Practical Tips For Cleaning Windows Both New And Old

Updated:  July 1, 2021

The old quip, “I don’t do windows” is uttered by many homeowners who can’t figure out how to safely get their windows sparkling clean. While cleaning windows inside is an easy task, if you don’t address the dirt on the outside, the job is only half done. In fact, if you want easier window cleaning, the trick is to install the right kind of windows that allow you to clean inside and out from inside the home. Regardless of how old your windows are, here are our practical tips for cleaning both new and older windows.

Cleaning Windows – New

Cleaning-Windows-New-Weaver-Exterior-RemodelingNew windows are designed with convenience and easy maintenance in mind. Along with their energy efficiency, everything about them is focused on keeping your home comfortable, allowing the sun to shine in, and ensuring your home is secure. Part of the appeal of new window installation is how easy they are to clean and maintain. From a durability standpoint, the vinyl windows make the most sense as they are maintenance-free. Even custom colours do not require repainting as the colour is part of the vinyl itself. Last but not least, when it comes to cleaning the buildup of dirt on your windows outside, new windows allow you to either crank the window to reach outside surfaces or tilt them inwards for an easy clean. Here’s how you can wash your new windows:

Cleaning Inside

  • Cleaning-Windows-Never-When-Its-Raining-Weaver-ExteriorClean Windows on a Cloudy Day: The first rule is to never clean your windows when it is raining or sunny. Rain makes it impossible to see if you’ve removed the dirt and the sun heats the windows, evaporating your cleaner before you have time to wipe it away. This results in streaks that are very hard to remove as they are “baked” on the glass.
  • Do a Dry Rub First: To make the job easier use your duster or a dry microfiber cloth to remove any loose dirt and dust from the glass, frame, and sill. This prevents picking loose dirt up as you use your soap and water.
  • Remove the Screen: Your new windows will have the screen on the inside. Just squeeze the little tabs on either side and it will pop right out.
  • Use Plenty of Cleaner: You have your choice of cleaner whether it is a spray glass cleaner, warm soapy water, or your own homebrew using a mix of either ½ cup lemon juice or vinegar, 2 cups water and a ¼ cup 70% concentrate rubbing alcohol. The key is to apply your cleaner using a spray bottle and spritzing the window thoroughly so you can reduce the chance of streaks.
  • Wipe with a Microfiber Cloth: Microfiber is the only cloth that won’t leave streaks or little pieces of lint like paper towels. Always use a clean cloth and rub off the cleaner until you see that shine. While you might think a squeegee is required, they end up making a mess with all the soap and water dripping to the floor. However, if you are doing a major window such as a picture window or sliding glass doors, the squeegee is the right choice. Just put down a towel to sop up the mess. If you leave streaks wipe them away with your microfiber cloth.

Cleaning Outside

Cleaning-Windows-Clean-Outside-Surface-From-Inside-Weaver-Exterior-BarrieDepending on what type of window you have, you can complete your cleaning job for outside surfaces from inside your house. For windows such as casement or awning, crank them open to a position that allows you to reach out, apply the soap and then wipe them down. In the case of outside window cleaning, it is best to go with a window cleaning product designed to cut grime, as outside window surfaces will be much dirtier than inside. Use the same spray and wipe method as above.

For sliders or single and double-hung windows, they use a tilt function to access outside surfaces. In this case, you should have little tabs or locks of some kind that allow you to pop the window from the sill so you can clean easily. Again, follow the same process as above. Once you’re done you can return the windows to their usual position and pop the screens back into place.

Cleaning Non-Operational Windows

Cleaning-Windows-That-Are-Non-Operational-Weaver-ExteriorFor non-operational windows, you’ll have to do things the old-fashioned way. Use these steps:

  • Spray Windows Down with a Hose: First, use the spray nozzle on your hose to do a thorough rinse job of the windows. You should be able to reach upstairs windows using this method as well.
  • Use a Window Cleaner: As mentioned above, outdoor windows usually need an actual window cleaner to help cut grime. For windows you can reach easily, use the same method as above, applying plenty of cleaner, and wiping them clean with a dry microfiber cloth.
  • Upper Windows: For windows you can’t reach, it’s safest to opt for a squeegee with an extension that allows you to reach higher spots. Dip your squeegee in a bucket of mop window cleaner (you should be able to find this at your local hardware store) and using the sponge side of the squeegee do your best to soak the window and remove any visible spots.
  • Rinse Again: Instead of using the squeegee side to remove the excess cleaner, use the hose for a thorough rinse. Your window cleaner should allow you to do so and not leave streaks.
  • Be Prepared to Get Wet: Chances are you are going to get dripped on, so try to stand as far back when doing upper floors as your squeegee pole allows.


Opt for fall cleaning over spring cleaning if you do your windows once a year. You’ll be more likely to have a cloudy day, and also won’t have to contend with sticky pollen ruining your work!

Cleaning Windows – Old

Cleaning-Windows-Old-Weaver-Exterior-RemodelingCleaning older windows can be more of a challenge, especially for the outside. While you can follow the same steps listed above for inside window cleaning, your outside cleaning will require following the steps listed for cleaning non-operational windows. There is just no way around this, other than installing new windows. New windows make the job much easier, especially on the second floor. You’ll also enjoy all the benefits of energy-efficient, attractive, maintenance-free windows to boot.

If you’d like more information on new vinyl windows, click here to get a quote today.



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Weaver has over two decades of experience and provides comprehensive installation services for windows, doors, and aluminum in the Barrie region, making it a convenient option for all project sizes.