Saturday, September 13, 2008

The How-to of "Wet Work": Windows and Mirrors

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then windows are the eyes of the home. Nothing detracts from an otherwise lovely room like dirty windows.

Window washing is best accomplished by two people simultaneously washing the same window: one inside and one outside. But this is not always possible, so we will concentrate on single-person washing.

Gather your tools:
1) a bunch of old newspapers
2) a spray bottle
3) white vinegar (¼ cup)
4) water (2 cups)
5) dishwashing liquid (5-10 drops)
6) waterproof bucket or bin
7) indelible market

Tear or cut the newspapers into ¼ sheet pieces.

Combine water, vinegar, and dishwashing liquid and pour into the spray bottle.

Using the indelible marker, write “window cleaner” on the bottle. This is not only an aide de memoir, it is a good safety measure to prevent people from using the mixture as a plant misting solution or something of the sort. It is also helpful to write the “recipe” on the back of the bottle so you will have it handy for reference when you need a refill.

Washing up
Start with lower windows or, if it is sheet glass, at the bottom of the window. Spray liquid mixture onto window, making sure the sills and mutton bars are already clean (if they are not, clean them first). Slightly crumple the newspaper and, using a circular motion, make sure the entire window, including the corners, gets wet. Discard the wet paper into the bucket or bin.

With a dry, slightly crumpled piece of newspaper, polish the window with a circular motion until it shines. You may need a second piece of newspaper. If, after your best efforts, the windows look streaky, you need to add a bit more liquid soap to your mix. Streaks are often caused by wax and other chemicals left from cleaning the windows with commercial preparations and you need a bit more soap to clean them off. Once you get them clean, all of that gunk will be gone for good, provided you continue using this mixture for window cleaning.

Spray the next window and repeat.

The cleaning solution for mirrors is the same as for windows, but the technique is slightly different.

When cleaning mirrors, take care not to allow cleaning solution to get onto the frames or into the joint where the mirror meets the frame. Cleaning solutions can damage frames with moisture that you can’t remove or damage some finishes. Spray a cloth with cleaning solution, wipe the mirror, and polish with newspaper.

Defogging bathroom mirrors
Fogged up bathroom mirrors are a nuisance. Commercial products exist to prevent mirrors from fogging but they can be both costly and difficult to find. Try this very simple alternative:

Dishwashing liquid (full strength)
Two soft cloths (pieces of old towelling are perfect)

Apply a small amount of dishwashing liquid to a small cloth. With a circular motion, rub this onto the mirror. Coat the entire mirror, leaving swirls of the soap visible.

With the second cloth, rub in a circular motion to buff the soap off, and polish.

When you next step out of the shower, use a clean cloth to wipe the condensation off the mirror. Underneath the mirror will be sparkling and fog-free!

Next: Floors and carpets: getting them clean, keeping them clean.

1 comment:

Jan 4 Insight said...

Your advice is competent and thorough - a great resource for the housework-challenged like myself:-)

However, I question - the use of "commercial liquid fabric softener" in the shine solution. Commercial fabric softeners contain a number of hazardous chemicals, and many people are highly sensitive to these products. I'm looking forward to the day they are banned for their toxicity. Do have a non-toxic, green alternative for this solution?