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 address cleaning the interiors of windows and mirrors in this blog post.

A summary of supplies I mention in the video:

  • 2 spray bottles: One with the All-Purpose Spray made of 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Sal Suds diluted in a quart (1 L) 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 option: While I usually opt for Sal Suds, you can also use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap in the All-Purpose Spray with 1/4 c. (60 mL) Castile Soap in a quart (1 L) of water for your spray bottle.

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pam says:

these directions are vague. So I get the dilution. Are you saying spray the castile diluion first. Then wash it with a micro fiber clothe then spray the club soda solution and squeegee it off? You lose me there.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Pam- Cleaning with Castile Soap or Sal Suds dilution first cleans the glass of dust and dirt, while the club soda spray cleans for streaks. Where I live, the exterior windows get pretty dusty and grimy so I follow a two-step process: Spray with the Castile dilution then squeegee and wipe clean, follow with a spray of club soda (or half vinegar/half water solution) and squeegee. If your windows don’t need step one, skip straight to the club soda.

Debbie Miller says:

Hi Lisa,
Regarding the squeegee. Can you provide the name of the brand that you use? You said that you get what you pay for. I completely agree. Were you using an Unger Professional Steel Squeegee? Or another brand. I searched for squeegees with a blue handle like the one you’re using in the video. The closest match I found was an Ettore All-Purpose Squeegee, but the price seemed too low for what you described.
Thank you for your informative video. I can’t wait to see the outside world through clean windows!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Debbie- The world looks so much better through clean windows, doesn’t it? Truthfully, I have no idea what brand of squeegee to recommend. I do recall purchasing mine from a home improvement store. Pick one with a rubber tip. It will not necessarily be the prettiest option, but it will work well.

Going green with shampoo | Simply Mimi says:

[…] more time to windows later (one of the things I actually really enjoy cleaning), but briefly, for dirty exterior windows, spray them with my Castile soap solution, wipe them with a chamois, then spray them with vinegar […]

Cleaning Interior Windows and Mirrors says:

[…] you tried out my method to clean exterior windows, I have great news for you. Cleaning interior windows and mirrors is simpler. Since interior glass […]

Amanda says:

Does this work on hard water stains? My windows have permanent water stains that will not come off.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Amanda – This method won’t create new water spots, but it may not be enough to remove the existing ones. As you may know, hard water deposits are caused by the minerals in your water. When a surface gets wet and the water evaporates, these minerals are left behind. Because they are alkali, you need an acid to dissolve them. Vinegar can do the trick here. Start with a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle (you can adjust the solution if your spots are exceedingly stubborn), spray on and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a microfiber or similarly bumpy sort of cloth soaked in vinegar and water to rub off the water stains. You may need to repeat this or let the vinegar soak for a few minutes. Alternatively, use a paste of vinegar and baking soda (these two will harmlessly bubble when combined), which is an abrasive, to scrub off the water spots, then rinse windows clean. With either method, be sure to dry your windows thoroughly to prevent further spotting.

Mameha says:

Loving these videos, thank you!

I’ve heard you can use Castille soap with water and rubbing alcohol to make a screenwash solution for your car windscreen. Perhaps you can do some testing and make a recipe and video for that in future. I’m going to try it when my current screenwash runs out.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mameha – I’m glad you’re enjoying them! Combining alcohol with the soap at about a 5% volume can help, but more than that doesn’t. So, that means, for example, about 1 tsp. of alcohol per cup of soap.

Harmony says:

I just used this trick on my windows and they are gleaming beautifully! Used vinegar in the place of club soda (or soda water where I come from) and the results speak for themselves. I wish I took a before shot to compare the difference. Washing windows will no longer be a chore! Thanks Lisa! 😉

Ruth Gray says:

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!

Debbie says:

How would you recommend cleaning windows that are hard to reach without using a ladder?

Lorraine says:

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

Lisa Bronner says:

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,

Hailey says:

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

Lisa Bronner says:

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!

Rosemary says:

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?

Lisa Bronner says:

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,

Tom says:

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

Lisa Bronner says:

@ 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,


Lisa Bronner

Green means life. “Going Green” is living in such a way to promote vitality and vibrancy in every sphere of life. Grab an idea to make your days healthier, simpler, and more beautiful at their core.