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Living Smart: Spring Cleaning for Your Home Exterior

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By Angie Hicks

washing_windows(MCT)—Don’t let dirty windows obscure your view of nature in full spring glory. Whether you do the job yourself or hire an experienced pro, few home investments are as immediately satisfying as clean, sparkling windows.

Here are expert DIY tips that my research team gathered from top-rated window cleaners:

Start with the right supplies. If your windows are standard glass, not leaded or stained, and they aren’t tinted, you should be able to safely use commonly available window-cleaning products.

But you can always just clean with hot, soapy water and rinse with water and a small amount of vinegar to improve shine. Or, you can try these options:

—Combine a cup of rubbing alcohol, a cup of water and a tablespoon of vinegar.
—For glass that’s cloudy, try straight ammonia. (Don’t combine vinegar and ammonia, as they cancel each other out.)

Good wipe-down materials include paper or microfiber cloths and newspapers. Avoid plain, cotton towels, which will leave behind lint.

For cleaning hard-to-reach outside windows, consider an extendable tool with a telescoping handle that has a soft scrubber on one side and a squeegee on the other. Spray the scrubber with cleaning solution, clean the window and squeegee to remove the cleaner.

To more easily see streaks that will require a second shot of elbow grease, wipe the inside of glass in a different direction than the outside. For instance, go side-to-side on the inside and up and down on the back.

Here’s a tip if you find that your lower windows, or siding, have dark stains. Your mulch may be to blame. Cheap mulch may be infested with a fungus that, when mature, shoots black spores that stick to glass and siding and are hard to remove completely. If you have problems with this, consider switching to higher quality mulch.

Ideally, it’s best to clean windows twice a year. That may be reason enough to hire out the work, but there are other reasons to consider professionals, including the dangers inherent in working on a ladder.

In addition, expert window cleaners have the right supplies to more readily remove paint, glue and other material from glass. They also have experience in cleaning other window components and areas, including screens and sills.

They can also identify and deal with window problems, such as screen patterns etched on glass, sashes painted shut, screens that don’t fit right, clogged channels, non-working or damaged window weights in older windows, wood rot and insect infestations.

A pro may also be your best bet if you have specialty windows, including leaded glass, stained glass and tinted glass.

Before you hire a window cleaner, do a little research, since anybody can claim to be an expert in this area. Make sure the company has positive reviews on a trusted site, is appropriately licensed and insured, has proven experience, and is willing to provide a free estimate.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.

©2014 Angie’s List
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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