Windows are your gateway to the world, but what should you do when that gateway is smudged, gunky, or just plain old dirty?
Yes, window cleaning is one of those frustrating but ultimately necessary activities we have to partake in as homeowners and renters, made even worse by the fact it feels so inherently wasteful.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to get a beautiful, streak-free view without using enough water to drain the Mississippi River. If you follow these four easy tips, you can help reduce your environmental impact, while making sure your home (and exterior) looks sparkly clean.
1. Wait For Rain
It may seem obvious to wait for a rainstorm before taking out the old squeegee, but this tip might surprise you: Common sense dictates a good shower rinses away all the dirt and stains your windows have accrued over the year, but more often than not a little sprinkle will make your windows look actively worse. But, if you tackle your windows right after the storm has passed, you’re using less water and giving yourself a nice assist from Mother Nature.
However, you don’t have to wait for the storm to effectively clean your windows and save on water. If you decide to clean your windows right before a storm, the rain will finish the job leaving everything crystal and sparkly.
2. Squeegees Are Your Friend
Most homeowners use rags or, yeesh, paper towels (pro tip: do not clean windows with paper towels!) to dry their windows because, well, that’s what they have on hand. But if you don’t have a squeegee for your window cleaning project, do yourself a favor and head on down to the nearest hardware store and grab one. It’s an inexpensive tool designed to save you so much time, effort and, yes, water use during its lifespan.
One of the biggest causes of waste while cleaning, well, anything really, is simple—not getting the job right the first time. If you wash your windows and end up with a streaky finish, you’re going to have to go at it again until the job is finally done. Squeegees are, by far, the most effective way to get as much dirt and lines off the windows as possible, while using the least amount of water. Again, squeegees are your friend.
3. Sweep Off Dirt and Dust Before Washing
Cleaning your windows twice seems like a waste of time and energy, but you’ll thank us when you realize how much easier the job is (and how much less water you use) after you’ve gotten any dust, dirt and other debris out of the way before even getting started. Even if you’re only taking a few minutes with a brush to dust off windows and frames, it’ll make a huge difference at the end of the day.
The less visible dirt on the windows, the less visible dirt ends up in your window rinsing water. Which means your water isn’t going to get disgusting after a few runs with the squeegee. Which in turn means you aren’t going to be replacing your water bucket a dozen times throughout the day. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And a few cubic litres of water as well.
4. Use Lots and Lots of (Natural) Window Cleaner
Using a lot of window cleaner as a way to cut back on water use may seem a bit counter-productive, but it actually could save you gallons of water use when implemented properly. Natural cleaners work by dissolving dirt and impurities on the glass, and by saturating the pane with cleaner you can clean off your windows using less water, and sometimes no additional water at all!
Now, a lot of window cleaners are chock full of chemicals and other agents you might not exactly want to be power spraying all over your house. But fear not! You can make a cheap, easy and, most importantly, environmentally-safe window cleaner from the comfort of your home! There are several recipes out there, but we like this one which only calls for two cups of warm water, half a cup of vinegar, and a ½ of a teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent. Put that in a spray bottle, spray liberally, and wipe the dirt away. Now you’ve managed to make your home look pristine without putting a strain on your wallet or the planet!