloudy day – it might be easier to see smears on a sunny day, but the sun drying the windows too quickly is usually the cause of any streaks in the first place.

2. Remove dust from dirty windows

Have you brushed, swept or vacuumed the window? Your success rate will be far higher on windows that are free of dust, so vacuum the sash, frames and sills first. Plus, doing so will ensure there's no muddy, soupy mess on the floor afterwards. Thomas recommends ''To clean window frames, start by opening your windows wide. Using a soft paintbrush, loosen any cobwebs, dirt and grime around the edges and hard to reach areas, then use a hoover with a soft nozzle brush to hoover around the frames.'

The tools you use depends on the buildup of dirt and your preference too. For every day wiping down, you may not even need any product whereas neglected windows will need more elbow grease for sparkling results.

Quickly cleaning windows

If your windows are given a regular wipe over and aren't hideously dirty, you can simply use a damp microfibre cloth (opens in new tab) to wet them, and a dry cloth (or a series of dry ones) to dry them off and achieve a streak-free finish.

Ryan advises to 'Mix up some mild detergent with warm water and use a soft cloth to clean away any dirt. Make sure you don’t use anything with harsh chemicals as they may damage the frame finish. Wipe the window with fresh water to rise off any suds before wiping dry.'

The upside to using microfibre cloths is that they can be simply popped in the washing machine, ready for use next time, making them a fairly eco-friendly way of cleaning windows. Plus, you can use a squeegee before you dry off the windows with your microfibre cloth to cut down on the cloths you use and get the job done even faster.

Deep cleaning windows

If microfibre cloths aren't coping with the dirt on your window – maybe it's not stubborn, but it's definitely copious – you might need to take a solution of washing up liquid and warm water to it.

Start by wiping the soapy water on with an abrasive sponge, then rinse the windows with clean water; use a squeegee to get any further soapy deposits off; then use the microfibre cloths for a streak-free finish.

What not to do: Make the water too bubbly – soapy suds will be left as filmy streaks on your windows and you'll wish you'd never started.

If you're set on using a chemical cleaner to wash windows, we'd recommend a product that professional window cleaners use (and that we've tried out): HG Window Cleaner (opens in new tab).

It does not contain ammonia or methylated spirits and complies with all professional requirements, as it is pH-neutral and does not damage paint, varnish or plastic. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.

To squeegee or not to squeegee?

We absolutely swear by squeegees (opens in new tab) at Real Homes . There's one by the shower to clean the glass shower screen, and one under the sink to wash windows. We simply use the sponge mentioned in tip 2 then take a squeegee to the soapy suds to leave a streak-free shine. Finish it off with a clean, dry, e-cloth and you're done.

What not to do: Clean the outside of an upstairs window from a ladder – leave that to the pros.

4. How to clean windows with vinegar

Vinegar is probably what your grandparents used to wash their windows – and it's still seen as a really effective way to remove stubborn dirt. Better still, it's non-toxic and anti-bacterial. To make your own vinegar (opens in new tab)-based window cleaning solution, simply add two tablespoons of it to a small bucket of warm water. Then follow the steps for using soapy water (but be sure to wear rubber gloves).

If dirt is really, really ground on, put the vinegar solution in a spray bottle and apply to the panes, then leave for a few minutes before tackling with your sponge.

What not to do: Use a vinegar solution on any windows that have matt-painted or undercoated-only frames – you might find the frames stain.

5. Clean big windows with a Kärcher

If your house has a large glazed extension or if you're lucky enough to have lots of large windows all around the house PLUS your home is somewhere that's prone to dirt build-up on windows, a window vac like Kärcher can help you get the window cleaning job done quickly – and with good results.

Choose a cordless model with decent battery life, and bear in mind that these cleaning appliances do tend to do the job best with a cleaning fluid, so if you're looking for a natural solution that doesn't involve chemicals, you may like to keep reading.

What not to do: Invest in one of these for small window panes; these appliances are best suited to expanses of glass. If you're not sure if you need one, reading our Kärcher Window Vac review should help make up your mind.

More ways to clean windows naturally, or not

Clean windows with lemon

This is a simple alternative to window cleaners that both cleans and has a mild abrasive action. Simply cut a lemon in half, taking care to remove all pips, and rub the lemon half all over your window, finishing with a lint-free cloth. This method will work best on smaller windows as it's quite labour- (and lemon-) intensive.

