When it comes to getting your windows clean, should you use a store-bought formula or use a home-mixed variety?
Should you spray your cleaner of choice directly on the surface - or not?
Paper towels, squeegee, or cloth rags? Much like the paper-or-plastic debate, the best strategy for getting windows clean isn't crystal clear.
The pros use a squeegee, wiping clean their usually secret formula with a cotton cloth.
Some of us use the big gun-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.
Which cleaning methods work best? Here's a look at each.
The best way to clean windows combines elements used by window-cleaning pros and home-mix aficionados. It's inexpensive, effective, and - best of all - this 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.
But now and then, you should schedule a little extra time to give your windows a deep cleaning treatment so that you can get by with quickie cleanings detailed below for the rest of the year.
To do window deep cleaning 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.
Even plain tap water equaled or bested many store-bought brands in industry testing - and for a fraction of the cost. Save your bucks for the labels that matter - like laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners.
This homemade lemon-cleaner recipe works wonders on lightly soiled windows: Mix 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a gallon of water.
Try this vinegar window cleaning solution for moderately soiled windows: 1/4 cup vinegar in 3 cups warm water. It's terrific for quick and thorough cleaning of medium soils.
For serious window grime, try an extra-strength ammonia formula: 1/2 cup ammonia, 1 pint rubbing alcohol and one 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.
Don't tackle this chore on a sunny day - 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 with the solution, 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 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?