Washing windows can be a messy job, but someone has to do it. If that someone is you, here are six easy steps to help you do the best job possible with the least amount of time and money.
STEP 1: Pick a cloudy day in the morning or late afternoon for window washing. Direct sunlight makes the cleaner dry too quickly, causing streaks.
STEP 2: Gather your supplies: A bucket, rubber gloves, window cleaner, large sponge, squeegee and newspaper.
STEP 3: Prepare a batch of home-brewed window cleaner. There are many recipes for window cleaner, and this one works as good as or better than all I've tested. (You can make a gallon for about 50 cents.) Pour 2 cups rubbing alcohol and cup sudsy household ammonia into a gallon jug. Fill it with clean water. If you have hard water, use bottled spring or drinking water for this window cleaner. Add 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap (such as Dawn or Joy) last so that soap bubbles don't make it hard to fill the jug with water. You can add a drop or two of blue food coloring to differentiate this from a jug of water. Be sure to label the container and keep it out of the reach of children.
STEP 4: Apply the window cleaner. Before washing interior windows, put an old towel along the sill to keep the floor or wall from getting wet. (For only slightly dirty windows, you can get away with applying the cleaner with a spray bottle.) For very grimy windows, pour cleaner into a bucket, dunk your sponge into the cleaning solution and wring it out so that it isn't dripping wet. Move the sponge over the window and cover it with the solution, scrubbing as you go in a circular motion.
STEP 5: Immediately remove the window cleaner with a squeegee using the professional window washer technique: Place the squeegee in a vertical position at the top left corner of the window. Draw it to the right side but don't stop. Using one continuous "S" motion, move it back to the left, working side-to-side until you reach the bottom right corner. This step is the fun part, and once you get into the rhythm you'll zip through a window in just a few minutes flat.
STEP 6: Even the most careful squeegee job is going to leave some of the window cleaner behind. Not to worry. Simply wipe this up quickly with a crumpled sheet of newspaper.
HINT: If your windows aren't that dirty but you want them to sparkle, try this: Mix cup cornstarch with gallon warm water. Follow the instructions above and your windows will glisten like diamonds.