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  • Lauren Smith

How to Clean Windows — And the Big Mistakes You Might Be Making

Washing your windows is a tedious chore — so you want to make sure you get it right the first time. To avoid having to redo your work, we tapped from Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab to get her expert advice. Start by investing in the following items.

What You'll Need:

  • Hope's Perfect Glass Cleaner ($4,

  • microfiber cloth ($6 for a 3-pack,

How to Clean Windows

Before you spray, sweep dirt from the window, frame and screen with a brush or vacuum it up with your dusting attachment. This will prevent dirt from turning into a muddy mess when mixed with a cleaner. Then spray your window with Hope's Perfect Glass and, using a microfiber cloth, wipe one side of the glass horizontally and the other vertically. This will help you see if any streaks are forming. Repeat until you've covered your entire window.

Now, note these common mistakes before you start spraying and wiping.

5 Common Window Washing Mistakes

1. You choose a sunny day

"Do this job in the blazing sun and the cleaner will dry onto the hot windows before you get to wipe it off, leaving hard-to-remove streaks," says Forte. Instead, choose a dry, cloudy day. But if the sun's out and you're itching to clean, start with the windows on the shady side of the house.

2. You don't dust the sills and sashes first

Skip this step and any liquid that drips onto the window frames will create a muddy mess. Always vacuum the frame, sill and sash first before tackling the glass.

3. You don't use enough window cleaner

Don't be afraid to generously spritz your windows with Hope's Perfect Glass, especially if they are extra dirty. "You need plenty of cleaner to dissolve and suspend the dirt so it can be completely wiped away — skimp and you'll be seeing streaks," says Forte.

4. You use newspaper to dry

Some folks swear by this trick, but Forte has never had any luck using newspaper to dry windows. She finds it messy, ineffective and prefers microfiber cloths. "They are super absorbent, washable and leave the glass shiny and streak-free," says Forte.

5. You dry with a weak, linty paper towel

But if a paper towel is still your cloth of choice, choose one that's up to the task. There's nothing worse than drying with a towel that separates in two or leaves lots of lint on the glass. In our last paper towel test, Bounty Regular ($8 for an 8-pack, held up best and didn't deposit lint.

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