Tip 1 – Ditch The Chemicals
Whatever the commercials say, there’s no need to rush to the store to get your hands on the latest window cleaning chemical solutions. Whatever the scientists at the cleaning product companies come up with, you can be sure it’s going to be a lot more expensive and a bunch more toxic than this simple recipe that harks back to the simple cleaning methods of our grandparents.
To make a natural, effective window cleaning solution, just mix a pint of water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. To help counteract the smell of the vinegar, add 10-20 drops of essential oil. Tea tree oil will give your windows an aroma of cleanliness and will also assist with its antibacterial properties. Other antibacterial options include lavender, oregano, geranium and lemon, which can be found at your local health store. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to find your favorite blend.
You might be surprised to find white vinegar in a cleaning solution. Vinegar is a weak acid formed through fermented sugar or starch. Its acidic properties are what give it its cleaning power, helping you to cut through chemicals, dirt and grime with ease. Its other advantages include its non-toxic nature, which means that even kids can help you clean the windows without fear of accidents, spills or ingestion, and its price. Considerably cheaper than chemical cleaners, you may gain even better value for money by purchasing it in bulk. Diluting the vinegar with water, as in this cleaning recipe, cuts costs even further.
Pour this mixture into a spray bottle. You can use plastic, but the glass variety is preferable for its non-toxic qualities. You can then spray it directly on to the windows and use just as you would use any chemical cleaner, without any worries of streaking.
Tip 2 – Go Microfiber
Streaks left on windows are as a result of chemicals and chemical compounds that we have not been able to successfully remove with regular cloths and cleaning materials. Add to that the problem of lint and cleaning windows can become a frustrating exercise. Switching to microfiber cloths will eliminate both these problems.
Microfiber cloths have become a must-have for those who are serious about getting their houses clean. The superior cleaning power of microfiber comes from its structure – densely compacted polyester and nylon fibers that are many times thinner than a single human hair.
When these fibers are woven together, they create a miniscule web of nooks and crannies that traps dirt, dust, moisture and debris. Enhancing its cleaning power, the nylon creates a static charge that attracts and retains dirt inside the web of fibers. This makes microfiber cloths 4 times more effective than an ordinary cloth.
Though a little more expensive than regular cleaning cloths, microfiber options have a much longer lifespan and many people see the benefit of investing a little more to reap the benefits of their enhanced cleaning power.
Yet the advantages don’t stop there. Microfiber is incredibly absorbent, able to soak up over 7 times its own weight in liquid. This proves its versatility and cements its place as a kitchen staple. Not only that, it dries three times more quickly than a regular cloth.
The tiny crevices that allow microfiber cloths to pick up all kinds of dirt and debris also have antibacterial power. A scientific study found that while a traditional mop only reduced the bacteria on a floor by 30%, a clean using a microfiber mop slashed the bacteria count on the floor by 99%. Microfiber is so effective that you can do away with chemicals altogether.
Some may be concerned that microfiber cloths harbor bacteria and dirt due to their superior dirt-trapping abilities, but this fear is unfounded. A warm to hot wash will open up the fibers and release all dirt and debris into the water.
Tip 3 – Check Your Water
Another culprit that causes streaking is water additives. In most parts of the world, our tap water can be heavily treated with chemicals for a variety of reasons. These chemical residues are transferred to our windows as we clean them and cause annoying water marks and streaks. Various minerals can also cause problems.
This is particularly relevant to those who have hard water flowing from their taps, water which has percolated through limestone, chalk, dolomite or other magnesium and calcium-rich minerals.
When we make our vinegar-water mixture, it’s imperative that we use the right type of water if we want streak-free cleanliness. The best option is to use filtered or distilled water because it is free of minerals and chemicals, or at least carries lower amounts than water straight out of the tap.
Tip 4 – Break Down The Chemical Residue
Even after changing your cleaning habits and regimens, you might be dismayed to find streaks ruining the look of your just-cleaned windows. Don’t despair! It can take a while to attain the elusive ideal of streak-free windows, because chemical residues from previous commercial window cleaning products can remain on the windows for some time after you make the switch.
If you have windows full of stubborn streaks, give an intensive vinegar wash a try. Heat up full-strength white vinegar in a pan on the stove, or in the microwave, until it is quite warm. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the warm vinegar to the windows in small amounts and scrub until clear. Repeat this every few days until the chemical residue is gone. To test, carry out a regular vinegar-water mix wash and check if the windows still streak. If they do, revert to an intensive vinegar wash every few days until they are streak-free.
For an-depth guide to accompany this one on how to clean windows without streaks, see this article from This Old House.