How to Clean Windows: Tips for Washing Windows & More

The sunshine is here {yay!} and when we look out at the beautiful spring day we don’t want to see fingerprints, smudges, or mildew. Today we are learning how to clean windows!
First we are going to start with washing our windows and wiping down our sills.  Traditionally you think of washing your windows with glass cleaner and some paper towels but today I’m going to challenge you to do it differently.
Here’s what you need:
Bucket
A few drops of dish soap
Squeegee
2 rags

This is a super easy way to wash windows.  It will save you money, because you won’t use up all of your glass cleaner, and it’s environmentally friendly!  The best part is that it’s guaranteed to leave your windows streak-free!  I have been washing my windows this way for years and I love it!  It’s so easy and so satisfying when I’m done.

For this tutorial I had to use my large pot because I couldn’t find my bucket anywhere!  It worked nicely though because it had a handle on each side to hold my rag and my squeegee.
Step 1: Wipe down the entire window with soapy water. {I took these pictures at night in hopes that you could actually see what I was doing, instead of just seeing what was outside}.
Step 2: Use the squeegee to wipe the water off.  At the end of each swipe down, wipe the squeegee dry with the dry rag.  A little water will accumulate on the window sill but don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
Pretty gross!  My windows looked clean but I guess they weren’t really. :/
When you are finished with each window wipe the window sill clean with the wet, soapy cloth.  Now that your windows and sills are sparkly, I’m going to show you the best way to clean window tracks.
For the window tracks you will need:
Q-Tips  {if yours are as bad as mine you will need a lot}
A small cup of white vinegar
Paper towels
I had not cleaned them, since we moved in last June.  GROSS!!!  {For the record this tutorial was written in 2011.  My windows have been very clean ever since!}
Step 1: Dip your Q-tip in the white vinegar and wipe out the grime.  This is embarrassing but look at what came out of mine!

Step 2: Run the Q-tip along the whole inside of the  track…

and then wipe it out with a paper towel.
I had to show this because it is disgusting!  I thought this would make you all feel better about your houses, since I’m supposed to be the clean one!!!
Seriously gross!!!
Nothing a little white vinegar and paper towel can’t fix.
MUCH better now!
Don’t forget about the tracks on your sliding glass doors.  I vacuum mine every time I vacuum but I’ve never got down on my hands and knees to clean it out.

Now you know the best way to clean windows, window tracks and window sills and I’m sure all your friends will be asking you how you got them so clean!

Disclaimer – I have included a few affiliate links to the products I used in this project, if you buy through the link I get a small commission but you don’t pay a cent more than you normally would. Thank you for supporting Ask Anna!

About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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Discussion

  1. 1

    Awesome! I don’t know why I never thought of Q-tips and Vinegar! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • 2

      I use a toothbrush and vinegar or window cleaner but it’s STILL a huge job–takes a good day to do all teh windows and sliders of the house. My Milgard windows have very narrow tracks–so hard to clean out the gunk and old insect bodies!! eeewww gross.

  2. 3

    Very helpful thank u

  3. 4

    oh wow! I totaly owe you huge for this post alone! We rent a house that has slider windows and doors in almost every room and I hate cleaning windows period but this saves me so much time and energy! I never thought about q-tips ususaly i just vacume the tracks and they never are clean enough for my husband but i couldnt figure out how to get down in there :) perfect thank you so much!!! Looking forward to seeing some clean sparkling windows and doors in my home this weekend!

  4. 6

    I’m curious about washing windows with soapy water and not rinsing. No streaks? Seems like there would be.

    • 7

      I’ve never had streaks on my windows! Just make sure you don’t put a lot of soap in your water, and use a good squeegee. :)

  5. 8

    this tip is going to be a total life-saver! we just bought a house and it needs serious window cleaning.. thank you :)

  6. 9

    I live on first floor and I can’t figure out how to clean windows from outside. I don’t have access to reach from outside as that place is rooftop of neighbors laundry. So is there any way to do that?

    • 10

      To clean them I would spray them really well, from the outside, with a pressure washer. Make sure you do it on a hot day though so the windows dry quickly and you don’t end up with water streaks. :)

      • 11

        Lots of window companies advise AGAINST pressure washing your windows. That process can break the seal and lead to window failure. And NEVER on a hot day … fast drying actually causes streaks.

