Naturally, plain water and newspaper are still the best, cheapest window cleaners – first using a garden hose to spray off the outside windows, followed by a sponge dampened with warm water to finish the job. Then use a wadded up newspaper to polish the cleaned glass.
For heavy, outside window-cleaning jobs, mix a solution of one quart of warm water, 1/4-cup plain ammonia or 1/4-cup distilled vinegar (don’t use both, they’ll neutralize each other), 1/2-cup denatured alcohol (if it’s cold enough outside to freeze the solution), a teaspoon of trisodium phosphate (Spic and Span) and one tablespoon of cornstarch. Don’t use sudsy ammonia, it will leave streaks.
Stir or shake until granules are dissolved and use a sponge to clean the top, bottom and middle of each pane. Rinse with a garden hose and polish with newspaper. Or, if you prefer the high-tech method, put the solution in a spray bottle to apply it to the glass, following up with a garden hose.
Window cleaning tips – Pick an overcast, cool day, or a time when the sun is not shining directly on the windows, to help prevent streaking. Direct sun causes the cleaning solution to evaporate before it can be removed with your equipment.
If practical, vacuum the window frames with the brush attachment to remove any grit, spider webs, dead bugs, etc. If windows have excess paint on the panes, apply hot vinegar on a sponge to the paint and remove the softened paint with a single-edge razor scraping tool.
Start at the top of the window and work your way down. If there are a lot of windows, complete the top horizontal row, then the next one down and the next and the next, etc.
To help keep track of which side of the pane the streaks are on, wipe the outside using vertical strokes and the inside using horizontal strokes. Then, when you see streaks, you can tell, by their alignments, which sides of the glass they’re on.
If you live in a two-story house, consider hiring a professional cleaning firm Jan-Pro Englewood to do the work.
If you do second story work yourself, don’t take your life in your hands by sitting on the window sill with your body outside the window! Instead, raise and lower both top and bottom sashes so you can reach the outside from inside the room. Most modern storm windows are designed so they can be removed from inside the frames – do so and clean your windows in the bathtub!
If you have a big job and tall windows, invest in a pole mounted squeegee. Buy one with a blade just a little longer than the panes are wide and use a hacksaw to cut the squeegee the exact width of the panes. If you have to reach second floor windows from outside, buy a telescoping paint-roller pole and install the squeegee on the end of it. To properly use a squeegee, wet the pane lightly with cleaning solution and then take a damp sponge to wipe the squeegee blade, so it will glide smoothly over the pane, instead of skipping. Tilt the squeegee at a 45-degree angle to the glass and pull it from left to right (right point of squeegee into the upper left corner of the pane) horizontally across the top of the pane. Wipe the blade with a damp sponge and make another pass, just below the first one, slightly overlapping the bottom of the first pass. Repeat this until you’re satisfied with the job, wiping the blade after each pass.
Most lumber supply stores sell high-pressure sprayers which attach to the end of your garden hose and have reservoirs to hold cleaning solutions. They can be used to first spray a soap solution and then plain water to rinse it off.