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The Damsel once heard a famous cleaning expert speak. During the question and answer period, a worried wife asked him what was the first thing he noticed, as far as cleanliness goes, when he went over to someone’s house. He promptly replied, the windows. The Damsel is pretty sure the wife started crying at that point. It’s hard to say for sure because the Damsel was sobbing herself and it was hard to concentrate.

Why are windows the bane of our existence? Why?

Let the Damsel make one part easier: the cleaning solution.

As you may have heard, you can clean windows with an old-school mixture of vinegar and water. For some folks, this is all that needs be said. Cheapo vinegar, about 1/4 cup, per 2 cups water. Why pay for it to be blue?

However, some folks say this mixture leaves streaks. The Damsel puzzled over this. Why would some windows look beautiful with the vinegar stuff and others streak? One possible answer: if you’ve used commercial window cleaner for a long time, there is probably a wax-like buildup on your windows. The vinegar stuff is strong enough to loosen it but not enough to remove it, so you end up smearing the wax stuff around on your windows, making the dreaded streak.

If this sounds familiar, try adding a couple of drops of dish soap to your spray bottle. The soap will cut the wax, eliminating the streak. But, the Damsel insists that you restrict yourself to a couple of drops. More is not better. All you’ll do is trade wax streaks for soapy streaks.

Adding a bit of soap will also help take off grease splatters from kitchen windows. Some homemade window cleaner recipes include ammonia, and the Damsel suspects this is for its grease-cutting properties. But ammonia can damage some painted surfaces and coated glass. And the Damsel does NOT like the way it smells. Let’s just leave it at that.

Other recipes call for rubbing alcohol, probably because of its quick-drying properties. But it’s not as cheap as vinegar, so the Damsel prefers you try the Cheapo first and see how it goes. This is her wish.

Stay tuned for a post on the actual cleaning method.

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  • My daughter actually just did a science fair project on this very topic and found that the vinegar/water mixture was equally as effective as the Windex and far more effective than a popular eco-friendly brand.

  • I have had streaks with vinegar and water. But it’s probably because of what you said. I was suspected my washcloth and hadn’t even thought to try newspaper. I still have a couple partial bottles of the “blue stuff.” But I’ve mostly been using my clean everything with it spray called, “Quick Job.” I’m certain the vinegar and water is cheaper though. I’ll attempt the wax breakdown and give it another try.

  • Great advice! Stumbled 😉

  • Kristl Story

    The Budget Diet girl loves cheapo and no harsh chemicals! I’ll give it a try! stumbled

  • Happydealhappyday

    Thanks for the tip! I just got a lot of vinegar w/ a coupon – need to add it to my window sprayer bottle!

  • Great post! Vinegar is just my favourite thing … does so much and costs so little!!

  • That makes sense. I’ll try adding some dish soap next time I need to use vinegar.

  • I have always had streaks too, but I have found a drastic difference depending on the type of cloth I use. I amy have to give the dish soap a try, though. And yes, why must windows be the bane of our existence?

  • Hi, the pros use joy and ammonia,I should know for I clean windows for a living. To use …1 gal. water,1/2 to 1 c. ammonia and 2Tab plus liquid joy. Check your squeegee rubber it should be free of blemishes and not dry or cracked, use a lint fee cotton towel to wipe the edges use no fabric softener on your towels! The softener will leave residue. To apply the mix use a soft cotton cloth, natural sponge or a professional scrubber,squeegee wipe edges and enjoy. No rinse and repeat here.

    • Anonymous

      Kathy–thanks a ton for the info!

  • Pingback: Old School – Self Reliance 101 » Blog Archive » how to wash windows()

  • Itzach Stern

    In my case there are hard deposits I can’t manage myself and I think professional window cleaning is needed to revive the beauty of my store and somehow lure potential clients and visitors.

  • Crystal Clear Windows!

    Awesome! Just tried the recipe: 2 C Water, 1/4 C white vinegar, 2-3 drops dish soap and I like it better than any store-bought window cleaners!!! Cleans great and smells good with the soap…so easy to make and no $$$! Thank you for sharing this. I had tried vinegar & water before and didn’t get the results, and now I know the right proportions and the few drops of soap as the secret ingredient. Bless your heart(s) for sharing this to keep things Crystal Clear!

    • Anonymous

      Yay! So glad you like it.
      Margot (The Damsel)

      • zhinka

        Glad to help! I was chemical poisoned a few years ago (Army corps of engineers poisoned out a lake to kill native fish so sportsmen could stock it with fancy fish) I lived beside that lake and was unfortunately one of the 2% of humans who are deathly reactive to rotenone and it almost killed me, caused me to lose all the skin off my lower legs and part of my face and lower arms, was over a year of agony and left me with liver and kidney and immune system issues.  It also left me with the side effect of not being able to be around alot of usual household chemicals. I have been going pioneer in alot of ways as I search out ways to cook and clean and garden without losing more skin.
        OH it has been experience for sure.Did ya know rotenone is legally used for so called organic produce sold at the market? scary, scary!

        • thedamselindisdress

          Yikes! It seems these bad chemicals are everywhere. I have recently become a big fan of essential oils so I really loved your suggestion.
          So sorry to hear about your troubles. What a nightmare!

  • Zhinka

    instead of the dish soap, try using peppermint oil, NOT artrifucial, but real peppermint oil,it cuts grease pretty well,  not as well as dish soap so you might have to clean the build up off twice the first time you use it,but after that it works wonderfully!
    I also add some drops of lavender oil as well, it repels those flies that leave their poo dots all over as well!

    • thedamselindisdress

      Wonderful idea! I’m trying this!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Your tips and suggestions make sense to us! Nice blog and your post is very helpful. Thanks for sharing, sureclean.org