How to clean windows and leave them streak-free

A window being cleaned with a cloth to demonstrate how to clean windows
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Knowing how to clean windows may seem like a straightforward task at first. But, the fact is all sorts of stains can end up on the glass, be it watermarks, fingerprints or general grime, and these can be tricky to remove. Even if you manage to remove these marks, grease can leave smears on your window, which just won’t buff out. By the end, the whole chore can seem counterproductive, and you may leave things looking worse than when you started, a bit like when you attempt to clean a glass stove

But don’t worry — with the right products and method, your windows can look as new once more. The good news is windows are actually one of the easier things to clean, and you can get crystal clear results in a matter of minutes. Giving your windows a clean is also one of 9 bright ideas on how to bring light into your home. Here, we take you through exactly what you need to do and answer any questions you may have along the way.

If condensation often forms on your windows, here are 9 ways to get rid of condensation inside your windows. And beware of these 9 things you should never clean with a pressure washer.

How to clean windows 

What you'll need

Microfiber cloths

Sponge (optional)

Dish soap or

White distilled vinegar or

Glass cleaner


T-bar and squeegee (optional)

1. If you’re cleaning windows from the inside, the first thing you’ll want to do is remove any dust and cobwebs. Wipe over the panes using a dry microfiber cloth and around the frame and sill. Don’t forget to open the window to give any hidden crevices a once over too. For extreme cases you can also use one of the best vacuum cleaners with the soft brush attachment. 

2. Close your window once finished. There are a couple of methods you can now choose from depending on the level of dirt:

A microfiber cloth dusting the frame of a window

(Image credit: Future)
  • For everyday cleaning, run a damp microfiber cloth over the panes and apply warm, soapy water if necessary. Rinse the suds away with a damp cloth.
  • For more stubborn marks, stick to the soapy water, but apply using the rough side of a sponge instead. Don’t be too aggressive as you scrub; you don’t want to scratch the glass, but be persistent and keep applying soap until the mark dissipates. Rinse with a damp microfiber cloth.   
  • If you want to use a home remedy, then white distilled vinegar is another option. You can dilute it down in a spray bottle using one cup of vinegar to one cup of water. Then apply to the pane and wipe with a microfiber cloth. For stubborn stains, you can also leave it to sit for a minute or two before wiping away. Rinse afterwards with a damp cloth. 
  • You can also use a proprietary glass cleaner, such as Windex Original Blue Glass and Window Cleaner ($7.78, Amazon). Follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.   

White distilled vinegar being sprayed on a window pane

(Image credit: Future)

3. If you want to speed up the drying process and save yourself some microfiber cloths, you can also use a squeegee to wipe away any excess water. Just be sure to have a towel on the floor or sill to collect any run-offs and have one to hand to dry the squeegee between swipes. 

4. Dry using a buffing motion with microfiber cloths. Be sure to work in different directions to avoid streaks, and keep adjusting the cloth to dry sections to save yourself from reapplying the water. You can also use paper towels to do this. 

5. If streaks are still apparent, rinse and repeat from step 3 — this is likely residual soap. Your windows should now be looking pristine from the inside, now it’s time to tackle the outside. 

6. You’re likely dealing with a larger surface area here, so you’re going to need a bucket and some larger lint-free cloths. It’s also best to do this on a cloudy day, otherwise the sun can dry your results before you’ve had time to remove the streaks. 

7. The size of the panes means using a spray bottle would be impractical, so standard glass cleaners are out of the window (pun intended). You’re going to want to fill the bucket with warm, soapy water or distill some white vinegar with water in there.

A squeegee being used on a window pane

(Image credit: Future)

8. You can apply your solution with a cloth as above, but a much easier method is to use a T-bar and squeegee, such as the MR.SIGA Professional Window Cleaning Combo ($16.99, Amazon). With these you can apply your cleaner to the pane with ease, and then rinse and wipe away quickly. 

9. When wiping with a squeegee, try to work in an S-shaped pattern from top to bottom, being sure to go over where you started, and finishing against the edge. That way, you won’t be left with any annoying water marks.

10. Dry if necessary. Your windows should now look pristine. Remember to clean them regularly to make this chore less of a hassle.  

What is the best thing to clean windows with?

There’s no right answer to this. Dish soap and water will generally suffice for most stains, but white distilled vinegar is another popular and sustainable method. Vinegar is also great for cutting through limescale, so it’s ideal for watermarks. This is why it’s recommended in our guide on how to clean a glass shower door

For more cleaning tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on how to clean a washing machine, how to get rid of mold and how to wash a pillow. And if you're looking to spruce up your windows, we can tell you the pros and cons of blinds vs. curtains.

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.