Clean sparkling windows are beautiful windows. Not only do crystal-clear windows provide more glorious views, but they’re also a thing of beauty in and of themselves. And then there’s the fact that keeping windows free of dirt and debris helps keep them in optimal working condition while extending their lifeline.
If you’ve recently invested in new windows, there’s no better time than now to commit to their routine care and maintenance. In addition to following your manufacturer’s guidelines, use these best practices, techniques, and tips for keeping your windows looking and performing their best.
We’ll also address window condensation, its causes, and how to prevent it.
Steps for Cleaning Windows Glass, Frames, Screens, and Hardware
Here, you’ll find a quick overview of steps to take when cleaning the various components of your windows, including tinted glass.
While annual cleanings are the minimum required for each window part, environmental factors may mandate more frequent attention. For example, because exposure to saltwater can cause corrosion, monthly cleanings are required for coastal homes.
IMPORTANT: Never use power washers, garden hoses, sharp or abrasive objects, or harsh cleaners (including petroleum-based products) to clean your windows. In addition to damaging your windows, using these products may also void your warranty.
- Use clean water to rinse away dirt and dust particles.
- Apply a glass cleaner or water (using a soft, damp cloth) to the glass. If you are using a professional cleaning product, follow the use instructions on the label carefully.
- Work quickly to prevent residue from drying and accumulating.
- Be sure to do a final clean water rinse to ensure a sparkling, film-free finish
- To avoid scratching the finish of the frame, remove dirt and dust with clean water.
- Wipe down both the interior and exterior of window and door frames using mild soap and water. (Perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area first.)
- Once a year following a thorough frame cleaning, apply a gentle car-wax solution to your window frames. Make sure to apply the wax after you have cleaned the frames. Otherwise, the wax may seal salt spray deposits to the frames, allowing corrosion to occur.
- After carefully removing your window screens, lay them down on a clean, debris-free, flat surface.
- Use a soft brush and a mild soap and water solution to remove dirt and debris. (Do not use metal implements and avoid harsh scrubbing to avoid damaging or tearing screens.)
- Allow screens to dry completely before reinstalling them.
- Use a mineral oil, light plant-based oil, or other light oil lubricant to facilitate easy operation of hinges, thumb turns and other moving parts. (Note: Sliding glass door wheels do not need lubrication.)
- For weatherstripping, use only a damp cloth and mild solution of soap and water. Take care to thoroughly rinse and dry weatherstripping. Additionally, immediately replace any damaged weatherstripping to ensure a tight seal.
- Ensure optimal drainage with regular inspections and cleanings of each window’s weather drainage/weep system.
- Use a damp cloth for wiping down tracks and sills or use a vacuum cleaner to remove debris.
Window Cleaning Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks
Here are some additional tips for cleaning and maintaining your windows, glass doors, and components:
- Avoid damaging your windows by using only light pressure when washing and refraining from vigorous scrubbing.
- Clean, rinse, and dry windows and doors one at a time to minimize the risk of cleaning agents permeating their surfaces.
- Because of exposure to construction site chemicals, an aluminum window frame should always be carefully cleaned after they’ve been installed.
- Refrain from leaning on window and door screens as they’re not designed to withstand pressure from falling.
- While cleaning windows in direct sunlight is one of the most common window-cleaning mistakes, you’ll actually avoid premature drying (and the streaks that go along with it) by cleaning your glass windows outside direct sunlight and during more moderate temperatures. (A range of mid-60s to 70s Fahrenheit is ideal.)
- Frequent washings are essential for eliminating surface dirt and preventing glass streaks and stains.
- Keep a log of each cleaning for your records. Include the date and what was cleaned to ensure you never miss a cleaning and to have documentation that indicates compliance with the warranty.
Understanding (and Managing) Window Condensation
Condensation is another frustration for homeowners seeking windows that sparkle. However, this is not actually an issue with the windows.
Caused by temperature differentials, condensation forms on glass because these surfaces typically have the lowest temperatures in your home. In fact, condensation on windows is actually a good sign as it demonstrates a strong barrier between indoors and outdoors. This is also why you may notice more condensation in extreme weather and/or during seasonal transitions.
However, there are some strategies for reducing condensation, including:
- Cracking windows or doors
- Running exhaust fans
- Allowing air to circulate by opening window coverings
- Turning off humidifiers and using dehumidifiers
In colder climates (or during wintertime), additional steps may also be necessary including:
- Upgrading to insulated windows (or adding storm windows)
- Keeping plants in lesser-used rooms and sunrooms
- Incorporating waterproofing protection in your basement
- Removing radiator pans
- Minimizing use of open-faced gas heaters (and making sure they’re connected to your chimney)
Two caveats regarding condensation in your home?
- Condensation between glass panes in insulated windows may be an indication that the airtight seal has failed. In this case, the glass may need to be replaced.
- If you notice signs of a serious moisture issue (moisture spots, rotting wood, peeling paint, mold, mildew, or fungus, etc.), contact an HVAC professional.
While “doing windows” may get a bad rap, the truth is that maintaining sparkling windows is not an intensive undertaking—especially if you start with quality doors and windows.
To start enhancing your home with a more elegant and energy-efficient view, find an authorized CGI dealer near you.