When we need to clean something we usually reach for products designed (and marketed) for that purpose. Often, though, there are easier and cheaper solutions already close at hand.
This is a real bonus. I hate the proliferation of half-used bottles in my cleaning cupboard. Every year I swear I am going to pare down to a single multi-purpose (eco) product, then I get swept up by some new offering (which so often disappoints, hence the half bottles).
Both are cheap, non-toxic and versatile: there are entire web pages devoted to their many uses, which include, in the case of vinegar, cleaning windows.
I gave up on chemical window cleaners a while back and have since tried various `green’ glass cleaners. I have not found one that dazzles. So I reverted to the old vinegar and water in a spray bottle (in a ratio of about 1:4, though some argue for 1:1)…couple this with a lint-free cloth and all is good, no? Much as I would like this to be the solution, something seems to be missing. So here are my two key window-cleaning tips.
1. Add a drop – not a large squirt – of dishwashing soap to the spray bottle. The Biovert I reviewed a while back does a good job here. The addition of soap removes any existing films from past cleaners and generally gets rid of dirt better (in my view).
2. Get the right tools. Yes, the cloth should be lint free (a Mabu wood pulp cloth is always a good bet) and, yes, a squeegee can be a good idea (though don’t underestimate the skill it takes to wield one like a professional: for me I just end up with more drips and mess). But my tool of choice for window cleaning is an unconventional one: a Lee Valley flexible stainless steel spatula (a durable bargain at $9.95).
I keep one of these spatulas in the kitchen for flipping food and another in the cleaning cupboard where its flexible, yet very true and somewhat sharp, edge comes in so handy. Spray a bit of vinegar/water/soap on the window, scrape with the spatula and all the caked-on insects and mysterious little splatters (including paint) are dislodged from your glass without the rubbing and sweating that might otherwise be required.
The spatula is also invaluable for removing bits of tape from floors and any other tasks that require precision scraping from hard, flat surfaces. It is safer than a razor and more versatile than a paint scraper. I could not live without it!
Last thing on the windows: some people swear that adding a dash of rubbing alcohol in addition to vinegar and dishsoap makes all the difference…I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.