With spring in full bloom and the sun wandering the sky more than half of every day, it might be an appropriate time for you to let all the light indoors that you can by washing the windows. With assistance from the National Safety Council and the folks at Simonton Windows, here are some tips to help put your best squeegee forward.
Never use a high-pressure spray: The extreme pressure could crack or destroy caulking. Instead, take the time to clean the windows individually. If you have windows with vinyl frame, a soft cloth or ordinary long-handled, soft-bristle brush and some mild detergent may be all that's necessary to maintain your windows. Do not use abrasive cleaners that may scratch the frame or glass.
Stain removal: To remove stains on vinyl windows and door frames (such as bubble gum, felt-tip pens, lipstick, motor oil or top soil), try using Fantastik cleaner. For tougher stains (such as tar, pencil, or oil marks) use Soft Scrub. If the children decide to draw on the windows with crayon, Lestoil can often remove their creative efforts.
Tilt-in windows: When it's time to replace your windows, order those with a tilt-in feature. All cleaning takes place inside the home, so ladders are not necessary.
Clean the stripping: Vacuum around the edges of your weather stripping to remove dirt buildup. Carefully vacuum window screens regularly instead of removing and washing them.
Sock it to them: Recycle old white cotton socks and use them for cleaning windowsills and frames. Slip the socks on your hands and you can "feel your way" toward a cleaner window. Try using a light combination of vinegar and water to gain sparkling glass.
Don't tamper: Never insert nails or screws in the interior or exterior of a window frame to hold up holiday decorations or lights. Window frames should never be tampered with or they can lose their ability to function. There's also the chance that something inserted in the frame could compromise the energy efficiency or even puncture the waterproof channel of the frame.
Polishing brass: If you have brass hardware on your windows, use a dry, clean, soft cotton cloth in a well-ventilated area to remove dust and dirt from the protective lacquer coating on the hardware. Over time, all brass hardware eventually develops tarnish when the protective coating breaks down. When this happens, remove the hardware from the window and use fine steel wool soaked in a light oil or soapy water on the hardware. Restore the clean hardware's luster with polish and then apply several coatings of a quality automobile wax.
Buddy system: If you do have to use a ladder, work on the buddy system. Have someone hold the base of the ladder and secure it on a level surface. Avoid loose-fitting clothing (which could get stuck in the ladder), and wear close-toed shoes or sneakers. For ladder-safety tips, go to www.consumerreports.org; search for "Tips for safer ladder use."
Here's a "Q" tip: Over time, dirt may accumulate on window edges and corners. To remove the buildup, use cotton swabs dipped in vinegar. Be sure to thoroughly rinse with water afterward.