One of the most common household staples that is widely suggested to use for cleaning windows is vinegar, but we don’t recommend it. Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t get good results cleaning windows with vinegar, as that is untrue. Vinegar is a very versatile product and can be used effectively for many cleaning applications. However, before you crack open a bottle and get started, here are some of the downsides of using vinegar for window cleaning (which, in our opinion, outweigh the positives):
- Dulling of certain surfaces – Glass won’t be affected, however the acidity of vinegar can dull certain surfaces that perhaps surround your windows. The sealants and finishes used to protect stone bench tops, floorboards, tiles and polished concrete can be broken down by vinegar, leaving them exposed to further tarnish and damage.
- Damage to treated or coated glass – In point one we said that glass won’t be affected, but the surface of your windows may not actually be glass. There are many coatings and treatments common to modern windows that should not be cleaned with anything acidic, including vinegar. Such surfaces may be found on glass with tint or laminate including low e glass and ComfortPLUS Glass. Even glass protectors such as EnduroShield should not be exposed to highly acidic cleaning processes. If in doubt, go without, skip the vinegar and try one of our suggestions below.
- Vinegar is a poor degreaser – Typically, the hardest window to clean in a home is the one above the kitchen sink (or worse still, a splash back above the stove) because of the build up of splashed water, soaps and grease. Vinegar is an ineffective cleaning agent for greasy surfaces.
- Aroma – The problem with the smell of vinegar is that it smells a lot like vinegar! It’s not the worst odour in the world, but nonetheless, when there are window cleaning alternatives that either smell more pleasant or are fragrance free, it is a good reason to skip it in our opinion.
- Vinegar can degrade rubber – Certain compositions of rubber can be adversely affected by vinegar. This could include the seals of some windows (although it is uncommon for such rubbers to be used as window seals) or the rubber of the squeegee that you are cleaning the windows with. In the case of squeegee rubber, even a small amount of damage will result in streaks every time you use it.
No one wants to hear only the problems! What’s the alternative?
There are many alternatives, however we recommend a simple one…
Dish washing detergent
This is what we use for most window cleaning applications (specifically we use Morning Fresh, but most likely whatever you use for your own dishes will do the job.) Not only does dish detergent not carry the issues of vinegar as listed above, but it also carries with it the main advantage: you already have it!
Here’s how we recommend cleaning windows with Morning Fresh: (“You will need” box: dish washing detergent, a bucket, a cloth or sponge, a good quality squeegee (check out our squeegee guide here), some dry cloths (ideally microfiber))
- add a squirt to a bucket of water (warm or cold, whichever you prefer) – you want enough to forms suds when wiped on the glass, but not so much as to make the water feel slimy when on the glass or cause it to evaporate too quickly
- starting at the top, use a cloth or sponge (we use window cleaning T-bars (https://www.windowcleaningworld.com/unger-ninja-swivel-t-bar) with Unger Ninja Washer Sleeves (https://www.windowcleaningworld.com/unger-ninja-washer-sleeve) – but if you don’t have anything similar or the desire to purchase one, then a cloth or sponge will do the job, albeit a little slower) and wipe the glass of the window clean. Just as if you were doing the dishes, it is in this process that you actually ‘clean’ the glass, so be sure to be thorough.
- Tip: When the window is sudsy (and especially when dirty on the other side) it can be hard to see if you have cleaned off the dirt – but you can feel the difference.
- grab your squeegee and pull across from one side to the other to force all of the water from the surface of the glass.
- Tip: Your squeegee should glide across the glass – too much or too little pressure will cause problems, but if your final stroke of the squeegee is gripping the glass, add more water to that portion of the window.
- use your microfiber cloth to run over all of the edges, removing residual water. Also, if there are any streaks or runs, you can correct them with a dry microfiber cloth.
Of course, there is another much easier solution – get someone to do it for you! We would happily be that someone, so give us a bell if you need a hand.