Do it yourself!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How To Clean Windows Like A Pro

      This article is primarily for new construction, but it can be utilized for existing home too… It’s just less difficult on existing homes.

Come Prepared With the Following Tools

  1. Single edged razor blades with a holder. Caution: always close it when not in use. Change razors after each window to avoid scratching the
    the windows. Never use razor blades on mirrors or mirror tinted windows.
Using a razor blade is a little scary at first. Just be very careful not to cut
    yourself or not to scratch the metal frames or the window. You will get the hang of it and be able to slide right down the edges, even using your other hand
    to do the other side.
  2. Window cleaner (Windex). Have at least 2 bottles, one full strength for finishing and one diluted solution with 1/2 water to 1/2 window cleaner.
  3. Old wash rags or towels
  4. Old torn up sheets for buffing. Tip: you can use newspapers for buffing, just be careful not to rub white painted areas that surround the

  5. Scrub brush to clean window sills and frames.
  6. Small canister vacuum. Try to remove as much dirt, dust and build-up as possible before getting windows wet.
  7. Step Ladder for the outside windows.

Tips Before Starting
  1. Never clean windows in direct sunlight. Doing this can cause streaking and dries too fast.
  2. Wear pants with front and back pockets. These are handy for hanging your tools. (Jeans work great)
  3. Place a towel or sheet under the window close to the baseboards to avoid getting carpet or wood wet.
  4. Start with cleaning the inside first.
  5. If there is a chance that mortar could be on the window, keep the window very wet when scraping and make sure it is all removed before
      wiping clean or buffing.


Cleaning The Window

Now you are ready to begin. The mud comes off easy if you spray it liberally with a weakened window cleaner, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Remove the mud by gently scraping it with your razor blade.  After removing the mud, clean it up or you will have a gummy mess in the end. Use your scrub brush to remove the remaining mud on the frames.

Most new windows will have a light to heavy spray of paint on them. If oil based paint is on the window, it should be scraped off dry. It will take a little time and care not to scratch the window. After doing one or two windows, you will be a pro at it.

Hopefully the windows will only have a light spray of water based paint. In this case, spray the windows with the watered down mixture. Start scraping with your blade from top to bottom wiping up as you go with an absorbent towel. After it is scraped, spray it down again and vigorously scrub it with a clean absorbent towel. Thoroughly clean your blade or replace it at this time.

Raise your window and spray the sill to loosen dried on mortar or mud. If you have mortar, soak it a few minutes, then you can use the handle of your closed blade holder to tap the mortar a few times and it will come up without the need to scrape. Mortar and razors are not a good combination. It is not advised to scrape mortar with a razor. Use a screwdriver or a putty knife, but be careful not to scratch the metal. Spray and wash out the sills, then buff dry. If you run into mortar on the windows, you can scrape it with the razor, but be gentle and use full strength cleaner to keep it wet. Carefully wipe you blade frequently. Go in a downward direction with you razor blade, never back and forth or up and down. The mortar will scratch the window. Now close your window.

Starting with the inside window, use the full strength cleaner to spray. Clean it with a clean absorbent towel. Then buff the window streak free with a clean sheet or a news paper.

For cleaning the outside windows you will need everything you used inside and a sturdy step ladder. Hint- tie a small trash bag on a belt loop to keep soiled towels together. Spray the entire window liberally with the weakened mixture. Scrub all around the frames with the scrub brush. Be sure the window stays wet when scraping. After scraping your window, spray it liberally with the diluted mixture. Clean with a dry towel. Spray lightly with the full strength solution and buff dry. Remember: Towels for cleaning, Sheets for buffing.

After doing a few windows you will be able to distinguish spots on the inside from spots on the outside. This will help you avoid going in and out unnecessarily.

I cleaned new houses for many years.  Windows are half of the job. It paid very well and I was in great shape as a result! Read my upcoming article on cleaning new homes from trashing out to touching up.


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