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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500200

Window Glass--Cleaning

In cleaning windows to remove soil and grease use an alkali, such as ammonia or baking soda or washing soda.

To remove hard water deposits and some soils, use a weak acid such as vinegar (a strong acid would etch the glass).

Never combine an acid and an alkali to clean glass. One partially neutralizes the other and you waste these neutralized materials. Thus do not mix vinegar and ammonia; use one or the other in your water solution to get the full effectiveness of the one product used.

One popular "recipe" from a commercial product suggests combining ammonia (a moderately strong alkali), baking soda (a mild alkali) and vinegar (a weak acid) in water to clean glass. It gives good results but you could get the same result by just using less ammonia without the weaker alkali and the neutralization of the vinegar and part of the ammonia.

Be careful not to drip alkaline or alcohol solutions on painted or varnished woodwork as it can damage the finish.

Wring out a cloth, sponge, or chamois almost dry before wiping the glass surface. Dry the wet surface with newspapers, paper towels, window wipes, or a chamois. Try not to drip cleaning solution on woodwork. Avoid washing windows in direct sunlight because they tend to streak and are more difficult to clean.

Rubber squeegees with long handles are useful for reaching large or high windows. When using a squeegee, stroke from top to bottom. Wipe the squeegee after each stroke. Also convenient for cleaning hard-to-reach windows is an extension wash brush (available in automobile supply stores). The wash brush can be attached to a garden hose.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with reference from Mary Ellen Delsipee and Isabel Jones, previous Extension specialists.

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This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

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