Over time, windows accumulate quite a bit of dirt and grime. This is especially true if they haven’t been cleaned twice a year as experts recommend. Air pollution, car exhaust, and general gunk build up over time and cause windows to look dingy. Although all windows can be cleaned in the same basic way, older glass and wood windows do require some special consideration.
First of all, let's discuss what not to use. Products such as Windex aren't necessarily bad for your windows, but they just simply won't do the best job of cleaning the glass. Although vinegar and water or ammonia and water mixtures may be time-tested cleaners, both of these solutions are acidic and can be harmful to the metal cames found in both leaded and stained glass. Painted glass must never be cleaned with anything stronger than water, and then only after making sure that the paint is stable enough to be cleaned at all.
Before putting any liquid cleaners on your wooden windows, placing an old towel at the bottom of the sash is recommended to catch any water that might drip down while you're working, which could mar some finishes, such as stain or varnish, if the water were allowed to remain there.
The best cleanser for windows is as simple and inexpensive as soap and water. However, not all soaps are created equal. The blue variety of Dawn dishwashing soap is the one brand that is recommended over and over again by numerous sources. All you need is a couple of drops in approximately a gallon of warm water and a soft, clean cloth. A natural sponge may also be used.
This is one case where more is not better. Be sparing with the soap or you'll end up spending much more time on this project than is necessary. Having used the Dawn and water solution to clean my own windows, I can attest to its effectiveness. Wipe the windows dry with a paper or shop towel and you'll have a steak-free shine with minimal effort.
A squeegee can also be used to dry the windows. After pulling the rubber blade across the glass with an even pressure, wipe the blade dry before repeating the process. Also, it's important to note that washing windows in direct sunlight can cause the soap and water solution to dry out faster than it can be wiped off.
Clean and shiny windows enhance the appearance of any home. By using this simple approach to cleaning them, the twice-yearly process can be far less time-consuming and produce much better results than what you may have experienced in the past.