Making Exterior Windows Sparkle

True confession: I like washing windows.  I’ll trade toilets for windows any day of the week.  I think I like it because it’s an easy way to brighten up my house.  Windows go from really dirty to really clean pretty quickly.  Also, I’m dealing with dirt, not germs.  Somehow that makes me feel better.

Get to know your windows.  Especially figure out if they have tricks to get behind the screen.  Some of mine lift out of the track pretty easily, or others tilt in.  These make it a lot easier to clean.  Also, if there are windows that you won’t be opening for the winter, consider taking the screens out and storing them in a shed or garage.  Your screenless windows will let in a lot more light and warmth – reducing your electricity and/or gas bill – and they’re a lot easier to clean.  (Take note not to keep all your windows closed through the winter – you still need to change out your air regularly.)

Some very well meaning people have given recipes for a window washing solution that includes mixing castile soap directly with vinegar.  Don’t do that, as I explain in my past blog, “A Word of Caution about Vinegar and Castile Soap.

One final tip, don’t wash your windows when the sun is shining directly on them. The spray will evaporate before you have a chance to squeegee it off, and you will be left with spots or streaks. The perfect window washing day would be overcast, but not raining. If that’s not happening, though, work around the sun’s schedule. Get the western facing windows earlier in the day, the eastern facing windows later in the day. The tricky ones (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) are those southern facing windows. Keep an eye on the shadows and dash out to clean them when you notice they’re fully shaded.

I’ll address cleaning the interiors of windows and mirrors next time.

A summary of supplies I mention in the video:
2 squirt bottles: One with ½ tsp. of Sal Suds diluted in a quart of water.  The other with pure club soda or half vinegar/half water.
2 microfiber cloths: sold least expensively in the car washing section
1 high quality squeegee: you get what you pay for – buy the good one.

Other options: Use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in place of Sal Suds, if you prefer.  Dilute 1 Tbsp. of castile soap in a quart of water for your squirt bottle.   Vinegar can be used in the place of Club Soda.

12 thoughts on “Making Exterior Windows Sparkle

  1. Have you found the club soda to work better than the vinegar diluted with water? Would adding vinegar to club soda make a difference?

    • @ Tom – I prefer the club soda to vinegar, but I don’t always have it on hand. Vinegar works fine. It’s what everybody used before the Great Windex Conversion. I haven’t ever combined the two, but I think the pure club soda would be better than adding vinegar. If you try it and find otherwise, please let me know. I’ll give it a shot as well.
      All the best,

  2. Hi Lisa

    If I was to use club soda (I think that is what’s called soda water in Scotland) would I need to get a new supply every time I washed my windows, or will it keep in the spray bottle till the next time?

    • Hi Rosemary – Yes, the carbonation is relevant, so it does have to be fresh. This is why I normally just turn to the vinegar solution. However, if you keep small cans of it on hand, or are doing a large job, go for the soda.

      All the best,

  3. The Sal Suds concentration I mention in this video and blog is lower than what I usually use around the house. If you find it is too weak, add a bit more Sal Suds. The issue is, any leftover bubbles will be very obvious on windows, and they will attract dirt, making your windows get dirty faster. So, use the lowest dilution that gets the job done.

    Happy cleaning!

  4. Just a quick question regarding the essential oil aspect of cleaning- the fun (!) part. How is it that you can choose which essential oil to use for cleaning when your base castile soap is already going to be scented? For example, if you have a big bottle of the Lavender castile let’s say- can you really decide to use a tea tree essential oil by adding it in? Or a rosemary, or lemon, or eucalyptus oil? It seems like you do not have too much of a choice of oils other than the one that is already used in your castile base soap. Am I missing something here??! Thank you

  5. Hi Hailey – You have a couple of options. First off, when you dilute the soap in a spray bottle, the essential oils in the soap are diluted also and so you may want a stronger scent which adding your own would provide. Also, some essential oils blend really nicely together. For example, adding a touch of lavender to the citrus is nice, or adding lemon to the eucalyptus. However, if you really want to brew your own scent, start with our unscented Baby Mild and go to town!

    All the best,

  6. Does this harm plants in the garden? I have shrubs I don’t want to die if I wash them with the house after I use this. Thanks

  7. Lovely video! I’m not into cleaning windows at all but I have to do it and I’m doing it. We just moved to an old Victorian style house and I’m almost finished with the fall cleaning, few things are left only, including windows. Your suggestions on cleaning glass are great and seem to work very good for the outside glass surfaces. Thanks for the useful recipe!

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