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How Often Should Windows Be Cleaned?

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woman cleaning the exterior of a window

Author Image Written by Jessica Wimmer Updated 04/05/2024

Your windows provide natural light and ventilation to your home’s interior, but they become dirty over time. Dust, grime, fingerprints, and pollen can build up and reduce your home’s curb appeal.

Clean your windows when you notice dirt or smudges, or about once per month. Most professionals recommend a full residential window cleaning twice per year, though commercial properties are typically cleaned more often. In this guide, we break down the best methods and tools to use and explain when it may be better to hire professional window cleaning services.

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Window Cleaning Frequency

Wipe down the interior of your windows any time they become smudged or dirty. This is typically a monthly task. However, you may need to clean more often if you have children or pets. 

Cleaning your exterior windows from time to time can improve their appearance and lengthen their life span. A clean window is slightly more energy-efficient, and you can limit your long-term window replacement costs by keeping up with cleaning.

Plan for a thorough cleaning every six months—once in spring and once in fall—for most windows. However, some outside windows benefit from more frequent cleaning.

Factors Influencing Window Cleaning Frequency

Consider washing your windows more often if the following environmental, geographical, or material factors apply to your home.

Environmental Factors

  • Trees: Windows in areas with lots of trees typically get dirtier because of pollen, sap, leaves, and other debris.
  • Insects: High insect activity can mean more cobwebs or nests on or near windows.
  • Weather: Weather can also dirty windows—high winds kick up dust and dirt, and precipitation of all kinds leaves behind streaks. Most homeowners have their windows cleaned as the weather turns warmer in spring and then again in fall to wash away evidence of summer storms.

Location Considerations

  • Traffic: If your home is located near a busy street, car traffic can send more dirt into the air.
  • Construction sites: Living near a construction site can have the same effect.
  • Snow: Snow plows can toss road salt, gravel, and other debris toward windows in areas that experience heavy snowfall.
  • Hard water: Hosing down your windows with hard water, which contains extra minerals, often leaves streaks as the water dries. Take extra care when rinsing if your home has hard water.

Window Type and Material

  • Window screens: While all types of glass windows require regular cleaning, those without exterior screens are subject to more debris and insect activity and thus require more frequent cleaning.
  • Window frames: Window frame material also makes a difference. Vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, and composite can all be wiped down with a mild cleaning solution, but wood requires extra care. Wood must remain sealed and painted in order to keep moisture out, so it needs more maintenance than other frame materials.

Establishing a Window Cleaning Schedule

The easiest way to ensure your windows stay clean is to implement a regular window cleaning schedule. Here are the tasks to take on each week, month, and season.

Weekly Cleaning

If the interior of your windows is prone to getting dirty, wipe them down with a mild glass cleaner once per week. Use a microfiber towel or other lint-free cloth to remove smudges, fingerprints, and streaks from the inside surfaces of your windows.

Monthly Cleaning

If your windows aren’t subjected to paws, wet noses, or curious little hands on a regular basis, monthly interior cleaning is often sufficient. Even if you clean weekly, you may want to set aside a few extra minutes once per month to do a more thorough job. Start with a dry cloth to wipe off any dust or dirt in nooks and crannies. Follow this with a wet glass cleaner, and clean both the window panes and frames. These solutions typically don’t need to be dried. However, you can use another dry cloth to wipe away excess solution for a particularly streak-free finish.

Seasonal Cleaning

You’ll need to remove your window screens and gather a few tools to complete a full exterior cleaning. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Bucket
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Microfiber towel
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sponge or window scrubber
  • Squeegee
  • Terry cloth rag

Fill the bucket with water and mix your own cleaning solution by combining 1/4 cup dish detergent and 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol for every 2 gallons of water. Wet the sponge or window scrubber, wring out excess liquid, and wipe the glass—work from top to bottom. 

Then, switch to the squeegee, scraping it at approximately a 30-degree angle to the glass. You can use the squeegee to create horizontal or vertical swipes. Either way, work from top to bottom. Wipe the squeegee’s edge with the terry cloth rag between every swipe. When that’s finished, give the glass one last dry with the microfiber towel and replace the window screens.

Additional Tips for Clean Windows

Here are some extra tips for window washing.

If you have casement windows or double-hung windows with tile hinges, you can often completely clean your windows from the inside. Partially open the casement windows or hinge down the double-hung windows on their tracks and wipe the exterior surfaces.
A hot, sunny day isn’t the best time to clean windows because the cleaning solution may dry too quickly and leave streaks behind. Instead, wait for a cloudy but dry day with temperatures in the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit.
If you need to defrost or clean the outside of your windows when the weather is cold, use lukewarm to cool water. Throwing hot water on cold glass could cause it to crack.

DIY vs. Professional Window Cleaning

Cleaning your windows is often a DIY task. However, some homeowners may want to hire professional window cleaners for the project.

DIY Window Cleaning

Do-it-yourself window cleaning is a simple task that takes only a few inexpensive tools and no specialized skills. The hardest part is accessing the windows. Safety is paramount, particularly if you’re working above the ground. Practice proper ladder safety if you need to use a ladder to clean your exterior windows. Place the ladder on level ground and have another adult hold it while you work. Never attempt to clean exterior windows by sitting on an open ledge and leaning out.

For more tips, check out this video showing you how to wash windows like a pro:

Professional Window Cleaning

There are a number of reasons to hire professional window washers. You might not want to deal with allergens on exterior windows, or you may want to skip the hassle of doing the job yourself. Experts who work for window-washing companies often have years of experience and can do the job more quickly and efficiently than homeowners, particularly when it comes to washing windows on the second story or above. 

Residential and commercial window cleaning is available nearly everywhere in the United States, and the cost of window cleaning is usually between $150 and $300 for a whole home.*

*Cost data sourced from HomeAdvisor.

Our Conclusion

We recommend monthly interior cleaning and twice-yearly exterior cleaning to get the most out of your windows. Affordable window replacement is available, but keeping your windows clean will help them stay functional longer and allow you to enjoy natural light and outdoor views. We recommend professional window cleaning in the spring and fall if you’d rather not take on the job yourself.

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FAQ About Window Cleaning Frequency

How often should I clean windows in areas with high pollution or smog?

In areas with high pollution or smog, you should clean the exteriors of your windows up to three times per year. If you still notice buildup between cleanings, consider cleaning your windows more often.

Can dirty windows affect the energy efficiency of my home?

Dirty windows can reduce your home’s energy efficiency slightly by blocking natural light that would otherwise warm your home. This is less of a concern with energy-efficient window replacements.

What happens if you don’t clean your home’s windows?

If you don’t clean your windows, small particles of dirt, acidic precipitation, or other contaminants can slowly corrode the glass. Dirt and grime in the window’s tracks and machinery can make it more difficult to open and close.

What is the best month to wash windows?

Spring is typically the best season to wash windows, but the best month depends on where you live. The weather should be overcast and warm but not hot.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when cleaning windows?

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when cleaning windows:

  • Cleaning when it’s too hot or sunny outside
  • Drying with a rag instead of a squeegee
  • Failing to dust first
  • Trying to clean too large an area at once
  • Using the wrong or too much cleaning solution

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