Clean windows with rubbing alcohol

Don't have or don't want to use vinegar or lemon? Reach for your first-aid kit: rubbing alcohol is great at cleaning windows and disinfecting them, cutting through even stubborn dirt. The trick is to always mix it with distilled water rather than just your regular tap water. Distilled water doesn't have any mineral content that could show up on your windows as streaks once the alcohol has evaporated. Use a couple of tablespoons per 500ml of water.

How to clean windows without streaks

Still struggling to find out how to clean windows without streaks? You may have to rethink what you're using to clean your windows rather than the cleaning solutions you're using. Alicia Johnson, the owner of West Covina-based Cleaning Green LLC (opens in new tab), told us that for 'ensuring it's absolutely spotless and no streaks are left behind, the tool you are using carries more importance than the cleaning solution.'

It doesn't so much matter if you're using good old vinegar or a fancy window cleaning spray –if you're using 'an ordinary cloth that isn't even designed for cleaning windows', you likely will find that it 'leaves messy streaks and marks behind.'

So, 'if you want your windows to be appropriately cleaned, we highly recommend you invest in a professional cleaning tool. Nowadays, you can get your hands on a window vacuum that cleans your window spotless and leaves ZERO streaks behind. There are even magnetic window cleaners available in the market! Both are clamped against the window in between; as you move one across the window to clean, the one on the other side follows, and you can clean both sides simultaneously.'

That's definitely food for thought. A robot window vacuum cleaner from Amazon (opens in new tab) will cost you around $150 –not cheap, but it will do a perfect, streak-free job without you needing to lift a finger.

How to clean windows from the outside

If you like buying specialist window-cleaning sprays, save these for cleaning windows from the inside. If you want to know how to clean a window from outside, Ray Brosnan of Brosnan Property Solutions (opens in new tab), advises no wasting time on 'fancy chemicals or detergents. Less is most definitely more here. Washing up liquid/detergent and warm water is more than enough to get the job done.'

Again, 'the real trick here is equipping yourself with the right tools to ensure you get a good result. Plastic T-bars (opens in new tab) are essential for getting your windows wet firstly, these are quite cheap and can be purchased in most online stores, they’re also quite durable when used correctly.'

Next, 'you’ll need a good-quality squeegee to get the water back off the window. Finally, the secret weapon, the “scrim (opens in new tab)” – this is the cloth used to wipe the edge of the windows. It leaves a smudge-free finish every time and is quite cheap.' These are readily available online also. Scrim is made from linen; you can use synthetic alternatives, so long as they're labeled suitable for window cleaning.

When It comes to the technique, Brosnan recommends 'the S-Shape method' – 'and be sure to cover the entire pane/section of glass. Be sure to not take the blade of your squeegee when cleaning the glass or you’ll be left with water marks.'

More window cleaning tips

  • Avoid direct sun: Remember that you shouldn’t clean windows when the sun is shining directly on them, as the heat can cause the water to dry into spots or streaks.
  • Remove window dressings: This isn't a must, but if you're doing an annual, thorough window clean, it makes sense, especially if your window dressings are a) in the way and b) likely to be dirtied easily by drips and splashes. Plus, you can use this as a good opportunity to have curtains and blinds cleaned or freshened.
  • Frames first: Make sure the frames and sills are clean before you start.
  • Newspaper on streaks: Did your grandparents buff the windows with newspaper? It does work if you haven’t got a microfibre cloth handy.
  • Avoid flimsy kitchen roll: Some can disintegrate when they get wet and they will leave lint deposits on the window panes.
  • Air the room: Especially if you've been using vinegar as it's not the smell you want hanging around.

Best window-cleaning cloths

The Marigold Crystal Clear Window Cloth (opens in new tab) is a machine washable microfibre cloth that you wet and use to wipe the surface.

We wanted to know the quickest and most efficient way to clean mirrors, shower screens and windows, so we tested various cleaners to see how easy they were to use, how well they cleaned, and how easy they are to keep clean themselves.

How to clean windows – inside and out, with no streaks whatsoever (2) (opens in new tab)

Marigold Crystal Clear Window Cloth (opens in new tab)
This 'next generation' microfibre cloth gives streak-free results when you're cleaning glass. We love it!

View Deal (opens in new tab)

When you're in a hurry (and when are we not?), you don't want to be faffing around with loads of bottles, so we tested with plain old water. The Marigold Crystal Clear Window Cloth is designed to be used with either water or a spray-on detergent for more thorough window cleaning. In our test, it was the easiest to use – it's just a single cloth that you dip in water and then use to wipe away marks.

