Erin Doman on September 23, 2015 3 Comments Are your windows overdue for some thorough spring cleaning? Has your full-length bathroom mirror gone a little blurry at the edges? Whether you have family and friends coming over or you’re just finally getting around to a long-neglected chore, mirror and window cleaning takes equal parts elbow grease and know-how to get the job done right. Achieving streak-free glass doesn’t have to be difficult though. With the right tools and a few tips, you’ll be able to have sparkling windows and shining mirrors in no time. 1. Do Your Prep Work Before you break out the glass cleaner, it’s important to do a little prep work first. Although not all glass needs a lot of prep, there are three areas that do: your kitchen, your bathroom, and your outside windows. In the kitchen, grease and dust can accumulate on windows and oven doors which can be a sticky mess. In your bathroom, the windows may not get very dirty, but the mirror is likely to get heavy use. From splattered water to errant toothpaste, mirrors can get grimy fast. When it comes to outside windows, the elements don’t leave glass clean for long. From dust storms to bugs, outside windows can also become quite dirty. Dirt, dust and grime have to go before you can shine up those surfaces. First, give the entire area a good rinse. For outside windows, try a spray nozzle on a garden hose, but be careful not to spray full-blast. Inside, you can fill a bowl with water and use a rag to wipe off any dirt. If you’re working on the inside of a window, it’s a good idea to lay a towel across the sill to catch any drips. Use a cotton swab or toothbrush to get any grime out of the corners. At this point, don’t worry about streaks. Your goal is to remove the dirt–the shine comes later. 2. Choose Effective Cleaners There are a couple of options available to you for mirror and window cleaners. You have your traditional branded chemical cleaners that you can find at your average grocery store. These are useful because they are specifically designed and marketed as streak-free cleaners. If you tend to avoid chemical cleaners, know that there are many homemade cleaners that you can make with few ingredients. Commercial Glass Cleaners Suds are a guaranteed way to create streaked windows. That is why commercial glass cleaners are devoid of suds. Formulated specifically to clean glass, they are a good no-fuss option. Homemade Alternatives Cheap, easy, and made with common household ingredients, homemade glass cleaners work wonderfully as well. If you’d like to try your hand at making your own glass cleaner, it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Although the vinegar smell will linger for several minutes, the vinegar and water combo in homemade glass cleaners is nontoxic. Be sure to use distilled water rather than plain tap water to avoid mineral deposits that can cause streaks. 3. Use the Right Rags The next time you need to clean your bathroom mirror or wash your windows, don’t reach for the paper towels. While paper towels are wonderful for cleaning up spills, they do a terrible job on glass. Because they are made of tiny paper fibers, they leave a residue of lint and fuzz all over your otherwise clean windows. No one wants to spend valuable time cleaning glass only to end up with a lint-covered mess. Instead, invest in some low-lint towels. Natural chamois cloths, which are typically sold in the auto care aisle, work great. Another good option is to buy a pack of microfiber cloths. Both chamois and microfiber will help you achieve a streak-free shine without leaving a layer of lint behind. If you have to rely on a cotton towel in a pinch, choose one with a tight weave. While you may still end up with some lint, it’ll be far less than if you grabbed a standard terrycloth towel. What if you have company coming over and don’t have time to run to the store? Turn to your recycling bin instead. You’ve probably heard the recommendation to use newspaper to clean your windows. It’s true that newspaper works amazingly well to clean glass. Just wad up a sheet of newspaper and rub away the cleaner using circular motions. Once your newspaper is fully wet, toss it and grab a new sheet. Don’t worry about the news print; even wet, the print isn’t transferred to the glass. Just make sure you don’t rub the newspaper on any surrounding boarders, especially if the boarders are wood–the ink will stain here! 4. Change Up the Direction Have you ever spent a significant amount of time window cleaning until your glass sparkled, only to have the sunlight shine and reveal streaks and wipe marks that you left behind? One way to avoid this is to vary the direction that you wipe your windows. Just like painting a room, the best way to avoid noticeable strokes is to go over the surface several times, alternating wiping in a different direction each time. Start by cleaning the glass using small circular motions. Don’t make the circles too big. Instead, work in a comfortable range of motion. This first pass will wipe away most of the moisture from the glass cleaner as well as eliminate many of the streaks. Follow up by going over the glass once using horizontal swipes and then once using vertical ones. Although the process takes three steps, it only takes a matter of seconds per mirror or window. It’ll be time well spent when the sunlight hits the glass and there’s not a streak in sight. 5. End with a Buff No matter how diligent you are mirror and window cleaning, a stray streak will occasionally get past you. Whether you notice a streak right away or the next day, it’s simple to banish these last holdouts. All you need to do is buff the glass with a dry cloth. Remember, reach for a dry microfiber cloth rather than a cotton or paper towel. There’s no need to go over the entire surface. Just buff the streaks out when you notice them. Anyone can be a window-washing pro with a little know-how. Choose the right tools, invest in a little prep, and quickly go over your work in several directions. Using these tips, you will never have to suffer a streaked window or mirror again.