clean outdoor windows in minimal modern living room

How to Get Outdoor Windows Sparkling Clean—Cheaper, Better, Faster!

Are you tired of peering through grimy, streaky outdoor windows? I know the feeling! But don’t worry … I’ve uncovered some secrets to achieving sparkling clean outdoor windows without the hassle or hefty price tag. Get ready to banish those streaks and let the sunshine in.

Garden with Lavenders and Greenery with Mountains Covered in the Snow on the Background

We moved into our new Colorado home just in time to experience our first Rocky Mountain spring. No words can describe this adequately, but this picture does a great job.

The thing I noticed the first time I walked into this house—the windows. Countless panes framed our new view and every one of them dirty. It seemed as though they had never received a proper cleaning.

I did my due diligence in researching a local window cleaning service near me. For sure we would have to pay to have these outdoor windows cleaned properly. Foolishly I assumed it would be one and done.

The price was ridiculously high, but the job got done, and the clean outdoor windows sparkled. But not for long. And that’s when I set out to discover the best (easiest, fastest, cheapest, sparkliest) solution for keeping our outdoor windows not just dust-free but sparkling clean.

Surprise. It’s not with Windex, paper towels, newspaper, or other methods I may or may not have recommended in the past, which produce a big mess—dripping, soggy, dirty paper towels, and windows with streaks that can be difficult to remove.

Get Outdoor Windows Sparkling Clean

When to clean outdoor windows

Selecting the appropriate day is a crucial initial step when it comes to cleaning exterior windows. Avoid cleaning them on an overly sunny or hot day; the heat and sun can cause your window cleaning solution to bake on the window. Choosing overcast days, colder weather, early mornings, or evenings is recommended as these are more conducive to cleaning exterior windows effectively.

The right tools

I have invested in the right tools to clean outdoor windows quickly and efficiently. You can find similar items at your local big-box store, home improvement center, or online. For your convenience and also so you can see what I’m referring to below, I have provided Amazon links for each of these specific tools.

Scrubber

This scrubber comes with a handle that can be attached to a pole, which you will use to wash the window. The key here is the microfiber.

Silicone Blade Squeegee

A squeegee with a silicone blade is far superior to rubber as it will not crack or tear. And it produces a streak-free result with no skips.

Combo Scrubber Squeegee

You can get the scrubber and squeegee two-in-one option, where both of these tools are attached to one handle. It’s all a matter of preference. I like to use this combo option for the low windows I can reach easily with a step stool. However, I’ve found that when attaching it to a pole for high windows, it is awkward to turn the thing around to switch tools while they are attached to the top of a very long pole. As you may have guessed, I have both the combo and the separate scrubber and silicone squeegee.

Bucket or Tub

This doesn’t have to be gigantic, just a container of a shape and size large enough to dip the scrubber into easily. The scrubber is 11 inches wide, so you want a tub or bucket that is at least 12 inches wide for easy dipping of your scrubber. This dishpan works well for me.

Scrubbing Brush

A scrub brush is essential for tackling outdoor window cleaning tasks with ease, especially when dealing with stubborn grime. From reaching into difficult areas to scrubbing away tough dirt, a scrub brush ensures a sparkling clean window without scratching or etching the glass.

Blue Dawn

I’ll bet you already guessed this would be the cleaner of choice. You’re right, and you can find Blue Dawn in any supermarket or discount department store like Walmart, Target, and online.

Microfiber cloths

Microfiber cleaning cloths are soft and non-abrasive; will not scratch glass or painted surfaces. They clean outdoor windows well without chemical cleaners and leave lint- and streak-free results. And the best part—good quality microfiber absorbs many times its weight in water. You can rinse and reuse cloths like these hundreds of times, too.

Extension Pole

You’ll need only one pole if you use the combo scrubber/squeegee for second-story windows. I choose to use a separate scrubber and squeegee for high windows, which requires two poles.

Note: Extension poles come in different lengths, so be sure you get the one(s) that will meet your needs.

DIY Window Cleaning Solutions

Once you’ve gathered all the right tools for the job, the next step is finding the perfect window cleaning solution. Luckily, I’ve got you covered with these homemade window cleaner recipes. Whether you’re tackling indoor grime or outdoor dirt, these simple concoctions will leave your windows sparkling clean.