  7. 12

    The smell of vinegar makes me physically ill. Do you have a suggestion for a substitute to clean my window tracks? They are far nastier than yours. ;o)

  8. 14
    Lori Hill says:

    Do you have any suggestions on how to clean the gunk in the track of my shower door? I wasn’t sure if I could use the same “window cleaning” tips. It seems there may be some type of calcium build-up along with the crud and mold in the shower track. I’m also struggling to keep up with the mold on the caulking in our shower even when we squigee the shower every day. It’s easy to say that my shower is my nemesis :)

  9. 16

    this is amazing. i’ve always hated nasty window tracks but struggle to get them clean. have you ever tried that tool on amazon, it’s a triangle shaped brush for maintaining tracks. i’ve always wondered if that worked in between. anyway. thanks!

  10. 17

    I use a small paint brush to clean out the loose dirt before it gets wet. Works well for me.

  11. 18

    Is there any way to clean between the double-pane windows in the sliding glass door, or front picture window?

    • 19

      I don’t have an answer to that, sorry. I would call a glass shop and ask them.

    • 20

      You may be reffering to what is called a “leaking seal?” Most double panes windows have and air tight ceal that over time can begin to leak allowing air to enter between the window panes. The result are windows that begin to fog up. There is a technology that can now repair these types of windows, or as you mentioned “clean between the double paines. It can be costly and only restores the windows if they are not at the point of no-return. Many homes have windows that have fogged up and thus this issue is very relevant.

    • 21

      Sounds like your seal is broken on your window! My dad’s had that happen he had to replace it. . . Good luck!

  12. 22
    Mihaela says:

    Great Ideas. To clean the windows and sliding doors tracks I’m using my deep steamer to soften the grime and then just wiping everything with a wet, soapy cloth and drying with a clean rag.

  13. 23

    Hi! I just have to say… its a GOOD thing you had something to actually CLEAN when you did this tutorial! I just saw something on FB last week… about razor ads, should ‘shave a gorilla’, not a smooth leg to prove their point… so thats what you did! Shows that it really works! ;)

  14. 24
    Rebecca C says:

    great ideas. i also like to use baby wipes to clean the window sill and the tracks. i buy the huge box of target brand wipes and they work really well. i use them to clean the seals and side of car doors too. i pretty much use them for everything, even changing diapers :0)

  15. 25

    Hi Anna, great post with very helpful tips on cleaning and how to get into those tight spots to really clean too.

  16. 26

    HI Anna,
    I just moved into a “new” house. The vertical blinds (they clip up the top to a rail and hang down, with a use of two strings they can either be rotated or slid off to a side of a window) need a major cleaning and whitening job. They are made of soft plastic (very bendable, almost like a tough fabric).
    I use vinegar and dish soap in a lot of my cleaning (cheaper and less chemicals involved). I had an idea of soaking the blinds in a bathtub. But I am not sure what is the best natural product to use to whiten them.
    Any ideas???? (I don’t want to have to repeat this exercise more than once as I have a job and weekends are my only times for cleaning.)

    thanks in advance,
    olena

    • 27

      Wow, I’m sorry that I am JUST seeing this comment! I hope I’m not too late. :/ There are a few good whiteners you can use, all of them are good: baking soda, borax, oxi clean.

    • 28

      use a microfiber to get the dust of first, the take them outside, lay the on your picnic table and spray with Awesome. I buy it at the dollar store for $1.00. You can dilute it to your needs by following the directions on the bottle. I use the hose on ” jet spray ” feature on the hose. If there is mold or dirt left I spray with Clorox clean up. Rinse and lay over one of the out door chairs to drip dry.

  17. 29

    adorei e gostaria de saber com limpar rejunte sujo demais

  18. 30

    Também gosto muito de limpar, amei a dica.

  19. 31

    So I saw this last night via Pinterest and it must really be in my brain because this a.m. I woke from a dream in which I was cleaning a window well and a friend showed up and she had a Water Pik ATTACHED to her hand. I thought this was the most BRILLIANT idea I’d ever seen–using a Water Pick to get into the nooks and crannies. Maybe you should incorporate that into this post as an alternative idea, LOL!
    Lynn recently posted..Celebrate Green and make a recycled 4th of July candle holderMy Profile

  20. 34

    We just moved into our house last month and after cleaning the 2 master bedroom windows & sliding glass door, I have come to the conclusion that there is no way that the previous owners ever cleaned them! YUCK! Thanks for sharing your tips! Now, on to the remaining windows :-/

    BTW – Anna & Lynn, I tried the water pick and it definitely helped get out the years of buildup in the corners. So, thank you Lynn & your awesome dream for that idea! :)

  21. 35

    I have double glass windows and they are fogged and dirty in between the two panes of glass like the oven glass any ideas on what to do?

