Homes with large windows and skylights strike an impressive view. They grab attention from outside and fill the inside with natural light. But, as any window washer will tell you, large windows (and those placed high in a building, like a skylight), can be tricky to clean and keep sparkling. You may hire a professional to thoroughly clean the windows in your home once or twice a year. However, you can keep them looking great between cleanings with a little know-how.
Challenges of Maintaining Large Windows
Large windows may allow in abundant light, but they may also challenge homeowners in ways that standard-sized windows might not. This is especially true when these windows are tough to reach, or when they’re not actually designed to open.
A large window may present a challenge based on its size alone. If you don’t get the excess cleaning solution and water off quickly, you’ll likely end up with spots and streaks. Skylights or angled windows are especially prone to bird droppings, tree sap, or other natural “gunk” that requires periodic spot cleaning.
Location often presents a challenge, too. Even with a stable ladder, high skylights or atrium windows can be tough to reach and balance as you clean them. They can also make it a little difficult to apply enough pressure to remove stubborn gunk.
Steps for Cleaning Large Windows
It is possible though, with the right products, tools, patience, and a little hard work.
- Use the right tools. This Old House recommends a strip applicator to wash picture windows and a squeegee to remove the solution and excess liquid. For curved windows or those with small panes, you may need various sizes. Name brand squeegees cost a bit more, but many homeowners swear the quality makes up for the expense. Get a telescoping pole and a ladder for large and tall windows. A water-fed pole allows you to spray down an area, especially where something–like bird droppings–needs time to soak.
- Keep a bucket of clean water and a couple of towels nearby to ensure that your squeegee and tools stay clean and dry as you use them. As you wash the windows, using a strip applicator allows for even application of cleanser on a larger area than other tools might. Use the squeegee to remove the dirty water and excess cleanser before grabbing a cloth to wipe up any excess.
- Use the right solutions. Some swear by good old soap and water. However, some pros suggest mixing a little vinegar in a bucket of water. And there are those who swear by applying Rain-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner and Water Repellent to their home windows. Experiment and find the cleaning solution that works best for you and your windows.
- Protect your walls and floors. When you wash the insides of windows, cover the surrounding area with a drop cloth. Move furniture and decor out of the way. It may take more time, but think about how you would feel if something got damaged.
- Choose the right weather to wash. Cloudy days are great to wash windows. Direct sunlight may make it easier to see the dirt on your windows; it speeds up the drying time and causes streaks. Speaking of streaks, professional cleaning Stephanie Lewis gave a great tip to Houzz: Dry windows horizontally on one side and vertically on the other. That way, if streaks appear, you can tell which side they’re on!
To keep large windows sparkling year-round, create a schedule and stick to it. A cleaning with each seasonal change is always a good idea. Large windows call for a bit more attention and care than smaller windows because they’re more likely to get dirty and grimy more quickly. The more grime and dirt collects on large windows, the harder they are to clean, and no one wants that!