Hiring a window cleaner gets expensive fast. Not every homeowner has the budget for regular cleaning. But without attention, your windows will begin to look grubby inside and out, and you may miss vital signs of damage.
There’s only one solution: you’ve got to clean your own windows, and you need to do it affordably without putting yourself at risk. Climbing around on the outside of a building is never a good idea. So how do you do a pro job on a budget?
1. Avoid Abrasive Window Cleaning
First things first: never scrub a dirty window. Elbow grease is a good thing, sure, but the dirt may be more problematic than you think.
Windows collect surprisingly large chunks of grime, and if left uncleaned during bad weather, a surprising amount of external dirt can build up. If you neglect your cleaning regime, you might find that the glass becomes coated with abrasive, grainy dirt, and that will do some serious damage if you scrub it.
Don’t forget: it’s not just about the glass. You may also damage the seals.
To remove dirt, you should be looking to create the minimum amount of friction. It’s best to tackle the worst of the problem without reaching for a sponge or cloth.
Soapy water applied liberally to the window will remove the worst of the dirt, but you’ll be left with smaller particles. That’s where a steam cleaner can help. Steam cleaners lift dirt away without contact, helping to loosen abrasive grime with zero friction. All you have to do is wipe it away.
When shopping for a steam cleaner, look for one that can be converted into a multi-purpose mop. Some brands include special window cleaning attachments that can help make the job easier. In particular, look for a squeegee-type attachment that smoothly draws away dirty water as you apply the steam.
2. Use a Detergent Alternative on Windows
Often, dish detergent makes an effective window cleaner. But it can leave the glass streaky, and if you don’t invest in professional tools, it may not be the best choice for a gleaming finish.
If you’re sick of streaks, try a weak white vinegar or ammonia solution instead. Dilute either half and half with clean water. Should the glass show signs of streaks from the last clean, a squirt of detergent will help to remove it.
While vinegar and ammonia may not smell too pleasant, both do an admirable job on glass. What’s more, neither will damage the frames, assuming you’re gentle, and the smell will fade quickly if you leave the window open.
3. Access the Outside Safely
If you’re lucky enough to have ’tilt and turn’ windows, you’ll be able to clean the outside of the window easily. If you don’t, you’ll have to get creative.
By ‘get creative’, we don’t mean you should overstretch while using a ladder, or balance precariously on someone’s shoulders. Don’t be tempted to hang out of the window, stand on the ledge or cobble together a makeshift abseiling kit.
Instead, consult your window manufacturer and find out how to take the windows off their hinges. Most modern frames are designed to be dismantled in this way.
Remember: window frames are heavy. Get help, particularly when you’re putting a slippery, wet window frame back on its fittings.
The result of your hard work will be windows that gleam and shine for weeks to come.
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