How effective is it at cleaning? If you want to quickly whizz around the inside of your windows, a window vac is undoubtedly speedy, but if you're on a low budget, don't have the storage space for one, or are tackling smaller surfaces, such as mirrors, the Marigold cloth gets your surfaces sparkling with minimal effort – simply wet and wipe.

Is it easy to keep it clean? Yup, the Marigold cloths can simply be popped in a 60ºC wash, which makes them simple to keep clean. Job done.

You can see clearly now! 🏡


How to clean windows – inside and out, with no streaks whatsoever? ›

Make sure to use a commercial glass cleaner or try a combination of distilled water and white vinegar. Once you have the product ready, use a microfiber cloth, t-shirt, or newspaper instead of paper towels. Spray the product on your cloth instead of on the mirror in order to avoid drips that you'll need to wipe up.

How do you clean indoor windows without streaks? ›

A microfiber cloth is ideal but a gentle and clean paper towel can work as well. Rub from multiple directions to help avoid streaking. If you find that you still have streaks after you've cleaned your window, simply rinse with clear water to help remove any of the remaining cleaning solution.

How do you clean glass without streaks? ›

How to clean your glass and mirrors without streaks in five easy steps:
  1. Use a cleaning product without soaps, scents, or dyes.
  2. Spot clean difficult stains first.
  3. Use a thin microfiber cloth instead of newspaper or old rags.
  4. Wipe top-to-bottom and side-to-side.
  5. Repeat as needed.
Mar 16, 2021

Why do my windows always have streaks after cleaning? ›

This has to do with the evaporation rate—if your cleaning solution evaporates before you have time to wipe it off, it will leave a mark. Alcohol- and ammonia-based cleaners evaporate more quickly than vinegar, but any window cleaner can leave streaks if it isn't removed fast enough.

What is the best solution for cleaning interior windows? ›

The best homemade window cleaning solution is to just mix two gallons of water and about a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid together in your bucket. Some people also opt to use vinegar and water to clean windows. In warm weather, you'll get a little more working time by using cool water.

What is the best trick for cleaning windows? ›

Combine two parts water with one part white vinegar in a spray bottle and you'll be all set with a homemade window cleaner. You can also combine warm water with a few drops of dishwashing soap if you prefer. Invest in a glass spray bottle to mix up your formula.

What causes haze on inside windows? ›

What's Happening & Why? Vehicle interiors create the ideal atmosphere for building up film on the inside of windows. Cigarette smoke, condensation, and dust blend in a closed, hot interior to form a “cloud” that eventually coats the windows. The hotter the weather, the quicker the film builds up.

Can you use Windex to clean windows without streaks? ›

It's easy to give glass an unbeatable streak-free shine* with Windex® Original Glass Cleaner.

Do microfiber towels leave streaks on glass? ›

Microfiber cloths are absorbent cloths that can be washed and reused to clean windows, leaving them clear, shiny and streak-free. These are best used to apply cleaning solutions to windows, scrub them clean and wipe them dry. Best of all, they are soft and pose no risk to your windows.

Is it better to clean glass with vinegar? ›

Is Vinegar a Good Cleaner for Windows? Distilled vinegar is effective at cleaning glass because of its acidic composition.

Does Windex leave streaks? ›

You probably know using an all-purpose cleaner isn't the best idea, since it'll make the glass cloudy. But even mirror-specific products like Windex, while effective at cleaning, can leave your mirror full of streaks because they contain so much soap.

Why clean windows with vinegar? ›

Vinegar is non-toxic, making it perfect for cleaning your windows instead of using harsh chemicals. It is much more economical than chemical cleaning solutions. Crawling insects are also not fond of vinegar, so using this solution will help keep your windows looking cleaner for longer.

How do you clean windows & make them sparkle? ›

A trusted way to get windows sparkling is a combination of water and vinegar. Fill a bucket with water and add two or three cups of white vinegar. Submerge a sponge or clean cloth in the liquid and apply generously. Dry with a clean cloth.

What kind of vinegar do you use to clean windows? ›

You can also make an all-natural window cleaning solution using a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and hot water. Adding a touch of liquid soap to the vinegar solution will help remove any streak-causing wax left on the window from commercial cleaners used in the past.

Is Dawn dish soap good for washing outside windows? ›

Dawn as a substitute glass cleaner

There is no need to panic. One of the most effective ways to clean glass is dish soap – it's what professional window cleaners use when cleaning exterior windows. Dish soap can remove stuck-on dirt and cuts any hazy build-up. It also works well on cloudy mirrors.

