Get Your Windows Crystal-Clean For the Bright Summer Days

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Why Does It Matter?

It’s said that windows are only as graceful as they are clear. After all, windows are meant to provide a barrier that light can pass through — but what’s the point if they’re dirty? It’s shockingly easy to overlook not only how much detritus your windows accumulate, but how much light this tends to obstruct. Fingerprints, dust, spots, wiping streaks and dried particles accrue on glass surfaces over months — slow enough that you subconsciously ignore the differences. It’s often not until you give it a good spring cleaning that you realize how much sunshine you’ve missed out on — and we all need our vitamin D, even in the comfort of indoor air conditioning. So what is there for it, anyway?

There’s always the obvious answer: Windex and a roll of paper towels. It lacks for grace, but it’s made up in simplicity. Unfortunately, it’s also inefficacious, as you’re leaving paper dust and streaks in your wake, and you’ve done little to ensure this process doesn’t need a weekly treatment. Fear not — there are three general sources of dirt, dust and grime you can weed out to let the sun inside this summer and keep it that way.

1. Windowsills, Frames, Screens and Blinds
Right off the bat, here are four of the little problems that you may have overlooked: debris trapping in the screen, dust bunnies spawning on the blinds, dirt collecting on the ledges, and mildew forming on the frames. Dusting and wet-wiping the blinds is an easy start, and cleaning the ledges is simple enough with a little Lysol, but what does one do for the other two? You can easily squash mildew with a bleach-detergent wipe-down, which should prevent it from ever returning again. Screens are a bit more work, but there’s a trick to keeping them pristine: After giving them a good rinse with cleaning solution and a bristle-ended brush, try an application of clear floor wax. You can also slow the accumulation of dust on the blinds with an antiseptic spray. Crazy, right?

2. Air Pollution
Cigarettes, unclean air filters, and even smoke from outdoor flames (such as bonfires and grills) do their part in obscuring the passage of sunlight through your windows. There are oddball solutions (like covering your windows up), and then there are sensible ones: take the nicotine outdoors, change your HVAC filters once monthly, and keep the grill away from the window. For indoor smokers, you can easily remove nicotine film from the glass with an ammonia solution (such as Windex), but this won’t stop it from forming again. Lighting up outdoors is a better solution on the whole, since it won’t settle on indoor surfaces, and everyone can breathe easier. Besides, it gets you more sun; isn’t that the idea?

3. Cleaning Methods and Materials
At the end of the day, avoiding what causes a dirty window is only half the battle — cleaning one is a different problem, and we all know the pain of wipe-streaking and towel residue. Abrasive scrubbers can also scratch the surface, so try using a squeegee instead to uniformly clean the glass without leaving streaks, spots, debris or scratches. You should also avoid cleaning windows in direct sunlight, as drying too quickly increases the likelihood of streaking. Windex and Invisible Glass are good first-choice cleaners, but when there’s a stain you can’t get out, a dose of vinegar should do the trick. You should also avoid using ammonia cleaners on tinted windows, as this can damage the film.