Wednesday, 3 August 2011

When we're cleaning windows...

Thank you for all your lovely messages regarding The Girl. Still just peachy and easy going. Hope it stays that way! 

In a feat of extraordinary organisational ability (for me, anyway), Monday turned out to be quite a productive day. My biggest fear was that being alone all day with two small children, my relatively new-found and quite fragile grasp of routine housekeeping would fall apart completely. Whilst the influx of new 'stuff' that comes with a new person has left us space challenged once again; the untidiness isn't catastrophic.

The windows at the back of the house have required cleaning for a while and Monday was a gloriously sizzling day. Whilst The Girl slept, The Boy and I knuckled down to righting the wrongs inflicted on our windows over the year (yes, a whole year since I last tackled them, slovenly I know) by salt and dust laden wind and rain, sticky fingers, kitty paws and more recently, wax crayon doodles.

The last time I tried to clean them I used a generous dose of Ecover washing up liquid and a terry nappy to wash the worst off, followed by a vinegar and newspaper buff. Unfortunately the dish soap had no effect whatsoever on the salt deposits and I gave up and just left them at that. Turns out the secret to clear unsalted windows is a tiny amount of Ecover (less than a teaspoon in a few litres of water) with a good slug of vinegar added at the washing stage. This even, with a little bit more elbow grease, got rid of the wax crayon doodles that I had expected would need to be scraped off.

If you can enlist a willing toddler to do most of the hard washing work for you, and just rewipe any bits that they miss, so much the better - though perhaps reserve their slightly sloppy efforts to the outside of the windows, unless you want a soaked carpet. I have been trying to get The Boy to take responsibility for the messes he has a hand in creating; and whilst it can be a running battle to get him to pick toys up or tidy away his laundry, he will engage happily in any household task that involves bubbles.

After washing down the windows thoroughly, a generous spraying with a 50/50 cooled boiled water/vinegar mix (we have very hard water around here, hence the boiling), buffed vigorously with crumpled sheets of newspaper, left them gleaming:

The ink from the newspaper did run and smudge on the plastic window frames, but it was nothing that a damp cloth and the vinegar solution couldn't remove.

We spend around £25 on cleaning 'ingredients' every year, excluding the laundry - about £14 of which buys a five litre bottle of washing up liquid (the current one has done a solid 18 months and is just running out), the remainder going on soda crystals (which also go in with the laundry), bar soap (any hard soap will do), bicarbonate of soda, citric acid, vinegar and a bottle of thin bleach (used very sparingly it lasts a few years), along with the odd replacement scrubbing brush/broom head. All of the cloths are re-purposed from old socks, t-shirts and terry nappies.These simple ingredients, used in the right way, allow even lazy me to make things sparkle with relatively little effort. Also, if you are smearing your windows with expensive chemical laden commercial cleaners that carry a room ventilation warning, toddler labour is something you just can't engage, another great reason to invest in a few cheaper, greener cleaning basics...

How do you clean your house?


  1. Hi, I've been reading your blog via Simple Green and Frugal and just had to say what a wonderful, clean and sparkling window. It has spurred me on to have a 'go' at ours, which have not been cleaned for - um - a long while!
    Enjoy your family.
    Love from Mum

  2. Thank you for coming by Mum. I never realized how depressing the grotty windows were - the view of the garden is very cheering now. Just got to summon the energy to do the rest of the house!

  3. Window cleaning is ideally done on cloudy days, when the sun is hiding and won't cause the windows to dry quickly. When this happens, it usually leaves behind unsightly streaks. The windows therefore have to dry naturally and gradually.

    Windows Newton MA

  4. I'm happy that your windows have a lively view now. How often do you clean them? Vinegar and soap may be good window cleaners, but they may not be as effective as specialized window cleaning solutions. If you want to finish your work first, then you may want to try them out.

    Sandra Ludwig