Long a homeowner's and a cleaning lady's lament, cleaning windows isn't most people's idea of a fun household chore. Even if you are lucky enough to have tilt-in double hung vinyl replacements windows, the job is still tedious and slow going, especially if your home is large. Cleaning windows can easily translate into a weekend project or more.
Homeowners with older, historic homes are usually reluctant to install new windows. Keeping the original windows means the home can retain its unique character and charm. The glass itself, with its occasional waves or bubbles, adds to the character. The muntins, the thin strips of wood between individual panes of glass, are also fashioned to the period and architectural style of the home. These things cannot be reproduced in replacement windows. A vinyl sash will not last nearly as long as a wooden sash. Lastly, the seal in new double pane windows breaks eventually, which will leave you with cloudy glass that cannot be cleaned.
How does one best clean historic glass windows and storm windows? Here are the basic steps to getting your windows crystal-clear.
Whether it's time to take down the storm windows in the spring or put them up in the autumn, this is a good time to wash all your windows as well as the screens. Begin by carefully lining up your storm windows gently against the house. Using a low pressure setting on your garden hose nozzle, lightly spray each window first. Then, using a bucket of water with a few drops of mild dish soap added and a sponge, wash each window, both the front and the back side. Rinse clean with the hose.
To dry the windows to a streak-free clean, use either a vinegar/water solution or a commercial preparation with ammonia. Spray one side with the solution. Use a rubber-bladed squeegee, working from top to bottom, to finish cleaning the window. Wipe the squeegee after each pass. Do the same to the other side and work your way down the line.
Once you have done the storms, you can take the screens down and carefully spray any dirt and debris off them. While they are drying, you can get on your step ladder and repeat the spraying and washing process on the exterior of the hung windows.
Once you have done the storm windows, screens, and the exterior of the window itself, it's time to do the inside. You won't be able to easily spray away the dirt in the house, so it's best to put down an old towel under the window you are working on. If the windows are really dirty, go over them with plain water first. People who have wood heat tend to have windows with a sooty coating. Otherwise, proceed with washing them with a sponge and soapy water. Then repeat the process with plain water. Finally, spray them with your vinegar or ammonia solution and use the squeegee to dry.
What About The Upper Windows?
Historical glass is generally less strong than modern tempered glass. A home with newer windows can simply be power sprayed, but this can be a risky endeavor with older windows. Unless you are entirely comfortable being on an extended ladder, it is best to hire a professional window cleaning company who has experience with cleaning older windows. And because the job is so tedious to begin with, you may want to just ask for a quote for the whole job.