Clean windows let more light into your home and provide gorgeous views into your yard. But there’s no need to call in professional window washers to get this job done. We’ve got step-by-step directions to DIY your way to sparkling windows and screens.
• Spray bottle filled with cleaner (you can use store bought window cleaner or make your own by combining 1 part white or cider vinegar and 10 parts warm water)
• Microfiber cloth or paper towels
• Vacuum or soft brush
1. Pick the Right Day for the Job. Bright sunny days are not the time to wash windows—the blazing sun can dry the cleaning solution before you have a chance to wipe it away, leaving windows looking streaky. For a perfect, streak-free finish, choose a dry, cloudy day.
2. Prep First. As with any project, proper prep is the key to a job well done. Start by sweeping dust and dirt from windows and windows frames with a soft brush or the dusting attachment on your vacuum. (And you might as well dust blinds and shades with a microfiber duster while you’re at it.) Remove any stickers or decals from window glass by rubbing them with a dab of mayonnaise—yes, mayonnaise!— then use the straight edge of a credit card to scrape the sticker or decal right off. (Never use razors to remove sticky items from windows; you could end up permanently scratching the glass.) If the tracks and bottom of the window frame are dirty, read this post for step-by-step instructions to get rid of dirt and grime. And here’s a pro-tip: cleaning the frame around your window doesn’t just look good—it can help you save money on energy costs, because a clean window frame has a tighter seal that stops air-conditioned air from leaking out.
3. Spray on Cleaner and Wipe Clean. Starting inside, generously spritz the glass with cleaner from top to bottom, then wipe with a microfiber cloth or paper towels. Start by wiping left to right, then wipe from top to bottom to eliminate streaking.
4. Clean Outside. If you’re lucky enough to have newer windows with tilt-in sashes for easy cleaning, simply tilt the windows in and repeat steps 2 and 3 on the exterior glass. If your home has older windows that don’t tilt in, you’ll need a sponge or microfiber mop on a pole, a hose and a ladder to reach higher windows. To start, spray the windows down with a hose, then spritz the glass with your cleaning solution and wipe with a sponge to remove dirt and grime. Rinse the cleaning solution with a hose, then, working from top to bottom, wipe the glass dry (work from left to right and top to bottom) with a microfiber cloth.
Now that your windows are clean… it’s time to move onto the screens. Window screens can collect dirt and dust, which then blows into your home so they should be deep cleaned at least once a year.
• Drop cloth
• Bucket filled with ¼ cup of vinegar and ½ gallon warm water
1. Remove screens from the windows; you may want to label each screen so you remember which window it fits after you’re done.
2. Lay a drop cloth down on a large, flat surface and arrange screens in a single layer. Use the dusting attachment on your vacuum to remove loose dirt and grime.
3. Working with one screen at a time, lift the screen and gently wash away dirt with a sponge dipped in the vinegar solution. Rinse the screen with a hose (set the hose on the gentlest pressure possible to avoid damaging the screening), then lay the screens out to dry before replacing in the windows.
And here’s a cool trick: in between cleanings, just roll a lint roller over screens for a quick and easy clean.
What if your screens need more than a good cleaning?
Screens aren’t meant to last forever—they rip and tear or become misshapen, the spline that holds the screening in the frame can loosen, and metal frames can even rust. Fortunately, you can buy replacement window screens and screen accessories to fix these problems and save you the expense of buying new window screens.
• Small tears and rips can be mended with screen patches—they’re small squares of adhesive screen material that you position on the damaged area and press into place like a band-aid.
• If the screen is too damaged to be repaired with a patch but the frame is still in good shape, our replacement Screen Spline makes it easy to replace screening in an existing frame. Start by laying the frame on a flat surface and removing the damaged screening and spline. Unroll fresh screen fabric over the frame, allowing for a ½” overlap on all sides. Holding the fabric tight, use a spline roller tool to roll the fabric into the groove around the frame opening, then press the spline into the groove to secure the fabric.
• If your screens are beyond salvaging, our W.B. Marvin Adjustable Window Screens install in seconds. Just open your window slightly higher than the screen, place the screen in the window opening, and pull on each side until it fits snugly in the window opening. Gently close the window to hold the screen in place.