The Best Window Cleaner ever.

I’m happy to be sharing The Best Homemade Window Cleaner with you. It has won us over. After years of filmy residue, we can see clearly now. The film is gone.

Ever since moving into our home 5 years ago, we’ve battled trying to get the exterior of our windows clean. They just never looked crystal clear. There was always a filmy residue and often chalky streaks. We tried a variety of window cleaners from homemade to store bought concoctions, as well as using newspaper instead of paper towels with not much success.

best homemade window cleaner

That all changed a few days ago when we learned about the best exterior window cleaner ever.

We’ve been working on updating a bathroom and ordered some mirrors. While the glass guys were here installing the mirror, my husband, Randy, got to chatting with them about how their business was going. During their conversation he happened to ask them what they use for cleaning glass. They shared a simple recipe for what they’ve found to work. They swore by it. We had already tried just using a simple combination of vinegar and water, but they learned a trick from a commercial window cleaner: add a little dish detergent to the vinegar/water mixture. Really? That simple? It was new to us, and it sounded much too easy.

So we tried it (or should I say Randy tried it) over the weekend. Randy set out just to test a few windows and the next thing I knew he had worked clear around the house, and was already working on some of the upstairs windows as well. There was an immediate difference, and so much easier than what we had tried in the past.

It was so bright inside we had to wear shades.

The Best Homemade Window Cleaner:

The proportions:

2 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dish detergent

What you’ll need:

a bucket
scrub brush with optional, extension pole
water hose with optional sprayer attachment

What Randy did:

For starters, he made a whole bucket of the solution.
Using a soft bristle scrub brush on an extension pole handle thingy, dip the brush in a bucket of the solution, and scrub it on the window.
Before it has a chance to dry, spray/rinse it off with clean water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. A hose fitted with a sprayer attachment was helpful.

Notes:

  • The solution could be made and used in a spray bottle, but we found working on lots of windows, the bucket and scrub brush worked great.
  • To avoid the need for a ladder (because ladders are the most dangerous tool in the box) Randy used an all-purpose extension pole with a threaded end that enables you to attach different brushes, rollers, etcetera. (Similar to this one.)
  • Use a soft bristle scrub brush. A sponge mop may also work.
  • This definitely works for outside windows, where you can safely rinse with water. I have yet to try it indoors, but if you do, make sure you can rinse with plenty of water. Perhaps one spray bottle of solution, and a separate spray bottle of clean water?
  • Again, be sure to rinse thoroughly, and before the solution has a chance to dry on window. It’s helpful to avoid windows directly in the sun, so they are not hot and don’t as quickly.

best homemade window cleaner That’s it. No more piles of used paper towels, no ladders, just clarity. Simple, huh? I’m planning on trying it on all kinds of things outside that need de-grungifying.

Keeping the shades on. The future is definitely gonna be brighter around here, y’all.

If you like this DIY post you may also enjoy learning how to Make a Chalkboard.

Happy cleaning!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Comments

  1. 1

    Kirsty says

    I love this! I use a similar “recipe” for cleaning our bathrooms at home – half detergent, half vinegar (warmed up in the microwave, then swirled with the detergent). It works wonders at removing soap scum and NC red slime.

  2. 17

    says

    Isn’t it funny how easy it is … I have been using this solution forever. I remember a housekeeper we had growing up, and she would clean the windows using this and newspaper. I spray it all over the shower to remove the crap on the glass and the walls. Also, if you have glass shower doors, that you squeegee – after I wash the windows with this cleaner, I spray rainx on the glass. Makes cleaning even better!

  3. 19

    Rose says

    We have a sunroom with many floor to ceiling windows. We have been using a gallon of water and “squirt” of dawn. We put it in a bucket. We use a sponge and squeezie and a towel to wipe the squeezie. That’t it. Works inside and out.. Haven’t bought glass cleaner in a couple of years.

  4. 21

    Marcia says

    I use this solution for my windows, glass, mirrors, etc. I REALLY like to have a clean house and use almost nothing but “the basics”. These include water, dawn , vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda (and sometimes ammonia). Differing solutions of one or more of these for various purposes will clean almost anything – and clean it well!

  5. 22

    says

    One of my friends who was a window washer in college used this recipe, but she swore by Joy dish detergent and used newspaper to get any residue off the windows after squeege-ing them. Vinegar is a wonder cleaner!