  22. 37
    Vashra Araeshkigal says:

    Hey Anna….I just thought you would like to know the following:

    White vinegar as sold in the United States is 5% acid by volume. It contains chemicals which, upon drying, can permanently damage some vinyls and which weaken latex (including paints) and which can make some unfinished aluminum “rust” a powdery white color. It can also dry leaving that classic “vinegar” smell.

    Hydrogen Peroxide (the kind you get for like 99p a bottle in the pharmacy area) is 3% acid by volume (ever so slightly weaker). It can also cause problems with some aluminum, but doesn’t affect vinyl or latex or most color-safe fabrics (it’s not strong enough to bleach the way the peroxide used for some hair treatments is). When it dries, it leaves *no* residue and *no* odor.

    For this reason, I consider it the better choice for nearly all applications which call for white vinegar. (It’s inferior for grease-treatment)

  23. 38

    Hi Anna , marvelous idea will enjoy looking forward to your emails. keep them coming. Yes you are truelly blessed as well teaching people how to look after GODS KINGDOM……………May he continue to blee you. Regards Jennixx

    • 39

      was supposed to say may be continue BLESSING YOU ANNA.. Also fairy liquid was chosen by Which Magazine to get rid of dirty oils as well.. no acids or harsh chemicals and so so cheap….

  24. 40

    As a professional window cleaner I would like to add this tip – A great way to sanitize and clean mold and grime out of the window and door tracks is by using a small hand held steam cleaner. There are a couple of good brands out their, such as the Bissell Steam Shot which is the one that I like to use.

  25. 41
    Graham,tx handyman says:

    Ah ha! Q-tips.

  26. 42

    Wow! I have never thought of using q tips! What a good idea. My window tracks- especially at the sliding glass door where the firewood gets brought in looks totally gross. I get it mostly clean but have yet to get right into the corners. Thank you!

  27. 43

    Hi, Anna,

    Love your site. I have been using everything available in combination with vinegar, corn starch, salt, baking soda and blah, blah, blah. I can say with all seriousness that I am an expert in putting the stuff together to clean. When it doesn’t get the soap scum off my shower door/walls, I’m not a happy girl.

    But, at least I will have the cleanest sliding door tracks in the neighborhood. LOL. Thanks a lot for the tips!

  28. 44

    I sell Tupperware and for years they have a product they give away as a party tool but its the orange peeler This tool has a flat end that work perfect for cleaning the grooves in the windows alnog with your viniger and QTips

  29. 45

    Just another hint that I have found useful through the years,. I always use a toothbrush or small brush and loosen all the dirt and then vacuum that out before I starting washing with water… If the dust and dirt are gone it much less messy when you start with the water.

  30. 46

    Thank you Anna. Wow! Now I know what to do with my stash of old q-tips.

  31. 47

    Thank you Anna!!
    These are great ideas…as soon as it warms up I will try this for sure
    Robyn

  32. 48

    I love some of your ideas and will be trying them out when I house clean in a few weeks.

  33. 49
    marles hess says:

    I am going to try the oven door trick, I am a neat freak, if it works wow, I always have to take my oven door apart which is a big job…. thanks

  34. 50

    I enjoyed the directions for cleaning between oven doors & windows. I’m 71 years & everything is hard for me, but I try to keep my house clean. any advice is good & helpful. Joan

  35. 51
    Reena Bugayong says:

    Thanks for the tips! Keep it coming, pls!

  36. 52
    Mimi Moseley says:

    Okay, I’ll clean mine now.

  37. 53

    Thank you for sharing this post, winter is almost a memory in this neck of the woods and so time to get the grime off the windows and get them shining , this great suggestion seems that it will make my life some what easier !

  38. 54

    I have used vinegar and newspaper to clean and shine windows. 1st I wash the inside and outside with a product called “Awesome” diluted. It gets very soapy so I dilute it a lot and clean the soap off with vinegar.

  39. 55

    I spray the sills with Clorox clean up spray and let it sit there for 5 to 10 minutes until the mold and dirt turn white

  40. 56

    I used these tips when we were selling our house, and it made everything look brand-new!
    Thanks, Anna

    PS It sold in 3 weeks!

  41. 58
    hecktor1 says:

    Great ideas.

  42. 59

    it’s easier to clean window tracts with oven cleaner, that is if you can have the windows open in the whole house! Just spray a small amount on a sponge, wipe the sponge over the tracts and you are done… It gets everything off. You can’t use it on painted surfaces, it will take paint off quicker than any paint remover!

