I will start this blog with a confession: I can’t remember the last time a bird lost its life trying to fly into one of my windows.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel bad about this. I happen to like birds. What I don’t like is washing windows. And as much as I’d like to use a love of ornithology as my excuse not to clean the grimy fingerprints, water marks, and face smudges, I must face the fact that my view of the world could be made clearer.
There are tons of opinions regarding streak-free window cleaning, and several very adamant camps. Newspaper vs. paper towels. Warm water vs. cold. Vinegar vs. dish detergent. It’s another reason why my windows are in the state they are in. What’s the right way?
The answer, of course, is obvious. There is no “right” way…unless you don’t clean at all. So here are a few suggestions I’ve learned to get windows and mirrors looking their best.
- For exceptionally grimy windows, add some vinegar or ammonia to the solution.
- Squeegees are wonderful.
- Wash the edges of the windows first, rinse, and then give the whole window a go.
- Not all newspapers are created equal, as the ink is not a standard solution. If you choose to use newspaper (as the scores of generations before us), you may want to change your subscription to one that doesn’t streak.
- If you can, avoid washing windows while the sun is shining on them, unless you can dry faster than the speed of light.
- Wipe vertically on one side of the window and horizontally on the other. This way, if streaks appear, you know what side they are on.
Side note: The Audubon Society estimates that up to one billion birds are killed every year by flying into glass. If you have a particularly dangerous window, you can install barely-noticeable UV decals on the glass. Also removing plants and lowering blinds are easy ways to help birds steer clear. And, alas, dirty windows are no guarantee you’ll save feathered lives.