  6. 26

    Mary says

    It should work on inside windows– it works for me, but maybe Minnesota farm dirt is different that the film/dirt from your part of the world, especially ifyou live in an urban area and have smoke/exhauset in the mix.
    I use this recipe for windows, with the two bucket method. First, the vinegar, soap, water bucket and a rag to wet and wash the window. Second bucket, water and vinegar (about a cup vinegar to about 1 gal of water)and a second rag to rinse the window. Be sure to rinse it before the window dries. Then polish/dry with a microfiber cloth, or, for a quick finish, use paper towels and a commercial cleaner for the last time. It doesn’t take very long actually. About like washing dishes. Quick wash, quick rinse, and them some time to polish. There is a aerosol type that foams up and wipes off easily. I sometimes use it if I don’t want to spend much time polishing with a cloth. Can remember the name. Using it on mostly clean windows means one can goes a long ways, so I feel a tad less guilty about using the aerosol. Yeah for clean windows!

  7. 27

    Molly says

    Hi Amy! Just read about your chalky streaks on your window. I have a friend who always had the chalky streaks on her windows. Her house is painted brick. Turns out the house had been painted with an indoor only latex paint, so every time is rained, it would wash some of the paint off the house (and onto the windows). I always thought she just had old windows until she had her house re-painted using the right paint and she commented on how nice it was to have clean windows. Just thought I’d pass that along in case you might have the same problem! I’m anxious to try your window-cleaning solution. It sounds great!

  8. 29

    Kathy says

    This is the only window cleaner I use, indoor and outdoor.
    When using on indoor windows, there is no need to rinse with water, just wipe with paper towels, or newspaper, whatever you like to use.
    Never leaves streaks. The best window cleaner ever!

  9. 30

    Window Cleaning Manchester says

    I agree that vinegar, water and detergent are the best mixture for window cleaning. I do recommend it to everyone.

  10. 31

    says

    I have been really using a lot of home made products rcently. I just cant stand the smell of the chemical stuff and Im finding the home made stuff works better! I love it! Thanks!!

  11. 33

    Tina says

    I have a lot of shrubs and plants in my flowerbed. Will this mixture hurt any of my shrubs or plants if it gets on them? Thanks!

  12. 34

    says

    it is so easy really i also very upset about my house window glasses but now i am going to try this also and i am very shore i am not getting upset this time thanks for the tip. Share more tips with us like this. :)

  13. 35

    Maureen says

    I just used this recipe. OMG! My window have never been this clean.
    I cleaned my glass patio table and it sparkles now!
    I will never again buy a chemical, store bought window cleaner again.
    THANK YOU!!!!

    • 36

      says

      Yay Maureen!

      Isn’t it wonderful to see clearly? ;) To be able to see a real change, makes cleaning outside windows so much more fun!

  14. 37

    Andrew says

    I am looking to make a homemade window cleaner to refill the bottle of my empty Windex outdoor window cleaner. It’s the one that attaches to the end of the hose. Will this solution do the trick?

  15. 39

    Amy says

    Amazing!!! Worked great! Wiped down the inside too, then went over it with a clean wet cloth! Crystal Clear! No More Oklahoma Red Dirt for we on my windows!

  16. 40

    Carl says

    I’ve tried similar vinegar solutions, some with alcohol, some with just a drop or two of dish detergent, but this mix beats them all! I have a large bay window that I can’t reach without a ladder so I used this solution with a long-handled siding brush then rinsed well with the hose and the results were amazing. As I waited for it to dry it seemed like there were some areas that would leave spots but low and behold … it dried sparkling clean with no streaks or spots!!! So nice and easy not needing a squeegee, newspaper or anything to wipe it down. I used Dawn detergent and I think it’s the extra soap that allows this to dry so clear. I also washed early before the sun hit the window which I think helped. Thank you for the very best window cleaner ever!!

  17. 41

    Pete says

    This solution works. Period. I’ve tried them all. The trick for me was not getting all hung up on squeegee’ing my exterior windows, some of which were basically impossible to reach. I just sprayed the windows with a garden hose and nozzle, applied the solution liberally with a soft brush+extension pole (I bought a car washing brush which is super soft), gave the windows a GOOD scrub and then hosed them down thoroughly. Done. Unbelievable. They look way way better than when I used the squeegee (which would inevitably leave annoying streaks) and you can go way way faster. Half the time. Awesome tip. Thanks.

  18. 42

    Fishpotpete says

    Not to be picky – but this is not chemical free. Besides the water, both the dish detergent and the vinegar are harsh chemicals that just happen to be “chemicals” that we don’t associate with being harsh when used as intended. I love this recipe as well and highly recommend it. But it always irks me when someone says it’s “chemical free” just because you are using something that’s under your sink already.

    Here’s the formula for a common dish soap (Sodium Laureth Sulfate): CH3(CH2)10CH2(OCH2CH2)nOSO3Na. Here’s the one for vinegar (acetic acid): CH3COOH – plus water.

