Angie's List: Spring cleaning starts with sparkling windows

Tips for keeping your windows clear and bright

TAMPA - Even the cleanest home won't truly shine without sparkling windows. It's a twice-a-year job, ideally in the spring and fall. Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, the nation's premier provider of consumer reviews, said washing windows is one of the best ways to freshen up your home for the new season. "We recently talked to our Angie's List members about spring cleaning and what they plan to tackle. Fifty percent said they are going to be doing some spring cleaning with a third of those respondents saying cleaning the windows was at the top of their list."

Window cleaning benefits any house. Not only does it help make the house's appearance more aesthetically pleasing, it also helps remove grit and grime that builds-up on both the inside and outside surfaces. Angie's List, talked to window cleaning pros for advice on cleaning them properly and safely:

  • Frequency of cleaning: Most homes should get a thorough window cleaning twice a year – ideally in the spring and fall. You may find your windows need cleaned more often if you live on a busy street or near saltwater. Letting salt stay on the glass too long will eventually damage the glass.
  • Which cleaning method is best? The type of cleaning solution and equipment you need varies according to the type of windows you have. With dozens of types of glass, windows often require special cleaning agents and using the wrong one could be ineffective or cause damage. For example, double glass windows are held together with a vacuum that could be compromised if the rubber trim that seals it is damaged by the wrong type of cleaner. If the seal breaks, moisture and dusts can get in the window, making it impossible to get clean. Most glass can be cleaned with soap, water and a squeegee. However, some situations will call for specialized cleaning solutions. For smaller windows where a squeegee is too large, use a lint free towel to wipe them clean.
  • Ideal weather conditions: If you clean the windows, do it during a cool, cloudier time of day. The hot sun dries windows faster, which can lead to streaking.

Professional window cleaner Matt Swales said glass left unclean can become etched over time and look hazy. "It's important to have your windows cleaned because windows are porous," he said. "Mother Nature - the mineral from things flying around - can absorb into the pores of the glass and stain it permanently. It could take costly extensive measures to get that staining out of glass."

Removing the dirt and grime from your windows is a difficult, time-consuming and a potentially dangerous job. Thousands of people are injured each year from ladder falls, and adding in buckets of soapy water and the need to stretch to reach corners increases the chances of an accident. Consider hiring a professional to do the job. Angie's List offers these window cleaning hiring tips:

  • Check insurance: If you hire a pro, make sure the company is insured. Because a lot of window washing involves ladders, safety harnesses and scaffolding, precautions are essential to ensure everyone's protection. Damage can be done to glass by someone is who not qualified. You need someone who not only knows how to clean glass, but knows glass and how to maintain in properly.
  • How do they clean windows? It's important to ask what types of chemicals and tools are used during the cleaning process, especially if your windows are tinted. Many companies will clean with eco-friendly materials upon request.
  • What's the cost: Window cleaning prices vary and are often based on the number and size of windows, the time estimated to do the job and the complexity of the job. Always ask for an in-home estimate.
  • Satisfaction guaranteed? Ask the company if they provide a money-back guarantee if you're not 100% happy. Most companies will offer one and some even offer a rain guarantee – so if it rains within a certain amount of time of the cleaning and your windows are spotted, the company will come back out at no charge to you.

Hicks adds, "If you are looking to save a few bucks you can still hire a window cleaner but consider dividing the job up. You can tackle the first floor windows that don't require special equipment. Leave the second story to a professional because they'll have the proper ladder."

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