How to Clean Windows With Soap and Vinegar

Try these five easy steps for getting your windows (and mirrors) sparkly clean.

Let's be honest, I don't enjoy most household chores but I do love washing windows. There's a feeling of instant gratification when turning grimy, dirty panes into crystal clear glass. The yard looks better from the inside and the house looks better from the street. I'm washing away allergens like dust and pollen and letting the maximum amount of light into my home. Plus, window manufacturers recommend keeping your windows clean to preserve the energy efficiency of any special coatings on the glass.

There are many ideas floating around about the best way to clean windows, from using newspaper to squeegees to sponges. A question often asked is, "How do I avoid streaks?" No one likes to see streaking of any kind. You could hire a professional window cleaner or buy commercial window cleaning products, but we're going to tell you how to get professional-quality, streak-free windows at a fraction of the cost with a few easy steps.

Female hands in yellow gloves cleaning window with green rag and spray detergent. Spring cleanup, housework concept
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How Often to Clean Windows

Windows should be cleaned at least twice a year to prevent grime from building up. Once a season could be even better, depending on where you live—for instance, in a damp forest that coats your house in mildew and pollen much of the year, or on the coast, where salt can glaze your glass and cause problems.

Considerations Before Getting Started

To clean my windows, I like to use washable and re-useable microfiber cloths that are lint-free. Some people like to use newspapers to clean their windows, but I've always found this a bit cumbersome and never have a newspaper lying around the house. For years, paper towels were my go-to, but they leave lint and are wasteful. A squeegee is also a popular tool, but you're wiping all that water down the panes and then have to wipe up the mess with a towel. I find it takes a lot more time and energy than I'm willing to invest. Give our easy cleaning technique a try and your shiny windows will be the envy of the neighborhood.

What You Need

  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dawn Ultra dishwashing liquid (use the original blue Dawn)
  • Microfiber cloths (this pack of 24 cloths will last for years)
  • Broom (a soft-bristled broom is perfect for picking up dust)
  • Gloves (these latex-free gloves will keep that new manicure looking good)

How to Clean Windows With Soap and Vinegar

  1. Check the weather: The best time to wash windows is on an overcast but not rainy day. A hot, sunny day causes the cleaning solution to evaporate too fast before you can finish washing the window and leaves streaks.
  2. 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.
  3. Sweep away dirt: Using a broom, sweep away the cobwebs and debris from the windows and sills.
  4. Wash your windows: Spray your window panes with the solution and wipe off grime with a microfiber cloth, rubbing in a circular motion.
  5. Dry and remove streaks: Using a second clean microfiber cloth, dry off water and rub away any streaks.
Woman looking out of window at father and daughter running in yard
Getty/Justin Pumfrey

Tips to Keep Your Windows Clean Longer

While your windows will still need regular cleaning, there are a few tricks to reduce the amount of dirt and grime that collects on them in the meantime. Here are some tips for keeping your glass sparkling inside and out:

  • Keep shrubs, vines, and tree branches off of your windows, pruning whenever necessary.
  • If you don't open your windows in winter, remove the screens that are serving as a dirt trap, clean them, and store them away until spring.
  • If you live in a rainy climate, treat the exterior of your windows with rain repellant.
  • Change your furnace and A/C air filters when they get dirty.
  • Run the vent hood any time you cook in the kitchen.
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