Let the Sun Shine In … Washing Windows

Washing Windows
Divine Living

Divine Living

Owned and Operated by Patti Rutledge

Cleaning windows and screens well is essential for that really clean look in any room, heat efficiency and aesthetics. But in order to get any room to feel completely clean, is to wash those windows! 

Tools you will need:

  • A soft bristled brush or old toothbrush,
  • Vacuum,
  • Razor blade or straight edge tool for scrapping loose grim,
  • Micro fiber washing cloth,
  • A squeegee (if you don’t own one, invest in a good one – it will be the only one you will ever buy),
  • Old rag or towel,
  • Polishing cloth,
  • And a bucket of warm soapy water.


Before washing windows, remove the screens and make sure to wash them with dish soap in warm water, making sure to rinse well with water. Give the screen a gentle tap to remove most water. Let thoroughly dry.  I make sure to label every screen with what window it belongs to – over the years windows can shift, and the screen may only fit nicely into its original location. Mark it on the outside edges so it’s hidden from view. I have a good friend who also uses Murphy’s Oil Soap on the screens. She claims it works better keeping the screens cleaner longer. Failing to wash the screens will drastically shorten the life of your clean windows and if you’re going to expend the energy, do it right.


Brush and loosen any dirt that has embedded into the sill. An old toothbrush works well to get into nooks and crannies of sills. Vacuum away the loose dirt and wipe the entire sill of the window down with a solution of warm soapy water and a damp cloth. Dry well with any type of rag.


Years ago I spoke with a professional window washer and I begged him to tell me what his cleaning solution consisted of – you can imagine how floored I was when he told me Dawn dish soap. For years I made my own solution – cornstarch, vinegar, ammonia, yadda, yadda, yadda. Here the pro’s use simple dish soap. UGH. The insanity of marketing and the things I have bought into.

In my own house I have 82 panes of glass and there really is a trick to keeping it all straight and reduce wash/polish time. Rarely do I get the job done in one day, but my goal is always two days. Top floor one day, bottom floor the next.

Cleaning a double hung window can be tricky. But I clean any window from the outside in. For double hungs, its tricky to keep it straight.  Outside of the top pane, inside of the top pane, outside of the bottom pane and finally inside of the bottom pane. On the exterior I make horizontal wipes, on the interior I make vertical wipes. That way if there are ever any streaks, I know which side the streaks are on. Avoiding direct sun and overly warm days will also aide in reducing streaking on the glass. It is always best to start this project in early morning or later evening.

Begin by washing down the glass starting with the top most outside pane. Anything that is stuck on, scrape loose with the razor blade or straight edge. Next, use that squeegee! And with each stroke, wipe the water from it. After that step, polish the remaining moisture from the glass with your polishing cloth getting your glass to sparkle. Sounds complex, but really, washing windows is cathartic once you find your methodology and get into the groove.

A proper cleaning session invites brightness back into your home and somehow makes any room seem that much cleaner. Avoid burning candles that produce soot. Beeswax candles without fragrance (it’s bad, bad, bad for you!) don’t produce soot that loves glass so much. Avoid smoking indoors too. This helps keep the windows from getting grimy before the next washing session. I try to only wash in the spring and the fall.

Do you have a tip that you use when washing windows? I would sure love to hear about it. Tell us in the comments below!

Happy Washing!

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