How to clean windows: 6 simple steps to a sparkling finish

Create the perfect vista with our window cleaning tips

Love the spring sunshine but less impressed with it shining a light on your dirty windows? You’re not alone.

There’s something so satisfying about perfectly clean windows – but they aren’t always the easiest thing to achieve. Even with dedicated spraying and scrubbing, it can be tough to remove every smear or dirt mark.

Are your windows displaying more streaks than sunshine?Credit: Shutterstock/V.Classen
Are your windows displaying more streaks than sunshine?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Follow our six easy steps for exceptionally clean windows that will shine as much as the rest of your home.


1. Start by vacuuming

Clean before you clean

It’s not just the panes of glass that need cleaning on your windows. Dust, pet hair and dirt can all end up finding a resting place on your window frames and need to be removed first.

Why? “If you dust these after you’ve cleaned the window panes you could undo all your hard work,” says Henry Paterson, cleaning expert at Housekeep.

Make sure you clean the frames Credit: Shutterstock/I Like it Yellow
Make sure you clean the frames

For a thorough clean, open your windows, and dust or vacuum around the edges, frames and sills to remove any debris. The last thing you want is to fling open a newly cleaned window to let in the fresh air in only for exterior dirt to land on your gleaming glass.

Be prepared

Place a towel on the floor underneath the window before you start to use any type of liquid on your windows. As well as preventing water damage to your floor, it will ensure there are no risks of slipping on wet puddles.

2. Avoid cleaning when it’s sunny

It’s the best way to avoid streaks

Although the sun doesn’t contain much heat in the spring, remember that during the summer months that a sunny day isn’t the best one for cleaning windows. Although the bright light will show you where the streaks are, you’ll potentially end up creating even more of them. If the sun dries your preferred cleaning solution too quickly – you’ve guessed – it will cause streaks.

Either wait for a slightly cloudier day or until the evening when the sun emits less heat.

3. Scrub using a cloth

Make microfibre your friend

Although we often wonder what we did before the days of the microfibre cloth, they’re our go-to staple for window cleaning – as well as the rest of the home.

Even though newspaper or brown paper were traditionally touted as the best materials for creating a streak free finish, we’re not so convinced. Unless you’re a conscientious recycler, it’s also not the most ecological way to clean windows.

Instead, we prefer to use a damp microfibre cloth that’s been dipped into a solution of water and a drop of washing up liquid. Paterson also says to remember: “less is more when it comes to product. Using too much window cleaner can lead to streaky windows.”

Use a microfibre cloth for a streak free finishCredit: Shutterstock/Budimir Jevtic
Use a microfibre cloth for a streak free finish

Technique is key. “What’s most important when you start is to be thorough, getting right into the corners and edges,” says Paterson as these are often the dirtiest and dustiest edges. Windows can also come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to make sure that you don’t leave any of the surface untouched.

4. Treat stubborn stains with vinegar

It’s an effective and eco-friendly approach

For more stubborn stains, try a solution of white water or cider vinegar with water. Usually made by combining equal parts of vinegar to water, we’d also add a spot of washing up liquid.

The eco-friendly experts at Purdy & Figg agree with this approach. “We love this method for glass cleaning because it involves natural products. Mix a few tablespoons of white vinegar with a couple of drops of dish soap in a trigger spray bottle. Then fill the bottle with warm water and shake the mixture so it is well mixed. Spray and wipe away with a microfibre cloth.”

Buy microfibre cloths from Amazon for just £7.99 for a pack of 10

5. Large windows? Remove the excess water

It’s time to grab a squeegee

If you’ve got large expanses of glass such as patio doors, or modern single paned windows, you have the option of using a squeegee – often the preferred tool of choice for professional window cleaners. Pick one with an extendable pole to save you having to stand on a ladder or stool.

Buy a professional window cleaning kit including squeegee from Amazon

A common technique with squeegees is to use a fan like method, working across the window horizontally, but a word of caution. Unless your technique is super slick, you’re likely to end up with more water puddles on the floor than when you use a cloth.

6. Buff with a dry cloth

Best approach for paned or smaller windows

While it makes more sense to work across the window in horizontal stripes, it will also depend on the shape of your window frames. When there are curves involved, you will have no choice but to adopt a more circular method.

The ultimate goal is streak free, so buff until you have achieved a streak free vista that will be the envy of your guests.

older couple cleaning outside of windowsCredit: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevyck
Make your windows the envy of your guests

Tip: if you are cleaning the inside and outside of your windows at the same time, wipe horizontally on the inside and vertically on the outside. That way you’ll be able to see more clearly on which side there any stubborn remaining streaks.

If cleaning the outside of your windows involves using ladders at height, always consider using a professional. Ask neighbours and friends who they recommend, or visit an online resource such as Rated People to find one in your area.

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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