All-Purpose Window Cleaner Recipe

Say goodbye to streaky windows with this versatile all-purpose window cleaner recipe. Made with simple ingredients you likely already have at home, it’s perfect for keeping your windows sparkling clean and clear.

Here’s what you’ll need:

How to use:

  1. Pour the ingredients into a spray bottle, labeling it clearly for future use. Give the bottle a good shake to mix everything thoroughly.
  2. Spray the solution onto your windows, covering them evenly.
  3. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe away the solution, starting from the top and working your way down.

*You can substitute denatured alcohol, which is available in the paint aisle of any home improvement center, for isopropyl rubbing alcohol in this recipe.

You can find a printable version of this all-purpose window cleaning solution recipe below.

Outdoor Window Cleaner

This outdoor window cleaner is perfect for those hard-to-reach windows, especially when you’d rather avoid climbing a ladder. You’ll need a hose with a good spray nozzle, a scrubber (I recommend this one from Amazon), and a long-handled pole for those out-of-reach spots. Remember to tackle this task on a cloudy day for optimal results.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup rinse aid like Finish by Jet Dry
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol
  • 1/4 cup non-sudsing household ammonia
  • 1/3 cup any powdered automatic dishwasher detergent, like Cascade Complete
  • 2 gallons hot water

How to use:

  1. Pour all ingredients into the bucket and mix well until combined.
  2. Spray windows with the powerful spray nozzle, knocking off dirt, grime, and debris. Set the hose aside.
  3. Dip your scrubber of choice into the solution and get it fully saturated. Don’t wring it out.
  4. Scrub the window thoroughly in all directions, making sure you reach the corners.
  5. Spray the window again with clean water.
  6. Let dry.

That’s it! Both the dishwasher detergent and rinse aid will create a “sheeting” action, to leave windows clean and streak-free. You can find a printable version of this outdoor window cleaning solution recipe below.

Safety Concerns?

When it comes to safety issues for pets and plants that might come in contact with this cleaner as it is rinsed away, I cannot say for sure what you should expect.

What I know is this formula has not damaged in any way anything growing in the area of the windows I’ve cleaned.

Here’s why: many landscape fertilizers contain ammonia, and the ingredients in this cleaner are significantly diluted in the 2 gallons of water used. Additionally, they’re further diluted when rinsed away.

After cleaning, I make sure to thoroughly hose off the deck, especially areas beneath windows near plants, to dilute any remaining residue. If you have concerns, I recommend conducting your own research for peace of mind.

A (Not So) Secret for How to Remove Hard Water Stains

During my first encounter with a professional window cleaning service, the technician let me in on a little secret: Brite & Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover. This gem of a product is like magic in a bottle – it zaps away even the most stubborn hard water stains with ease, leaving surfaces gleaming and me wondering why I hadn’t discovered it sooner! Despite its “As Seen On TV” origins, this stuff is the real deal – trust me, I was skeptical too. You can grab a bottle at your local Ace Hardware or order online for sparkling results without the hassle.

How to Clean Outdoor Windows Like a Pro

Step 1

Fill a tub or bucket with the outdoor window cleaning solution.

Step 2

Dip the scrubber into the soapy water and shake so that it is not dripping. Apply it to the glass from left to right, starting at the top. Make sure you get into the corner then move in a backward S-pattern (if you’re left-handed start at the top right) over-lapping, back and forth, until you have passed over the entire window.

Step 3

Switch quickly to the squeegee. Starting at the top left corner, wipe from one side to the other in the same backward S pattern, until the entire window is clean and dry.

Step 4

Using a good microfiber cloth, reach into all corners, being careful to wipe the frame clean and dry and to catch any drops or drips you may have missed.

That’s it. Fast and easy—with amazing results.

Because you are using so little water with this method, window-washing ceases to be the big, dirty, messy job you may remember. And that’s a good thing for me because I am learning another new thing about living where we get four distinct seasons and the altitude is 5,280 feet. Windows don’t stay clean for very long due to the winds and the wide-open high plains.

Say Hello to Sparkling Clean Windows

Dishes get cleaned, clothes get washed, and floors get mopped. But for some reason, windows hardly ever get scrubbed so they sparkle. No wonder your openings to the outside world are covered in a layer of dirt and maybe a few smudges, too.

