How to Clean Your Windows Effectively – with Vinegar


When it comes to cleaning your windows, distilled vinegar – also called white vinegar – is the perfect solution for those looking for a streak-free shine. A natural deodorizer and sanitizer, vinegar is likely already a resident in your pantry. Give it a break from the kitchen and put it to the test on windshields, windows and mirrors to see just how powerful it is in combating dirt and grime.

Armed with a bottle of the clear liquid and these eight tips, it may just be that you never go back to store-bought cleaners again.

1. Perfect Solution

The first step to treating your windows with vinegar is to make the solution you will use for a natural, streak-less clean. You can use equal parts white vinegar and water, adjusting the amount of vinegar depending on how dirty your windows are. Add more vinegar for a tougher dirt-fighting agent, or distill the mixture with more water for a smaller cleaning job. Warming the water is also a good idea when battling especially dirty spots.

If you have never used vinegar to clean your windows before, you may need to add a drop or two of dish soap to help combat the waxy residue left on surfaces by commercial cleaning products. Each cleaning will remove more of the wax – helping to eliminate streaks – until you find you no longer need to add the soap to your solution.

2. Tools on hand

For the best cleaning outcome, ensure you have the right window-washing tools at your fingertips. For small surfaces, you may only need a spray bottle and cloth for wiping. Large or high windows may require more supplies, however, such as sponges, a squeegee with an extension pole or even a ladder. Having everything you need ready to go will help ensure the job is done quickly. This is especially important because the sooner the vinegar is cleaned off after application, the better the end result

3. Time of day

Choose a time of day for cleaning when the sun is not beating down on your windows. The heat from the sun’s rays can dry the solution once it has been applied to the windows, leaving a residue. To avoid streaks, choose a time when the surroundings are shady and cool, making it easier to quickly wipe the solution away with a cloth.

4. Prep first

Before vinegar can work its magic on your windows, it’s important to set the stage for its performance. Prep your windows first by wiping away any cobwebs or dirt with a cloth or brush. This will help ensure dust and other residue doesn’t lift up while cleaning, and will give you a cleaner cleaning experience.

5. Dispenser Duty

How you plan on dispensing the solution will depend on the size and soil level of the surface you are cleaning. Different sizes of spray bottles can be picked up inexpensively at dollar stores, and are great for small jobs, such as bathroom mirrors, glass tabletops and the smaller windows around your home. They’re also handy when cleaning the inside of windows, as the spray can be easily and accurately directed to just the window, lessening the chance of surrounding items getting soaked by vinegar.
For large surfaces or exterior windows, it may be more efficient to fill a tub or bucket with the cleaning solution. This will allow you to thoroughly soak a sponge in the vinegar, and apply large amounts at one time. This is a good method for outdoor jobs such as vehicle windshields, as there is no need to contain potential spray or splashing.

6. All in the Stroke

Believe it or not, there are window wiping methods that are preferred for their streak-free results. For the best cleaning outcome, apply the solution to your window and wipe in downward, vertical lines. Start in the top left corner of the window, and pull the squeegee or cloth all the way down the left edge of the window. Then, return to the top and make another downward swipe, slightly overlapping the first one. Repeat until the entire window has been cleaned in parallel columns.

For larger windows, it may be more effective to clean in a zigzag formation, starting in an upper corner and wiping straight across the top of the window. Once you reach the end, pull down and wipe straight across in the other direction, slightly overlapping the first stroke.

Not only do these pre-planned-wiping strategies work to eliminate streaks, but they also help ensure the entire window is cleaned and you don’t accidentally miss any spots.

7. Wipe worries away

Another consideration when wiping the solution from your windows is what material you will use to do so.

While paper towels are effective, they can be wasteful and aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. Crumpled newspaper is preferred by many, as it doesn’t leave streaks and provides ridges for scraping away dirt and residue. However, some bypass this option because it can leave your fingers black with ink.

Any lint-free towel will be effective in getting a clear, clean look, and squeegees are especially useful for large surfaces. Ensure to use them right after cleaning with the solution, so it doesn’t have a chance to dry and leave residue.

After wiping, use a microfiber cloth to thoroughly dry your windows to help further prevent streaks.

8. Label and Store

While making the vinegar cleaning solution is already quick and easy, you don’t necessarily need to make a fresh batch every time you clean. Simply label your spray bottle and store it in a cool, dry place away from pets and children. Having a bottle readily available will make it easier to clean spots with a quick spray-and-wipe as they appear on windows, rather than doing a full-scale clean when you can no longer see through them.

Cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey. And by using simple household items such as vinegar on your windows, you’re sure to feel safe knowing you haven’t exposed your family to harmful chemicals, while also enjoying its spotless results.

Kristyl Clark