How to Clean Windows Without Streaks

We know that washing windows is rarely at the top of anyone’s favorite chore list. But whether you have new Weather Tight windows or hope to keep your older windows well-maintained, regular washing can help them look their best.

But cleaning windows without leaving streaks is a challenge. Here are a few tips for keeping your home’s glass looking sharp and clear!

A young woman uses a spray bottle and cloth to clean her home's kitchen windows. She's wearing yellow rubber cleaning gloves.

Why Do Windows Get Dirty?

For our replacement window customers all across Southeastern Wisconsin, window maintenance is a relatively simple job. Weather Tight windows require very little upkeep to look their best. Most styles open inward for easy cleaning and touchups, too!

But even the newest and very top-of-the-line windows can get pretty dirty. Clear glass, combined with outside moisture, dust, and debris, needs a regular wash. Cleaning your windows will keep them spruced up and looking their best.

In Milwaukee, we can get gnarly storms when precipitation blows in across Lake Michigan. In the springtime, dust and pollen can also take up residence on your window glass. It’s a good idea to wash your dirty windows several times a year—at least once a season.

If you have kiddos and pets, you may notice a few marks on the inside of the windows, too. Little handprints and damp noses can leave little marks on your glass. As charming as they are, you’ll likely want to clean the inside of the windows. Kitchen and bathroom windows can also accumulate more dust and grime due to moisture in the air from cooking and showering. Keep things fresh with a regular wipe-down.

We’ve all washed a window before, only to look at it a few hours later and realize that it’s streaky, filmy, or there are spots left behind. If you’re wondering how to get streak-free windows easily, here’s what you need to know. We promise that once you get going with the right techniques, it’s even a little fun (or at least a satisfying weekend chore).

How to Clean Windows without Leaving Streaks

For streak-free window cleaning, time should always be on your side. In other words, pick the right time of day, especially for washing the outside of the windows. Choose a pleasant, cloudy day, one without direct sunlight. In the heat of a very sunny day, windows can dry too quickly, leaving behind telltale streaks.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Once you’ve picked the right day and decided to tackle your windows, you’ll need to gather a few supplies. Like any home maintenance job, the right tools make a big difference. You’ll need:

  • A squeegee with a sharp rubber blade
  • A bucket with a cleaning solution (a teaspoon of dish soap in a bucket of water works well; alternatively, equal parts white vinegar and water also work)
  • Commercial window cleaning spray, if preferred
  • A scrubber or sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • A garden hose or a bucket of rinse water
  • Lint-free cloths or microfiber towels
  • Two clean, dry towels

Step 2: Pre-Clean the Window

The best way to get spotless windows is to pre-clean dirt from the window frames, window screens, and glass surfaces. If you’re working on ground-floor windows, you’ll want to wipe off any visible dirt, dust, or grime. Begin by rinsing them with a garden hose from the outdoors. Remove any stuck-on dust, cobwebs, or dirt from the window frame and window sill using a rag or damp cloth and soapy water.

Step 3: Apply the Cleaning Solution to Your Windows

Dip a scrubber or sponge in the cleaning solution. Apply it to the glass windows, covering the surface. Work from the top of the window down.

If your windows open to the inside, you can put down a towel beneath the window to protect the floor. Open the window towards you, use a spray bottle of window cleaner (one made specifically for glass) to clean the window, and then quickly wipe it down with a microfiber towel.

Step 4: Squeegee the Window

To clean windows from the outside, you’ll start at the top of the wet window. Drag a squeegee across the window horizontally. Work quickly to remove the water.

For the best results, keep your squeegee blade clean. With each pass of the blade, you’ll wipe it off using a clean, dry towel. Remove any excess water or dirt. Overlap each of the horizontal strokes by about an inch so you don’t miss any areas.

Step 5: Wipe the Window Edges

By now, your exterior windows should be looking pretty clean. You’ll need to use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe any remaining drips from the edges of your window. If you notice streaks, buff them out with the dry part of your lint-free cloth.

Step 6: Clean the Inside Too

Don’t neglect the inside of your windows. Use a glass cleaning spray, vinegar solution, or soap to wash. Wipe down each window from the inside, working from the top down. Follow behind with a microfiber cloth, buffing the glass with a circular motion. You’ll get a streak-free, crystal-clear window that will make you proud!

Some folks prefer paper towels for cleaning windows, but they can often leave behind lint and residue. If you want a truly streak-free finish, microfiber is your best bet. Old newspapers can also create a streak-free shine, but many newspapers with color print may leave behind ink residue on your windows.

Cleaning Windows Up High

What about second-story windows? We don’t recommend getting up on a ladder without taking plenty of precautions. Use the buddy system, and never go up too far to clean windows. Weather Tight windows open from the inside, making cleaning a breeze. It’s much safer than perching on a ladder!

However, if you need to clean second-story windows, there are a few tips to help you stay safe.

  • Use an Extendable Tool: Use a squeegee and washer with a long handle that allows you to stay on the ground. Telescopic window cleaning poles can be extended several feet. Some even offer water-fed cleaning solution.
  • Always Follow Ladder Safety: As mentioned, enlist a friend to spot you on the ladder. Keep your body centered between the rails, and move the ladder without extending your reach.
  • Follow Cleaning Solution Instructions: Carefully read the instructions on the cleaning product if you use a water-fed pole system. The manufacturer may suggest purified or distilled water to help you avoid streaks and water spots. Spotting can happen with hard water.

Cleaning second-story windows (and higher) may be a job best left to professional window cleaners, but it should be done at least a few times per year.

If you’re looking for windows that are easy to clean and maintain, look no further than Weather Tight. Many of our windows are easy and safe to clean. You may even be able to expand the size of your windows to let in more light and get better streak-free views.

At Weather Tight, we’re proud to help Wisconsin homeowners with all their home remodeling needs. If your windows have seen better days (and you’re ready for a lower maintenance option), reach out today!