Angie's List Report: Window Cleaning

Clean, streak-free windows can enhance your home, but cleaning them yourself can be dangerous and it's a chore many of us don't look forward to tackling.

Experts say you should clean your windows twice a year, ideally in the spring and fall, but a lot of people do it in the summer because it’s warmer.

"What many people don't realize is getting streak-free window is sometimes harder than it looks. Also, window cleaning can be rather dangerous. It's similar to gutter cleaning - if you don't have the right equipment, if you don't have a high enough ladder. We hear way too often of people falling off of ladders and having to head to the ER. So, if you don't have the equipment, hiring someone to have it done may be the best option,” said Angie Hicks, consumer expert with Angie’s List.

If you're a do- it-yourselfer, most glass can be cleaned with soap, water and a squeegee. However, some situations will call for specialized cleaning solutions and using the wrong one could be ineffective or cause damage. For example, double glass windows are held together with a vacuum that could be compromised if the rubber trim that seals it is damaged by the wrong type of cleaner.

If you have a two story home with a lot of windows, you may want to leave it to the professionals.

"When hiring a window cleaning company the cost is typically factored by the number and size of windows, also whether your house is one story or two story. If you are looking for ways to save money you might consider cleaning the first story windows yourself and leaving the difficult to reach ones to a professional,” says Hicks.

Make sure those professionals don't leave the window open for possible legal action.

"When you're hiring someone, obviously checking their experience is going to be really important but also insuring that they have insurance, workers compensation insurance on their employees because if they don't and one of their employees gets hurt on your property, it's going to be a claim against your homeowner's insurance policy,” says Hicks.

If you clean the windows yourself, do it during a cool, cloudier time of day. The hot sun dries windows faster, which can lead to streaking.

Small panes and leaded or stained glass are best cleaned with plain water and specialized window cleaning cloths to avoid damage.

Additional Angie's List Window Cleaning Tips:

  • Most homes should get a thorough window cleaning twice a year - ideally in the spring and fall.

  • A thorough cleaning can help remove caked on dirt, dried paint, adhesives and calcified water spots, as well as muck from the frames, which can cause windows to stick if allowed to build up.

  • The type of cleaning solution and equipment you need varies according to the type of windows you have. With dozens of types of glass, windows often require special cleaning agents and using the wrong one could be ineffective or cause damage. For example, double glass windows are held together with a vacuum that could be compromised if the rubber trim that seals it is damaged by the wrong type of cleaner. If the seal breaks, moisture and dusts can get in the window, making it impossible to get clean.

  • Most glass can be cleaned with soap, water and a squeegee. However, some situations will call for specialized cleaning solutions.

  • Large panes are best cleaned with a squeegee and a window cleaning detergent solution and finished with detailing cloth to eliminate streaks. Small panes and leaded or stained glass are best cleaned with plain water and specialized window cleaning cloths.

  • Minimize the need for extra cleaning by not taping or sticking anything to your windows you don't want to leave there permanently. If you're painting, protect your windows from drips or splatters.

  • Window cleaners have the right equipment to take off glue, paint, and other debris that can settle on glass. If you have tinted windows, it takes extra care to clean them. The cleaning of windows also includes the screens and wiping clean the sills.

  • If you hire a pro, make sure the company is insured. Because a lot of window washing involves ladders, safety harnesses and scaffolding, precautions are essential to ensure everyone's protection. A lot of damage can be done to glass by someone is who not qualified. You need someone who not only knows how to clean glass, but knows glass and how to maintain in properly.

  • Window cleaning prices vary and are often based on the number and size of windows, the time estimated to do the job and the complexity of the job. You could save a few bucks by cleaning the first floor windows yourself, and leaving the second floor, more difficult to reach windows, to a pro. If you clean the windows yourself, do it during a cool, cloudier time of day. The hot sun dries windows faster, which can lead to streaking.


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