Home Guru

Tips for Keeping Windows, the Eyes of the Home, Clean

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By Bill Primavera

Living happily at Trump Park in Shrub Oak, my wife and I were recently offered by management the opportunity to have our windows cleaned, a chore that hadn’t been done for about two years.

From our top-floor windows we look out at a glorious burst of green in summer and bright orange and yellow now. It is too beautiful a view to miss through a haze of dirt that had attached itself to the glass panes during the summer months.

Having just had the job completed, I feel as I did when I tried on my first pair of glasses for nearsightedness.

When I am inventorying a house as a realtor, looking for the best ways to stage a house for sale, I always look out the windows to make sure they are clean, a sure sign for gauging the upkeep of a property. Not only do clean windows show good care, but they also let in more light.

The first windows back in ancient Mesopotamia were literally just holes in the wall to let in light. And the purpose of glass windows, around since the Roman Empire, has remained pretty much the same, although today the new insulated windows also allow for heat and cool air retention.

The real purpose of windows, in my opinion, is to observe the bucolic joys of the landscape from inside. But with dirty windows, colors are dulled and, actually, less light enters the home.

When I lived in a single-family home, I used professional window cleaning services to get that job done, but the plan sometimes got delayed or forgotten, and I would get the foolish notion to clean some windows myself – but only on the first floor.

To do it, I always used Windex, which I have considered a miracle household product since I was a child cleaning my mother’s glass coffee tabletop with it. But lately, the “green” messages have been reaching me that the chemicals in it are not good for one’s health or for the environment.

Because the EPA does not require manufacturers of household products to list ingredients on their packages, who knows? I mean, didn’t it give you pause to wonder when you heard about those manic house cleaners who passed out from fumes while cleaning their bathtubs with household chemicals?

So, here’s the way to combat that fear with ordinary natural products around the house, namely vinegar or lemon. And the method makes good secondary use of your newspapers as well.

In a spray bottle, mix half with vinegar and half with water. Or with lemon juice, use proportions of one-quarter lemon juice and three-quarters water.  Spray the mixture on to the window pane. Then, take a single sheet of newspaper and crumple it in your hand, making a pad to polish the glass.

While I’ve heard that this system may not work as well as in newspapers’ heyday because of the change in the composition of the inks used, I found that it still works perfectly fine. Also, it is said that the ink leaves a film on the window pane, which makes it harder for dirt to cling to the surface. How about that for killing two birds with one stone?

If you’re more adventuresome about window cleaning than I, here’s a list of other tidbits of information about cleaning the “eyes” of the home:

  • *Clean one side of a window with vertical strokes and the other side with horizontal strokes so you can identify which side of the glass has streaks. Clever, huh?
  • *Wash windows on a cloudy day because direct sunlight dries the cleaning solution before you can polish the glass well.
  • *Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to clean corners.
  • *Eliminate tiny scratches on window surfaces by polishing the affected areas with toothpaste.
  • *Wash windows from the top down to handle drips on the way.
  • *And if you’re really fanatical about a window with a brilliant shine, rub a clean blackboard eraser over a window that has been just freshly washed and dried.

Because I lived in a historic home and wanted to keep the original windows intact, I added storm windows to create that air barrier that insulates, but that doubled the job. So I decided, bring on the professional window cleaners.

For years I had a handyman who cleaned all of my windows once a year for only $500, and he did a wonderful job. But, alas, when I called him to ask if I could recommend him for this article, he confessed that he gave up the service because he just didn’t like doing the job.

I understand his sentiment perfectly.

Bill Primavera, while a writer and public relations practitioner, is also a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate. To engage the talents and services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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