Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning -- Windows, Part II

Cleaning Windows -- Part II

Cleaning your windows does not have to be an expensive facet of house keeping. There are many recipes for homemade window cleaners, many of which use either vinegar or ammonia in water. If you use an ammonia based homemade cleanser, think twice about using it on bathroom mirrors. Likely, it will be fine. However, if the mirror has an aluminum frame, as many bathroom mirrors do, the ammonia could be corrosive to the frame.

Even commercially made window cleaning solutions are not that expensive. Likewise, any other tools you might want to purchase do not have to be costly. One useful item is a squeegee, either a short handled one or one on an extension pole. Other items you might need are a ladder (and someone around to steady it while you work ), or a cleansing tool on a telescoping pole. Be very, very careful when cleaning windows from a ladder. Do not attempt to do this when you are by yourself!

You might also want to use old linen or cotton towels or any cloth that is lint-free and absorbent. Paper towels are good for cleaning inside windows, but it's obviously more economical to work with a reusable cloth. Some home keepers have even been known to use old newspapers to clean windows. If you try this, wear gloves so that the newsprint will not smudge on your hands.

If you don't want to take the screens down to wash them, it is possible to vacuum the dirt out by opening the window from the inside and using your vacuum attachment. You can also use a medium-stiff brush, but you must be careful not to brush the dust back into your house -- thus creating an even bigger mess. Still, as I mentioned in my previous post, the most thorough way to clean your screens is to take them down one a year and hose them down and let them dry on cloths in the sun.

After cleaning your windowsills, give them a good waxing. This will keep water spots from developing on your sills, as well as make them easier to dust. It will also make your windowsills look extra nice.

If you dust your sills weekly, you will find the task of seasonally cleaning your windows to be much easier!

If you live in a cold climate, you might use storm windows. I don't have any personal experience with storm windows, so one of our readers who does use them might care to comment about this. As I understand it, storm windows fit outside of regular windows and are put up in the fall and taken down in the spring. If they are made of glass, you can clean them as you would any other type of window. If they are made of plastic, you will need to be careful. Homemade and commercial window cleaning solutions can cloud them. So, you must find out what the manufacturer's suggestions for cleaning these plastic storm windows are. Lacking that, use a very mild detergent, rinse well, and wipe dry.

If you have windows that are very high, you might consider having them professionally cleaned once in a long while. I do have some high windows, one of which is in a very awkward place to get to. All but one of my high windows have the feature I mentioned in my earlier post that allows you to clean the bottom pane from the inside. For the rest, I use the spray cleaner and hose system, which does a fair enough job.

Of course, while you are cleaning windows, it only makes sense to deal with shutters, blinds, curtains, drapes, and awnings. Likewise, you might as well check the condition of your gutters and downspouts to see if they need attention, as well. But, all that's another story for another day.

Happy spring cleaning!

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