What do window cleaners use in their water? ›

Window cleaners purify their water by passing it through a series of filters and resins, making use of natural processes like reverse osmosis and deionisation. They then store this water, usually in a suitably equipped vehicle, so that they can get it to their customers.

How often should I clean the inside of my windows? ›

Every Six Months: Windows — Wash your windows inside and out every six months to maintain a clear view out of them. Curtains/Drapes — Some people might overlook washing drapes or curtains but it's something to do every six months.

What do pros use to clean glass? ›

Both men said the secret is to use regular water with a small amount of liquid dish soap in it. You can purchase special window-washing soaps for this purpose if you want. The second most important thing is to use the correct tool to clean the glass. Pros use a lambswool tool that they rub across the glass.

What is the proper procedure in cleaning a window? ›

Start by rinsing the windows with the hose, then fill a bucket with clean, cool water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap. Using a soft microfiber cloth, go over the surface of the window. For higher windows, use a sponge mop (or a soft cotton or microfiber mop) on a pole. Rinse thoroughly with the hose.

Is Windex a good glass cleaner? ›

The best product for getting reliably clean and clear glass is Windex. It can be used on a variety of surfaces to clean without leaving streaks, and it's strong enough to get rid of tough stains.

What is the white stuff between double pane windows? ›

Silica Desiccant

A desiccant is an absorbent material designed to maintain dryness in the space it protects. In a double-paned window, silica pellets inside the aluminum perimeter strip absorb moisture from any incoming air that enters the space between the panes.

How do you fix foggy double pane windows? ›

The only way to rid a thermal window of condensation is by removing the moist air in between the panes and replacing it with dry air.

Are paper towels good for cleaning glass? ›

Avoid using paper towels, clothes and tissues as they may be soft, but may have a crude surface that can easily attract dust or scratch your residential glass or storefront glass. Use microfibers to elongate their life.

How do you make crystal clear windows? ›

Simply add a 50-50 mix of white distilled vinegar and tap water to a spray bottle. Some professional window cleaners add a little dish washing detergent to the mixture.

Is vinegar better than Windex for windows? ›

It also cleans MUCH better than Windex. Whereas the blue liquid left me with streaky windows, this one leaves absolute nothing but sparkling glass panes behind. It goes on a little cloudy, but then magically wipes clear—it's pretty amazing stuff!

What's the best cloth for cleaning glass? ›

A waffle weave, zero lint microfibre cloth is best for glass cleaning. A good example is the Stjarngloss Rutig Waffle Glass Cloth or the Gtechniq MF5 Power Glass Cloth. Whichever brand you end up using it is important to maintain your glass cloth by using a good quality microfibre cleaner.

What is the best cloth for streak free car windows? ›

​​Waffle weave microfiber towels are the consensus favorite for cleaning automotive glass. They are super absorbent, the low pile is unlikely to lint, and the high-low contour of the waffle ridges attacks grit and grime while reducing wiping friction, so that the towels easily glide over the surface, for fast cleaning.

What is the best paper to clean windows with? ›

Newspapers printed in soy ink are the best option for window cleaning. Pick up a soft type of newspaper for your cleaning needs. If you choose to clean with newspaper, you should prepare a cleaning solution to achieve perfect cleaning result. It's really simple ,you should mix equal parts water and equal parts vinegar.

What is the disadvantage of vinegar in cleaning? ›

Vinegar doesn't sanitize or disinfect

Some limitations are that vinegar doesn't disinfect MRSA, STAPH and other nasty germs that can make your family sick. Vinegar DIY cleaners can leave behind as much as 20% of the germs that make families sick because it's not potent enough to kill all of them.

Can you wash windows with dawn and vinegar? ›

Mix up your window-cleaning solution: In a plastic spray bottle, mix together 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn. Sweep away dirt: Using a broom, sweep away the cobwebs and debris from the windows and sills.

Is distilled vinegar the same as white vinegar? ›

White vinegar, also known as distilled vinegar or spirit vinegar, is made by fermenting grain alcohol (ethanol) which then turns into acetic acid. Water is then added to the vinegar, so white vinegar is made of five to ten percent acetic acid and ninety to ninety-five percent water.

What soap do professional window cleaners use? ›

Professional window cleaners often use dish soaps like Dawn or Joy to help their window cleaning squeegees glide.

What should you not clean glass with? ›

Use a cleaning solution: Like Glass-Rite cleaner! Or we also recommend a simple solution of equal parts vinegar and water, a Windex solution in water is good also. Do not use glass cleaners that are ammonia or alcohol based. They may leave streaks or make a film that attracts moisture or dust.

What is the best and easiest way to clean glass? ›

The best way to clean glass windows or tabletops is by using either a coffee filter or a microfiber cloth. In the end, using microfiber cloths or coffee filters is a bit easier and yields more or less the same streak-free shine a properly wielded squeegee would.

How do you clean windows without paper towels? ›

Natural chamois cloths, which are typically sold in the auto care aisle, work great. Another good option is to buy a pack of microfiber cloths. Both chamois and microfiber will help you achieve a streak-free shine without leaving a layer of lint behind.

Which is better for cleaning windows ammonia or vinegar? ›

Both vinegar and ammonia are good cleaning agents, but if you want to be on the safe side, then it's best to go with vinegar. Vinegar is less hazardous. When it comes to actually wiping the windows down, however, microfiber cloths are the best thing to use for absorbency.

Does vinegar leave streaks on glass? ›

Cleaning Solution

Commercial window cleaners will leave a very fine wax residue, a cleaning mixture of vinegar and water alone will often result in streaky windows. To remove this wax residue a simple detergent can be added to the vinegar and water to perfectly clean your windows!

How long should vinegar sit on window? ›

Simply warm 1 cup (240 mL) of white vinegar and apply it directly to glass (a spray bottle is best for this particular solution). If your windows are extra dirty, you can leave this solution on your windows to soak for a minute or two before you rinse it off.

Why are my windows smeared after cleaning? ›

A big problem is the evaporation rate. If you're cleaning your windows on a warm sunny day, the liquid part of the solution evaporates quickly and leaves behind a residue that appears as streaks. On the other hand, if you don't entirely remove the liquid you can also be left with a streaky window.

How do you clean windows without haze? ›

How to Remove Cloudy Film from Your Windows
  1. In a spray bottle, combine 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 5 drops of concentrated dish soap. ...
  2. Generously mist the solution over the surface of the window, and allow it to sit on the glass for a few minutes.

What is the ratio for vinegar and water to clean windows? ›

Mix up your window-cleaning solution: In a plastic spray bottle, mix together 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn. Sweep away dirt: Using a broom, sweep away the cobwebs and debris from the windows and sills.

Are paper towels good for cleaning windows? ›

Paper towels are typically treated for absorbency, which makes them ideal for spills, but awful for glass cleaning. Instead, substitute your paper towels for something more practical, like actual cloth. Lint-free cotton cloths, like microfiber cloths are great options for glass cleaners.

Does vinegar clean windows better than Windex? ›

It also cleans MUCH better than Windex. Whereas the blue liquid left me with streaky windows, this one leaves absolute nothing but sparkling glass panes behind. It goes on a little cloudy, but then magically wipes clear—it's pretty amazing stuff!

What is the best window cleaner without streaks? ›

Best Overall: Stoner Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner

Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner quickly and easily removes fingerprints, smudges, grease and grime without leaving behind residue for a streak-free shine without soaps, scents or dyes. In fact, Invisible Glass guarantees a streak-free finish or your money back.

How do you clean interior windows like a pro? ›

Use a dry, lint-free towel, ideally a microfiber cloth, to wash the window, spreading the solution across the glass. This will work better than paper towels, which can leave behind lint. Apply light pressure on any stubborn, stuck-on gunk. Once all the dirt is off the windows, it's time to dry them.

How often should you clean the inside of your windows? ›

Every Six Months: Windows — Wash your windows inside and out every six months to maintain a clear view out of them. Curtains/Drapes — Some people might overlook washing drapes or curtains but it's something to do every six months.

What detergent do window cleaners use? ›

Professional window cleaners often use dish soaps like Dawn or Joy to help their window cleaning squeegees glide.

Do you have to rinse after cleaning with vinegar? ›

Rinsing is not necessary! If you're simply using a vinegar and water solution to wipe and disinfect, you won't need to rinse. However, if there's also plenty of dirt and grime you're wiping away, you may also want to rinse with some extra water.

Do you use straight vinegar to clean windows? ›

You should use straight vinegar. If your windows are really dirty, it's good to use an extra strength solution to wash them. Just warm 1 cup (240 mL) of white vinegar. It can be applied directly to the glass and it's best to use a spray bottle for this specific solution.


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