Outside windows usually have more grime than inside ones, so they require extra attention to detail when cleaning them. As long as you use the right technique to clean your outside windows twice a year, you’ll be able to keep them nice and clear. Avoid using commercial window cleaners and instead scrub your windows with a simple solution of clean, cool water and liquid dish detergent. Make sure to squeegee them clean using the proper technique to avoid streaks.
Cleaning Exterior Windows
1- Work on a cool, cloudy day so the windows don’t dry too fast. Choose an overcast day to wash your exterior windows so that there won’t be any direct sunlight on them. Too much sun will dry the window cleaning solution before you can wipe it all off and leave streaks on your windows.
It will also be much easier to see where the windows are dirty without the sun reflecting off of them.
Tip: A good way to test if it is too hot is to touch the glass of the outside windows you want to clean. If the glass is at all warm to the touch, then wait for a cooler day to clean the windows.
2- Remove any window screens and clean them if necessary. Pop off or unscrew the windows screens and set them on a clean tarp or drop cloth outside. Rinse them thoroughly with a garden hose on low pressure to clean off dust and dirt. Shake the excess water off the screens, dry them with a clean towel as much as you can, and let them air dry all the way.
You can spot-clean any particularly dirty areas with a soft-bristled scrubbing brush and water to remove stuck-on dirt that doesn’t come off by rinsing.
For extra cleaning, rinse the screen, then spray it with a water and vinegar solution. Rinse it again, then let it dry thoroughly.
3- Rinse all the windows with a water before cleaning. This will get rid of the top layer of dust and dirt. It will make it much easier to focus on cleaning the more stubborn grime off the windows.
The easiest way to do this is with a garden hose. If you don’t have a garden hose or you can’t reach all of the windows with your hose, then fill a bucket with water from the faucet and splash it onto the windows to rinse them.
- Fill a bucket with clean water and 1 squirt of liquid dish detergent. Fill a clean bucket with clean, cool water from the faucet. Squeeze 1 squirt of liquid dish detergent from the bottle into the water in the bucket to make a window washing solution.
- Cool water takes longer to dry, so it will give you more time to work before the cleaning solution starts to dry and leave streaks on your windows.
- Dip a window scrubber or sponge into the bucket and wring it out. A window scrubber is ideal for cleaning medium to large windows as it will cover more area. A large sponge, like the kind for washing cars, works fine as well.
- You can also use a soft microfiber cloth.
- It’s important to squeeze out the excess cleaning solution from the sponge or scrubber to help reduce streaking.
- Window scrubbers are wide rectangular sponges attached to a handle of some kind. The handle can often be screwed onto a standard broomstick or telescopic pole.
- Scrub the window at all angles with the window scrubber or sponge. Start at the top of a window and work your way down. Scrub in all directions at different angles to cover every part of the glass.
- If the sponge or scrubber gets dirty in the middle of cleaning a window, dip it in the solution and wring it out again, then continue to clean the rest of the window.
- Squeegee a narrow vertical strip at 1 side of the window. Start in the top corner, tilt the squeegee so just the corner is touching the glass, and pull it all the way down the glass to create a clean vertical strip along the edge on 1 side of the window. This will make it easier to squeegee the whole window clean using horizontal strokes.
- If you are right-handed, start in the top left-hand corner. If you are left-handed, start in the top right-hand corner.
- Use horizontal strokes to squeegee the whole window clean. Turn the squeegee horizontally and place the edge against the clean strip in the top corner. Pull it firmly across the window to remove the cleaning solution from the glass. Work your way down the entire window, overlapping your strokes by about 2 in (5.1 cm), until the glass is totally clear.
- Wipe your squeegee with a clean, dry cloth between strokes to remove excess liquid.
- You don’t need to rinse the window after scrubbing it with the soapy water because the squeegee will remove all of the solution and leave the window clean.
- Wipe up any remaining drops of water with a dry, lint-free cloth. Use a microfiber cloth or other lint-free cloth to dry off any drips of water you missed with the squeegee. Pay special attention to the perimeter of the glass where the squeegee might not have reached all the way.
- Put your fingertip inside the cloth and wipe it along the side, top, and bottom edges to get right into the corners and ensure you dry up all the remaining drops of water.
- You can also use newspaper to dry your windows.
- Reattach any window screens that you removed. Give the screens a final inspection once they are dry and spot-clean any areas you notice are still dirty. Pop them back into place or screw them back on when you are satisfied that they are clean.
- If you clean your outdoor windows and screens every 6 months or at least every spring, it will be much easier to keep them looking clean.
Using Special Techniques
- Use a telescopic pole to clean hard-to-reach windows. A telescopic pole is like a broomstick that extends to different lengths. Screw a window scrubber onto one of these poles in order to scrub tall and out-of-reach windows, then swap a squeegee onto it to finish the cleaning.
- Use a window scrubber attached to the pole to scrub the window at all angles with soapy water, working from top to bottom. Then, put a squeegee on the pole and pull it straight down the window, working from one side to the other using overlapping strokes to remove all the water and soap.
- If you don’t have a telescopic pole, then you can use a ladder to reach high windows. Just make sure you have a helper to hold the ladder steady while you are cleaning the windows and be careful!
- Use a sponge and a custom-cut squeegee to clean multi-pane windows. A window scrubber will be too wide to clean a window that has multiple panes on it, so use a handheld sponge that will fit within each pane. Cut a squeegee to fit the window panes using a hacksaw for the metal part and a utility knife for the rubber strip.
- Scrub the glass with the sponge soaked in a solution of clean, cool water and liquid dish detergent. Squeegee each pane clean with 1 stroke from top to bottom with your custom-cut squeegee.
Tip: Cut the metal part about 1⁄4 in (0.64 cm) shorter than the width of the windowpane, and make the rubber strip the exact width of the windowpane.
- Soak stubborn stains with a vinegar and water solution before scrubbing. Mix a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it onto stubborn grime, such as bird droppings. Let it soak for 3-5 minutes, then wipe it with a dry sponge to remove it.
- Don’t use steel wool or abrasive scrubbing pads as these can scratch the window glass.
Clean mineral deposits off windows with a commercial CLR cleaner. Hard water can leave hard-to-clean mineral deposits on windows. Use a commercial cleaner that is meant for removing things like calcium, lime, and rust to remove these types of mineral stains. Follow the directions on the label to use it.
- These types of commercial cleaners are often marketed for cleaning things like showers and bathtubs. You don’t need anything made especially for glass.
- Avoid using commercial window cleaners for regular outdoor window cleaning because they often leave streaks and even attract more dust and dirt. Only use special cleaning products for removing mineral deposits left by hard water.
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