Store-bought formula or home-mixed variety? Spray directly on the surface - or not? Paper towels, squeegee or cloth rags? Much like the paper-or-plastic debate, the best strategy for buffing clean the dozens of windows and glass surfaces in your home isn't crystal clear.
The pros do it by squeegee, wiping clean their usually secret formula with a cotton cloth. Some homeowners use the big guns-brands such as Windex, Glass Plus or SOS - wiped clean with paper towels.
Others prefer home-mixed brews using combinations of vinegar, lemon, ammonia and dishwashing liquid, polished to perfection with balled-up newspapers. So, which is best?
The clear winner - if you want cleaner windows cheaper, that is - is a creative mix of the above: a homemade cleaner, a squeegee and cloth rag; polished to perfection with a piece of newspaper.
It's inexpensive, effective and, best of all, our extra-sparkle recipe takes just moments per surface.
Of course, there's the right way to clean glass (or anything for that matter), and then there's the easy way. After all, who always has time to do the full cleaning routine? Let's take a look at each:
To do this dirty job right, start by vacuuming (with a brush and crevice attachment, please) inside panes and sills. After all, what's the use of making your windows sparkle if they reflect the crud below?
Next, pick your potion. If you're devoted to labels - such as Windex, Glass Plus and more - it's time to read the writing on the windows: This is one expense you can cut without sacrificing performance.
Home-brew recipes often perform as well or better than their brand name counterparts in major studies, completed by leading organizations such as Consumer Reports.
In fact, even plain tap water equaled or bested many store-bought brands in testing. For a fraction of the cost. Save your bucks for the labels that matter - like laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners.
You need the added brightening and/or disinfecting power the lab-mixed products provide - something home remedies can't.
Here's a lemon-cleaner recipe for lightly soiled windows: Mix 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a gallon of water. This blend works especially well for those greasy kid prints. Or, try the equally effective vinegar variety: 1/4 cup vinegar in 3 cups warm water. It's terrific for quick and thorough cleaning of medium soils.
For serious grime, try an extra-strength ammonia formula: 1/2 cup ammonia, 1 pint rubbing alcohol and 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid. Add enough warm water to make a gallon.
Whichever recipe you use, the next step is the same. Mix in a generous-size (gallon or larger) spray bottle, then lightly mist a clean, lint-free rag. (Use lint-free cotton or terry, a 100 percent cotton diaper or a cleaning cloth.) Don't tackle this chore on a sunny day, please - this will increase your work by increasing the streaks.
Rub the solution across the pane, starting at the top and working your way down. The goal is to loosen surface dirt so you can whisk it away. Be sure to wipe the sills of any drips. Starting from the top, pull the squeegee blade straight down, wiping the squeegee on a second dry, clean cloth.
Work your way across the pane, slightly overlapping each stroke. Finish with a triumphant single stroke across the bottom.
For extra sparkle, polish the surface when it's nearly dry with a piece of newspaper. The ink used in some papers may smudge the glass when it's wet, so try this first in a small area before buffing the entire surface.
Now that you can do it right - here's how to do it fast: Put a capful of ammonia or a quick squirt of hand dishwashing detergent into your handy spray bottle. Add warm water. Mist glass and buff dry from top to bottom with balled-up newspaper.
To keep your window sparkling between cleanings, use a cloth or paper towel dampened with your glass cleaner of choice to buff away surface smudges and fingerprints.
You can use the same techniques for thorough and and quick cleanings of all glass and mirrored surfaces in your home - from glass picture frames and decorative glass block to glass tables and medicine cabinets. (Of course, you can skip the squeegee step on smaller surface areas.)
Now, is that crystal clear?
Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the window cleaning products and tools you need to get the job done right - and streak-free!