    • 43

      says

      Thanks for pointing that out Fishpotpete. I’ll edit the text to correct that. And you’re right, I wasn’t thinking of dish detergent as being harsh chemicals.

  19. 44

    Frank says

    I’m a professional Window Cleaner. Your suggestion will not work especially if you clean them in the sun unless you rinse them afterward with purified mineral free water. (Deionized, Distilled).

      • 46

        Neil says

        I wonder if there’s an attachment one can place on a garden hose that’ll clear out the minerals. Seems the drying water with any minerals will leave deposits. Something is used in car washes that’s “streak free.” I can’t reach my 2nd story windows without getting killed to dry them and I’d love to simply use the hose after washing them with your solution. Thoughts?

        • 47

          Neil says

          …I forgot to say. There are a lot of beautiful photos on your replies. Ladies, you wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning your windows if I was around your area. I’d gladly care for your windows. Smile.

        • 48

          Kathy says

          First time I’ve endorsed a commercial product but if you have hard rusty water like we have try the Windex outdoor a lll in onr cleaning pads. They come out spotless after rinsing (which should be done before they dry). They are by far the best product we’ve ever used and one pad does our entire lakefront home with many large windows! Good luck.

  20. 50

    BornInaZoo (Bonnie K.) says

    OMG! This did wonders on my windows. I have tilt-wash so I can clean the outside from the inside, but have NEVER been able to get them clean. They are clean & STREAK FREE now on the outside. Now have to find such an easy way to do the inside!

    • 51

      Dodie says

      I have just cleaned my windows outside and inside using the same solution [vinegar, dawn, water]
      and they are just fine. Did not have a hose inside (of course) but they came out great.

  21. 52

    Christine says

    I use a similar solution in a spray bottle for cleaning window screens. 3:1 water to vinegar and a drop of dish soap to help lather it up. Spray on screens then wipe gently with a damp cloth, then rinse in the shower or with the hose. Works great!

  22. 53

    says

    Great blog! In addition to using a great solvent as your base, you occasional need a little stronger cleaning “power.” This is because some dirt and debris are very stubborn and difficult to remove.

    In my window cleaning business, located near Minneapolis Minnesota, we regularly use a product that will take off caulking, paint spray, bug goo, and almost anything else from glass including the minerals left from hard water. We use this on many Construction Clean Up homes each year to remove the debris left over from installation, and painting. What is this product???? Steel Wool. But don’t run to your kitchen sink to grab the course brillo pad that you clean your dishes with, we want something less abrasive that gets the job done. Next time you’re at Home Depot, Menards, Lowes or your favorite home improvement store, head to the painting section and grab a pack of #0000 Steel Wool. This is the finest grade available and will not scratch your glass.

    We first apply our solvent, and then starting in the upper left corner with the steel wool, we scrub the window using a circular motion. After that we use our Unger Ergo Soft Squeegee to remove the water from the glass leaving a streak free sparkling window.

    A few examples can be seen on our website http://www.unitedcleanmn.com, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/UnitedWindowCleaningMN

    Hopefully this will help you achieve the sparkling clean glass you deserve!
    Ryan Doliber
    United Window Cleaning
    612-730-3920

    ***Don’t use steel wool on tinted surfaces, or plexiglass! Those are plastic surfaces and will scratch easily. Follow the manufacture’s proscribed method for those types of surfaces.***

  23. 55

    BILL says

    I see that I am the only male that does windows. I will certainly tyry this… Thanks

  24. 56

    sharon says

    pls tell me how much water, how much vinegar,cornstarch and rubbing alcohol.
    thx

  25. 57

    John M says

    Sounds like this works, though as a pro window cleaner, I find that unless you have soft water, most hose water will leave nasty white spots when it dries unless squeegeed off – though a cloth can work too for a small area. .

    • 58

      Sami V. says

      I used this recipe and method today on my outside window, all in the shade, on a nice 60 degree day. It cleans the dirt off and is pretty easy, as long as I stay out of the spray from the water. I let my windows air dry and now that I look, I see white spots where the water drops dried. I would definitely recommend using a squeegee to get the water off. I’m now on the look out for a squeegee with a good sized handle. This is still way easier than newspaper (which I never have lying around) or paper towels, so maybe with a few tweaks it will be awesome!

  26. 59

    R says

    I live on the 6th floor of an apartment with large sliding glass doors for windows. I’m right by the busiest highway in the state. I have not touched the soot and grime on my outside windows for SEVEN years. I mixed this solution and put it in a bucket used a regular dishwashing sponge to was the windows and a spray bottle of water to rinse. AMAZING!!!!! The sheeting action of watching the water just glide down was so mesmerizing I almost ENJOYED my domestic moment!!!