Thankfully, you don’t have to live with an obstructed view. It’s not difficult to learn how to clean those super grimy windows. Make this part of your spring cleaning ritual, and your clean outdoor windows will be clear and perfect in time for all that summer sunshine, coming at us just around the corner. Want to lift your spirits, clear your mind, and beautify your space? Get out there and wash some windows.

Your world is about to get even more beautiful!

 


The photo above is not the view from our windows but rather taken from about 40 minutes west, on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is our Spring backyard view …

back yard flower garden with hardscape landscaping

back yard garden with clouds in the sky and green grass

flowers fresh blooms in spring time

A close up of a flower garden through a clean outdoor window view

Yep … right in our front yard!

hot air balloons on residential street with blue sky and green trees

spray bottle clean outdoor window diy cleaning solution
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 5 votes

All-Purpose Homemade Window Cleaner

Say goodbye to streaky windows with this versatile all-purpose window cleaner recipe. Made with simple ingredients you likely already have at home, it's perfect for keeping your windows sparkling clean and clear.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: DIY Household Cleaners, Make Your Own
Cuisine: Housekeeping
Servings: 20 ounces
Author: Mary Hunt

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol*
  • ¼ cup white vinegar 5% acidity
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 drops dishwashing liquid, like Blue Dawn
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  • Pour the ingredients into a spray bottle, labeling it clearly for future use. Give the bottle a good shake to mix everything thoroughly.
  • Spray the solution onto your windows, covering them evenly.
  • Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe away the solution, starting from the top and working your way down.

Notes

* Can't find rubbing alcohol? You can substitute with denatured alcohol, which you can find in the paint aisle of any good home improvement store. Can't find that either? Substitute rubbing alcohol with gin or vodka.
outdoor window cleaning solution recipe squeegee and yellow glove
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Outdoor Window Cleaner

This outdoor window cleaner is perfect for those hard-to-reach windows, especially when you'd rather avoid climbing a ladder. You'll need a hose with a good spray nozzle, a scrubber (I recommend this one from Amazon), and a long-handled pole for those out-of-reach spots. Remember to tackle this task on a cloudy day for optimal results.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: DIY Household Cleaners
Cuisine: Housekeeping
Servings: 2 gallons
Author: Mary Hunt

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dishwasher rinse aid, i.e. Finish by Jet Dry
  • ½ cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, or denatured alcohol
  • ¼ cup household ammonia, either sudsing or non-sudsing
  • cup any automatic dishwasher detergent powder, i.e. Cascade Complete
  • 2 gallons hot water

Instructions

  • Pour all ingredients into the bucket and mix well until combined.
  • Spray windows with the powerful spray nozzle, knocking off dirt, grime, and debris. Set the hose aside.
  • Dip your scrubber of choice into the solution and get it fully saturated. Don't wring it out.
  • Scrub the window thoroughly in all directions, making sure you reach the corners.
  • Spray the window again with clean water.
  • Let dry. That's it! Both the dishwasher detergent and rinse aid will create a "sheeting" action, to leave windows clean and streak-free. You can find a printable version of this outdoor window cleaning solution recipe below.

Notes

Note: When it comes to safety issues for pets and plants that might come in contact with this cleaner as it is rinsed away, I cannot say for sure what you should expect.
What I know is this formula has not damaged in any way anything growing in the area of the windows I've cleaned.
Here's why: many landscape fertilizers contain ammonia, and the ingredients in this cleaner are significantly diluted in the 2 gallons of water used. Additionally, they're further diluted when rinsed away.
After cleaning, I make sure to thoroughly hose off the deck, especially areas beneath windows near plants, to dilute any remaining residue. If you have concerns, I recommend conducting your own research for peace of mind.

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6 replies
  1. Melissa says:

    5 stars
    I’m going to make the indoor wash first. I’m just curious as to how the cornstarch helps. Is it to help keep all the liquid ingredients mixed evenly?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      It does not keep the ingredients mixed evenly. It will separate between uses, so you must shake it well before use. Cornstarch is slightly abrasive and remains that way even when introduced to liquid. It can scrub and loosen dirt particles without damaging delicate surfaces and leave them squeaky clean. I’m sure there’s a lot more science to it, but that’s good enough for me 🙂

      Reply
    • Paul (that Kiwi Guy) says:

      Simple… the driver prioritises staying alive instead of visiting (permanently) a graveyard.

      Reply

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