How to Clean Windows: Tips and Tricks from the Experts

While it’s not a glamorous job, cleaning windows is an important part of home maintenance. And it can be a quick and easy process if you have the right tools and the right tips to get you going.

Whether it’s been six, 12 or 18 months since you last broke out your window-cleaning supplies, it’s never too late to get the job done. (Although we do recommend cleaning windows twice a year!)

We know windows and we know what it takes to make them look good. So, we've compiled our favorite tips and tricks to help you keep your windows looking great for years.

What You Need

  • Soft, lint-free towel (e.g. cloth diaper, old kitchen towel, linen napkins or a made-for-glass microfiber cloth)
  • Vinegar-based cleaning solution (see recipe below)
  • Nonabrasive cleaner
  • Soap and water
  • Vacuum with soft brush and drapery attachments

Recipe for Glass Cleaner

If you choose to make your own cleaner, try this simple glass cleaner recipe: Mix one cup white vinegar with 10 cups of water. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture, and store leftover cleaner in a jug for future use.

Or if you prefer a ready-made, ammonia-free glass cleaner, try Pella™ Window and Glass Cleaner.

How to Clean Windows - Dining Room Window

Dining Room Windows

How to Clean Windows and Doors

  • Follow the manufacturer's directions and any warnings while using the window cleaner.
  • Cleaning in direction sunlight or while window glass is hot can be more challenging. If the cleaning solution dries too quickly, it can cause streaking and leave behind a film that attracts dirt and dust.
  • Use a premixed vinegar-based cleaner, or make your own using the recipe above.
  • Use horizontal and vertical motions to wipe away the cleaner with a soft, lint-free towel. Wipe up cleaner promptly. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations and warnings when using these products.
  • If streaks remain after cleaning, rinse with clear water and rub with a separate dry cloth.
  • Use ammonia-free products like Pella™ Window and Glass Cleaner to make windows shine.
    • Tip: Cleaning windows from inside the home is safer than standing on a ladder outside. Consider Pella® replacement windows with a tilt-in feature (double-hung) or extra-wide openings between the sash and frame (casement) for easy access and cleaning from safely inside your home.

A small child licking a wooden spoon is getting chocolate handprints on the sliding patio door making it necessary to clean


Spot-Cleaning Stubborn Areas On Glass

  • To remove marks and smudges, apply a small amount of nonabrasive cleaner, like Bar Keepers Friend® (SerVaas Laboratories), to a clean, wet cloth. Or apply a solvent like acetone or mineral spirits to a clean, dry, lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • Rub on the areas of glass that need spot-cleaning. Avoid getting cleansers or solvents on the wood, fiberglass or vinyl frames as they may discolor the finish.
  • Wipe clean, using a clean, dry lint-free cloth.
  • Clean the entire glass surface as explained in the previous section.
    • Tip: Never use a razor blade to scrape off stubborn materials, and use care if using a squeegee. Doing so may leave permanent marks on the glass or scratches that could cause glass breakage.

How to Clean Window or Door Screens

  • To remove dust and dirt from screens, simply vacuum them with an upholstery brush attachment.
  • For grease spots – typically found in kitchen screens – use a sponge, hot water and a mild detergent.
  • For a flat screen, like those found on a window, storm door or patio door, remove the screen and wash with soap and water. Rinse and repeat as needed to clean. Or use a drapery brush attachment on a vacuum. Remember to be gentle, as aluminum screens can bend very easily.

Three windows with wood blinds in a classicly decorated living room

Wooden Blinds

How to Clean Blinds and Shades

  • For wood blinds, regular dusting will maintain a like-new appearance. When deeper cleaning is needed, vacuum gently with the soft brush attachment.
  • For plastic or metal blinds, immerse blinds in a tub of lukewarm water and mild detergent. Rinse with clear water, and let air-dry before reinstalling.
  • For fabric blinds or shades, use a vacuum cleaner with a drapery brush attachment to remove dust. Use a damp cloth to remove smudges, fingerprints, etc.

Hate cleaning blinds and shades? Learn more about Pella® Designer Series® between-the-glass window treatments, which feature blinds that are protected from dust and dirt.

This article was written by

A self-proclaimed Social Media Geek and DIY aficionado, Nicolle is a member of the Pella Marketing team, focused on content creation and curation. In her free time she can be found pillaging thrift shops for furniture projects, attempting to rationalize with her 4 year old daughter, and editing her husband’s honey-do list.