      • 63

        nancy Cramblit says

        Toilet bowl cleaner is even easier. Just wipe the window using one rag then a clean one to dry it. Sparkle sparkle and no rinsing or scrubbing. Discovered this in 1975 trying to put myself through college with a Window cleaning business that summer!

  27. 64

    Kathleen Lynch says

    I have been using this solution for a long time and it’s just great. Windows are always shining after cleaning. Highly recommend it Kathleen

  28. 65

    Robert says

    Windex has silicon in it. So it leaves a film, which causes the glass to get dirty faster. So you use more chemicals. Funny how that works.

  29. 67

    Linda Barker says

    Thank you soooo much for the detailed description of washing the outside windows, and your miracle recipe. The fact that you also added the exact pole and brush you used to Amazon, was a life saver. Thank you from the bottom of my tired little heart, Know that you were my lifeline with this blog. Thanks again !!!

  30. 70

    says

    Great tips, including all the follow-up comments. I’ll be happy to break up with my squeegee. The rinsing was the missing element in my previous efforts–who knew? Thanks!

  31. 71

    Alilassy says

    I just used this – worked brilliantly!! I just wanted to say I bought a cheap broom with medium to soft bristles as my scrubbing brush – that way I didn’t need handle – I had one boy scrubbing and the other squirting with a hose – it took about half an hour. Truly terrific. And I used the cheapest vinegar. The glass pretty much is sparkling!! Now I will tend to the inside tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe.

  32. 73

    Mel says

    I put a squirt of Jet Dry in my water with this recipe. Makes the rinse water bead up and drip off. Did it on a cloudy day and my windows just sparkle!

  33. 75

    Jen says

    This will streak!!! DO NOT USE SOAP!!! I used this recipe and as soon as the sun came through the glass I noticed the horrifying mess.

    • 76

      says

      Hello Jen,

      Make sure it’s rinsed thoroughly. Other than that, I’m not sure what to tell you. It’s been tried and true for us.

  34. 77

    Wendy says

    WOW is all I can say!! My windows have never looked so sparkly. Thank you, thank you. On another note for a tip for those with 2nd floor windows. I have a cab over raised bungalow which has my master bedroom over the garage. To find a long enough pole and still using a ladder was not easy as I am very short…. However, I improvised using a golf ball retriever that golfers use to get their golf balls out of water hazards. I broke off the end part and attached a squeegee/lambswool type window cleaning system I purchased a few years ago that slide onto the extension pole it came with. The pole is not long enough to reach a 2nd floor window. The golf ball retriever pole is. ;-)

  35. 78

    Leslie Lambert says

    We just remodeled and I did not want to buy commercial mirror and glass cleaners. I used Palmolive for the soap in the recipe. I thought a clear water rinse would be required for interior mirrors and glass, but not the case. Just a little spritz on the mirror, wipe with a dry cloth, and the mirror and glass is smudge free and clear. Thank you, Amy.

  36. 79

    says

    Which is actually better for the the environment, liquid or perhaps
    powder detergent regardless of whether home made or company made.

  37. 80

    bh says

    Thank u soo much! You showed me how to reduce the time i spend cleaning outside windows from 3 hours to 45minutes. This worked really well. I did it on a 75degree, slightly overcast day at 6pm, sun strong but c;louds coming in.;

  38. 81

    Janet says

    Thank goodness I found your blog. I did our outside windows yesterday (yes, on the Fourth of July!) and today I’m working on the inside ones. When you said my windows would be “film free” and “streak free,” I thought, Yeah, right. But Yeah, right!!! Your solution works. I love that it’s a home concocted recipe, and I love not using all those paper towels. I have already experimented on the inside windows putting old bath towels on the sills to catch the dripping water, and the results are quite amazing. The window panes almost look like there’s no glass there. So clear! I will be doing our windows this way from now on, and will be telling my friends. Thank you so much.

  39. 82

    Residential Cleaning Company says

    Every thing is to the point, and that was really appreciated. Nice work done……

  40. 83

    says

    hello,
    thank you for this recipe, i want to give it a try.
    are you saying that you do not dry it after you rinse??????
    that would be awesome and a lot less work!

  41. 84

    Al M. says

    My best concoction is: 50% Clear Vinegar & 50% Isopropyl Alcohol…. it has been my experience that Vinegar deletes the action of Soaps….[If you have too much suds, add Vinegar and they'll be eliminated].

  42. 85

    tasha says

    I need something like this for car windows please help. The people i got the car from were smokers and theres a film on the windows

  43. 87

    Cory Waltmathe says

    I have read a random blog that uses this exact window cleaner, too. I am now convinced. Your window looks so clean and clear, and that’s awesome! For all the people out there who hates vinegar as a cleaning solution, this one is for you.

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