Angie’s List: How should I wash my windows?

By Paul F. P. Pogue
Angie’s List
You can clean windows yourself, but a professional window cleaner saves time and can handle the exterior safely.

Once you’ve finished your spring cleaning and start looking outside for the sunny season, you may notice your windows need a good cleaning inside and out. Professionals recommend cleaning your windows at least once per year, if not twice. Window washing can be a DIY job, but you can save a lot of hassle by hiring a pro, particularly if you have a taller house.


Paper or microfiber cloths do the best job cleaning glass. Certain wood rags made specifically for the task are also good. Avoid plain, cotton rags or towels, which will leave lint behind. (Old newspapers will also work wonders on your glass! Just look out for ink on your hands.)

Store-bought spray chemicals work quite well and don’t require special mixing. If you’d prefer to make your own, try mixing one cup of rubbing alcohol, 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of vinegar.

Straight ammonia can clean up cloudy glass. However, take care never to mix it with vinegar, and don’t use ammonia on stained glass or leaded windows.

Hot soapy water can also clean glass. Rinse it with water afterwards to remove the soap residue. A splash of vinegar in the water will add a lovely shine.

Here’s a hint to get rid of streaks: go up and down on one side of the glass, and side-to-side on the other. This will help you determine where the streaks are.

If you have tilt-in windows, you’re in luck; you can clean both sides from inside the house. Otherwise you’ll need to head outside for half the job. If you have second-story windows, telescoping tools can help you clean without using a ladder.

If you use a ladder, work with a buddy to stabilize the ladder while you clean.


Even under the best of circumstances, cleaning exterior windows is a messy, inconvenient job, and you may not want to deal with it. And if you need to use a ladder to reach high windows, that adds safety concerns. In these events, you can hire a professional window washer to take care of it.

Pro washers can also identify problems such as sashes painted shuts, poorly fitting screens, or wood rot. They can save a big expense later on by catching the problem early. Pros also have expert tools for complicated jobs.

Most areas don’t license window cleaners, so carefully interview a cleaner to make sure you’re getting the best possible pro. Ask for references, and check them. Most window cleaners charge by the number of windows, though some charge by the hour. On average, cleaning a whole house’s complement of windows will cost around $200.

If you hire a pro, make sure the company is insured because a lot of window washing involves ladders, safety harnesses and scaffolding. Precautions and proper insurance and bonding are essential to ensure everyone’s protection.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit