How to clean windows inside and out for a professional streak-free finish

Follow our easy guide on how to clean windows effectively for sparkling results every time

a clean window letting in light showing the importance of knowing how to clean windows properly
(Image credit: Getty)

Once you know how to clean windows properly, you'll have sparkling panes letting plenty of natural light into your home. If your windows are covered with dust, dirt, water spots, or splattered bugs, you won't enjoy maximum daylight at home, even when the sun is shining. 

Over time, grime and pollution accumulate on your windows, which can look unsightly and unhygienic. To make the most of your view and to keep your light-loving houseplants happy, washing windows should be at the top of your cleaning checklist

After all, once you have the rest of the place in great shape with a solid kitchen cleaning routine and have sussed out how to clean toilet stains thoroughly, you don't want to let your efforts go to waste with murky windows. While you're at it, check our guides for how to clean brass and how to clean copper so each room and its contents get a thorough and effective clean. 

Here's how to get crystal clear panes and the best finish for your windows...

What to use to clean your windows 

Fortunately, the process of how to clean windows is simple enough. With the correct technique, cloth, and cleaning products, your windows will be sparkling like never before. 

  • Choose the right cleaning product: You have three options here - we favor a commercial cleaner or a homemade solution.
    • Commercial window cleaners all promise to give you a streak-free shine
    • A homemade vinegar cleaning solution is made by mixing two parts of water with one part of vinegar in a spray bottle.
    • The classic soapy water solution is also a cheap and easy option for cleaning windows, using regular dish soap.
  • A clean sponge: A large sponge or squeegee will help you distribute the solution across the windows evenly.  
    A microfiber cloth to dry: While some people recommend using newspaper to dry window panes, you're better off using microfiber cloths because they're washable, highly absorbent and leave the glass windows shiny and streak-free. 
  • A clean, lint-free towel: This is your final step to dry the window completely and remove any streaks. 

dirty window with cleaning bottle spray in front to show how to clean windows with a cleaning solution

(Image credit: Getty Images / Catherine Falls Commercial)

How to clean windows - inside and outside

Cleaning windows needn't be an annoying chore with this easy nine-step process that will ensure your windows look sparkling – and are streak-free. We recommend cleaning both the outside and inside of the windows at the same time to complete your window-cleaning routine. 

1. Remove curtains and blinds

The first step to doing a deep window cleaning treatment is taking down curtains and blinds to prevent dirt and dust from falling. This also offers the perfect opportunity to give your curtains a clean to freshen them up.

"Not only do you want to avoid damage to them, but you’ll also want the full window exposed to properly clean all of it," explains Ivan Ivanov at End of Tenancy London.

You can clean most curtains in a washing machine, just make sure you check the label to ensure they go on the right cycle. Rinse curtains with cold water before you put them through the wash. 

To clean blinds (fabric or wood) gently use your best vacuum to remove all traces of dust. Use a damp cloth to wipe over the fixtures and fittings to remove any signs of dirt.

2. Sweep away dust and dirt

Before you start cleaning the glass it's important to tackle how to get rid of dust in your home because if you disturb dust after you've washed the windows it will stick to the panes of glass, undoing all your hard work.

Sweep dirt, dust, and any cobwebs from the window frame and the window sills using a dry brush or your vacuum's dusting attachment. This prevents dirt from becoming a muddy mess when it gets mixed with a cleaner. 

“Smears on windows can be very frustrating and ruin the appearance of your property but there are plenty of ways to ensure that they disappear. Most importantly, Make sure that you’re using microfiber or paper cloth to remove any dust before you begin," advises Adam Pawson, at window specialists Safestyle UK. Follow our tips on how to clean microfiber cloths to keep yours in tip-top condition, and ready to effortlessly clean glass panels. 

3. Mix up a natural cleaning solution

Woman holding tray with washing up gloves, sponge, cloth, lemons and vinegar to use for how to clean windows with natural products

(Image credit: Getty Images / Helin Loik-Tomson)

After dusting, it's time to start cleaning from the inside out. You can buy window cleaning products from your local store that offer a streak-free finish, or try out a homemade natural solution – which we have found produces the same sparkling finish. 

"I’d recommend using a spray consisting of one part distilled (white) vinegar to 10 parts warm water which can be applied directly to a cloth before being rubbed evenly against the glass," advises Adam. "For a bit of extra sparkle, sprinkle some baking powder onto the cloth before you add the solution and it will aid the cleaning process. If you have stubborn streaks which don’t seem to disappear, try going over the area with clean water to help remove any of the remaining solutions.”

Homemade cleaning solutions (most of which simply require vinegar or baking powder) are ideal for other cleaning jobs around the house too, such as how to clean a shower, how to clean the oven, and even how to descale a kettle.

4. Clean the glass panes

Now it's time to tackle the main attraction, the glass panes. Begin by putting something like a large bath towel or old sheet underneath the window to catch the spills. Pick your cleaning solution, which can be either a natural or shop-bought solution.

Spritz the window thoroughly with your chosen solution, or simply put a few drops of liquid soap in a bucket full of cool, clean water.

Obtaining a streak-free finish is the aim of the game here. And luckily, there are a few simple tricks you use to ensure a flawless result. Using a clean sponge or microfiber cloth, start wiping from the top of the window all the way to the bottom. When cleaning ensure you're working in an S-shape to help you get into every corner and avoid smears. 

Using a squeegee will also give you a streak-free finish. Ensure you're working in an S-shape, too, and regularly wipe the squeegee blade using a clean rag so that you don't smear dirt around.

Finally, wipe off the remaining water with a microfiber cloth or damp chamois and dry the window sill. Avoid using cloths or paper towels that might leave fibers on the glass. Use a clean, lint-free towel to dry the window entirely. If dirt or streaks are still visible, spray and dry again. 

Top tip: Use newspaper to dry your windows – the absorbency will ensure no moisture is left on the window to produce a streak-free finish. "Using old newspaper is an old wife’s tale, but it actually works," Ivan agrees. "Dry your windows with scrunched-up balls of it. It does a great job of drying your window while also alleviating smears."

5. Clean inside the window frames

“It can be easy to ignore our inner window frames but they are easily susceptible to becoming clogged with dirt and debris," explains Adam. "To tackle these hard-to-reach areas, start by opening up the window and take an old toothbrush to loosen any dirt, dust, and cobwebs that might be stuck in the frame. Then, use the hose of your vacuum cleaner to get rid of any debris before wiping the area down with an antibacterial product.” 

We recommend using the smallest attachment on your handheld best cordless vacuum to really get into the gaps to remove the debris before you start applying any cleaning solution – again this is to avoid making a muddy mixture.

6. Wash the surrounding frames

For a perfect finish, it's imperative to wipe down the surrounding frames – you don't want sparkling windows encased in dirty frames. “For uPVC window frames, marks and stains should come off with ease. Fill up a bowl with some warm water and washing-up liquid and use a soft white cloth to wipe down," advises Adam. But he warn, "avoid using a colored cloth as the dye can stain plastic.”

If you have original wooden framed windows follow the same steps but ensure your cloth is not too wet, to avoid soaking the frames – similar to the technique you would use when cleaning hardwood floors. A simple wipe will remove the silt-like dirt that builds up on the frames. Use your clean, lint-free towel to dry off the frames.

7. Clean window sills

An important last step is to ensure your window sills are in perfect condition. Use a handheld vacuum or cloth to clear the area in preparation for cleaning. 

Spray your chosen cleaning solution on the area and wipe with a sponge. You could try using a little baking soda on tough marks or build-up. Pop a drop of baking soda into your solution and allow the product to sit for 10 minutes before wiping it away. Use an old toothbrush and a little more baking soda to target any remaining marks. 

8. Clean window screens

If you have a window screen, now's the time to clean it. Start by rinsing it with plain water, then spray with the vinegar and water solution. Finish by rinsing it again with plain, clean water. Ensure the window and screens are completely dry before replacing them. 

9. Clean windows from outside

The outside of windows will typically have more grime and stains than the inside. "Windows from the outside often get a lot dirtier than the inside, so be prepared for this part to take a little longer," says Ivan. Depending on your house and the mechanics of your window, you may need to call in a professional to do this. If you can open your windows inwards, here are four easy steps you can take to clean them:

  1. First, rinse the windows, ideally with a hose. Then fill a bucket with cool, clean water, and add drops of liquid soap.
  2. Perform the same procedure of wiping down the surface of the window using a clean, soft microfiber cloth. Use the hose to rinse thoroughly. Spritz with the water, vinegar solution, or a commercial cleanser. 
  3. Use a clean, rubber-bladed squeegee to wipe dry the windows, ensuring that the squeegee is pointing towards the foot of the window and working from top to bottom. 
  4. If dealing with stubborn dirt and stains such as bird droppings, saturate the area thoroughly with the water and vinegar solution and let it stand for a few minutes before rinsing and drying it off. 

When is best time to clean your windows?

While some people think it's good to wash windows on a sunny day as the sun helps you spot smears and makes the windows dry faster, it's actually best to clean windows both indoors and outside on a cloudy day or at the time of day when the sun is not shining immediately onto the glass. This is because the sun tends to speed up the drying process, leading to the dreaded streaks.  

"We recommend cleaning your windows inside and out around once a month," says Ivan. "Dirt can build up quickly on the outside of the window, and the more baked-on the dirt, the more challenging it is to effectively clean them again. Save yourself annoyance in the future by getting on top of your window cleaning."

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.