  43. 60

    I also find that if I clean my screen as well, when it rains my windows dont get as dirty as fast. You would be surprised how awesome your screens look after a quick scrub too. Use the same soapy water you use for the windows and give them a scrub and a rinse. Maybe in the tub.

  44. 61

    I have a steam cleaner and I use that alot when cleaning the window tracks. We have a huge problem with stink bugs here in PA so I have to clean alot of dead ones out of the tracks too. Gross!

  45. 62
    Marjorie says:

    Thank you. It’s like having a friend to clean beside you. I think you could pitch the ideas you have to propose doing a TV show for homemakers. They say the number of women staying at home to raise their kids is growing again, and it would be of interest to them and the new stay at home dads!

  46. 63

    wonderful cleaning tips. Makes cleaning easier. Thank you.

  47. 64

    This works really good!! I put the vinegar in a squirt bottle – and also have a separate squirt bottle with hot water in it. Spray the track with the vinegar, let set a minute, use the q-tip to loosen the dirt, wipe with a paper towel, then use the water squirt bottle with the tip on “stream” and spray out the corners and crevices and under the window where it meets in the middle with a firm stream. The squirt bottle works so much better with the “force” of the water to get those little spots that are hard to get. Continue to wipe with a paper towel until dry. I also use the same method on my shower door where it gets gooey and there are so many hard to reach spots. Again – that firm stream of water sprays the guck right out so you can rinse and wipe it away.

    • 65

      I’ve tried vinegar + dish soap water for my shower door, amazing! The secret, warm it up in a microwave for a minute or two, works amazing!
      There is just so much to learn… it is exciting to be a first time home owner :)
      Nellie recently posted..Fireplace Makeover My Profile

  48. 66

    Seems like a vinegar and dish soap can do pretty much anything! I’ll save lots of monies and keep the house eco friendly with all of your amazing recommendations… my windows are embarrassing dirty. I bet it’s not even healthy to have all that dirt sitting there…
    Thanks for sharing,
    Nellie
    Nellie recently posted..Fireplace Makeover My Profile

  49. 67

    Thank you for showing a pic of your windows and sills before and after cleaning…and mostly thank you for being honest, that no matter who you are, no one can have a perfectly clean home…we do what we can do! God bless!!!

  50. 68

    Thank you Anna,I will try to wash my windows today I will use your method I always use windex and leave lot of streaks thanks again
    Rose.

  51. 69

    Awesome ! Thanks for all your great tips

  52. 70
    Lissa Little says:

    Can I just put the white vinegar in a squirt bottle & spray then wipe?

  53. 72
    Myreene says:

    I use a spray bottle with vinegar in it and spray the tracks then scrub with a brush. Then use a cloth (which can be re used) and wipe it out. Works for me and it takes a shorter time.

  54. 73

    Thank you for your post, We just bought a repossessed house and the window sills have not been cleaned forever and they are DISGUSTING and filled with many dead insects that are now stuck in the sill. I am hoping this will really help make this house feel a little more clean!
    Thanks again!

  55. 74

    I live in an apartment and the windows are very old. They need a good cleaning right now. Have to take the windows out to clean them. Thinking about having someone do them. My question is this. The frames are metal and they have something on them that will not come off. I have even tried Comet Cleanser and it didn’t work. It looks like little black dirty spots but I can’t figure out what to try next on them. Any clue?

    • 75
      mreynolds says:

      Donna – the black spots might be some kind of rust or maybe even a type of mold? Our best suggestion would be to have a professional window cleaning service come and look at it. I would love to know what you find out! Sorry we could not be more helpful!

  56. 76

    My slider tracks get gross very fast since we live on 2.5 acres of dirt. I use a paper towel and screwdriver to get into the corners. After reading this, I will follow up with Qtips.

  57. 77
    Ann Reeves says:

    Thanks for these great ideas Anna…..Ann

  58. 78
    Karen Faith Kuhns says:

    Thank you for these very useful tips! I appreciate it.

  59. 79

    Awesome tips on cleaning window sills and frames.

  60. 80
    Gretchen von Gustlin says:

    I use a hose vacuum before I clean the window on the sills and the sliding tracks to get rid of much dust and dirt before it gets wet. I find it cuts down on the overall cleaning time and keeps the wet dirt out of the little corners. If you don’t have a hose attachment a swifter would still be a great improvement or a DustBuster might work. Also soft toothbrush before the q-tips to get out the first and second layer is faster. Good luck.

  61. 81

    believe it or not.. I just use a T of Cornstarch in a bucket of water to wash the outside windows…
    their clean , shiny & streak free !! :-0