home window cleaning

The Nickel Pincher: Wash Your Windows Like a Pro

A squeegee and a few cloths make home window cleaning fast, easy, and free of nasty chemicals.

By Jean Nick

The Nickel Pincher: Wash Your Windows Like a Pro

Clean sweep: A squeegee is the best tool for cleaning your windows.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—I've always liked washing windows, especially if they are good and dirty. When I was a kid I’d grab the spray bottle of vibrant-blue window cleaner and a roll of paper towels and have at ‘em. Later, I learned that crumpled newspapers worked better than paper towels (and are free), and that vinegar diluted with water is just as effective as commercial window cleaner spray (containing who-knows-what-all chemcials). Then I learned the REAL secret to fast, green, and superior home window cleaning: the squeegee!

A squeegee pulls all the water and dirt off freshly washed glass, leaving nothing but the shine: no streaks, no lint, no smudges. If the rubber part gets nicked, you can replace just that, but otherwise it will last for generations. And it works with a little natural dish soap in a bucket of water, so using it is practically free and very ecofriendly. Squeegeed windows even stay cleaner longer because you aren’t putting a static charge on them that will attract dust and fuzz, which happens when you clean glass with rags or paper.

Now's a good time of year to scrub your windows, removing all the gunk from a winter's worth of cooking and indoor living so you can enjoy the beauty of spring.

What You'll Need:

• A squeegee (12 inches to 20 inches are widths to start with; you don't want a squeegee wider than your window) [You’ll find professional window-washing tools at janitorial supply houses, some big-box home-improvement stores, or online. Expect to spend $15 to $20 for a good squeegee with a replaceable rubber blade.]

• A sponge (I like the kind with a scratchless scrubber on one side) or—and this is a real time-saver for large windows—a window scrubber, which is a professional window-washing tool that looks like a floor mop, that's the same width as your squeegee)

• A large bucket

• 2 soft, absorbent, and, preferably, lint-free cloths

• Natural liquid dishwashing soap

• A handle extension or appropriate-height ladder (if any of your windows are too high to reach)

• Razor blade scraper for stubborn gunk and paint spots and such

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Published on: April 28, 2010

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Windows with small panes

If you have a number of windows with many small panes treat yourself to a squeegee purchased or cut just to fit from edge to edge of a pane so you can squeegee each with one swipe.

To custom-fit a squeegee measure the pane carefully (measure twice, cut once), slide the rubber blade part of the way out of the handle, use a hacksaw to cut the handle to the right width, trim the rubber blade to length with sharp scissors, and slide it back into place.

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