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Streaks-free window

How to Clean Windows Without Streaks (When You Have Hard Water)

There`s no need to explain the advantages of crystal clear windows:

More natural sunlight to brighten up the room, clear fascinating views of the outdoor, even the room feels to be cleaner. And if the windows are floor to ceiling or any other large windows, they bring in the outdoors, make one feel connected with the nature without any visible barriers.

It`s literally dark in the room when the windows are cloudy:

Dirty window
Grimy window

And becomes much brighter with the clean windows!

Clean window close-up
Clean window close-up

Sometimes clean windows can be even dangerous. I can still recall, when my little brother was about six, we were strolling around a mall, and he ran into a glass wall. Fortunately, the glass remained unbroken 🙂 . No, seriously, they should stick some warning labels onto those glass walls and doors.

Struggling with streaks on large windows

We happen to be the lucky owners of a large window and a French door, both leading to the garden from our living room. Watching the seasons change from the comfort of the DIY sofa-bed is something delightful. And everything`s great until the seemingly crystal clear windows become so much streaky in the sunlight.

The summer of 2020 was a window cleaning nightmare. I washed that window 20 times during the three months of the summer! And still those streaks. . . Wouldn`t call myself a neat freak, but still, it`s annoying to see the garden you`ve been working on for so long, being blurred and clouded. I tried everything: rinsed it with a garden hose, the pressurized steam cleaner, all the possible glass cleaners, newspapers (very bad idea, leaves ink traces on the frames and on your hands), paper towels, alcohol (had a glass of wine after a regular streaks-battle failure), dishwashing liquids. . .

Guidance for cleaning the windows with mineral free/distilled water

Then called the friend I`ve mentioned in the defeating limescale post. She told me (this works with clean mineral free/distilled water):

– Wash the frames.

– Remove major dirt off the glass (mostly it`s dust and fly specks). It will easily come off with any cloth dipped into a dish soap (2 drops) and warm water (2l or half gallon) solution. Just wipe it off twice: firstly – to let the grime soak a bit, and secondly – to wipe it off easily. You may use an old toothbrush with the most stubborn dirt.

* Tip: don`t throw away the old toothbrushes, they are one of the most essential and free cleaning tools.

If there are some sticky traces, apply some nail polish remover on them and scrub them with a sponge. Scrub the labels with a plastic scraper (no razors or metal scrapers – they leave scratches on the glass!)

– Rinse the glass with clean water.   

– Pour some dish soap in warm water and wash the glass with a clean rag dipped in the solution.

– Don`t let it dry, wipe it off with a squeegee moving from one side to another working your way down, overlapping each stroke by about 3 cm or 1 inch.

– Wipe the squeegee blade with every sideward stroke so that the dirty water drops don’t get on the window again.

– Clean up the access water that is dripped near the edges (unfortunately that`s unavoidable) with a clean microfiber cloth.

– Use only clean rags.

That`s all hilarious, but. . .

First, we have very hard water in our locale (that`s why the window looked like I rinsed it with white mud, not water).

Second, the amount of dish soap. If there`s too much, unfortunately the soap itself leaves streaks.

Third, the squeegee. Any will do, but it must be sharp, with no damages on the rubber.

How to clean windows without streaks when you have hard water

Learning on my own mistakes, here`s what worked for me (reminder: we have hard water in our water supply system):

1. Choose the time when there`s no direct sunlight shining on the window, so that the home-made solution doesn’t dry on the glass faster than you got a chance to swipe it off with the squeegee.

2. Clean the frame (I`ll describe the full process of cleaning PVC window frames, including some time and efforts saving tricks, in one of the next posts).

3. Wash the major dirt like fly specks and dust off the window with a solution of warm water and dishwashing detergent (see the previous paragraph for tougher stains removing tips).

4. Rinse it with the garden hose (outside) or wipe it off with a rag soaked in clean water (hard water will do).

Mineral build-ups after rinsing with garden hose
Mineral build-ups after rinsing with garden hose
Cleaned with a home-made glass cleaning solution
Cleaned with a home-made glass cleaning solution

5. Mix a tiny drop of dish soap in 2l (half gallon) of warm water in a bowl or bucket. There should be no suds at all. If there are suds, then pour a bit of the solution out of the bowl and add more warm water. Add half of a pinch of citric acid or lemon juice into the solution.

Streak-free DIY glass cleaning solution
Streak-free DIY glass cleaning solution

6. Soak a clean lint-free rag or cloth in the solution and wipe every inch of the window pane with it. Don’t let the solution dry on the glass.

7. Wipe the water away with a clean squeegee. Start with several strokes at the top, then move sideward, working your way down, overlapping each stroke byabout 3 cm or 1 inch. The rubber blade should be damage-free, otherwise the place of the damage will leave water marks, therefore streaks.

Squeegee strokes directions & sequence
Squeegee strokes directions & sequence

*Tip: If you noticed some dirt on the window (stubborn fly dots), you can remove it with the same solution, then wipe the solution away with the squeegee and move on from that place.

8. Clean up the access water that is dripped along the edges with a clean microfiber cloth.

9. Clean and dry one window pane at a time.

Having a coffee break in the mid-window is so seductive, but better put it off till the work is done and you can enjoy both – the odorous coffee and the fascinating view from your window!  

Clean window
Enjoy your DIY garden view without streaks 😉

I`d like to hear about your streak-free window cleaning tips! Put a few words in the comment section 🙂

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  1. Lisa Edelstein

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your website?