Windows are made from glass, and there is a huge industry dedicated to keeping them clean – from toxic window cleaning products sold in shops to professional window cleaning services to those who clean listed sash windows. There are of course the windows on your car. But how much do you know on how to actually keep windows clean and sparkling? Choose unscented brands for pregnancy/nursing or near pets. Never place foliage near glass windows, as this confuses birds. Removing it can help stop birds flying into windows.
Newspaper is not actually a good idea, as it leaves ink stains. This is because the oil used to make the ink years ago has now been replaced by chemicals, and although it’s still okay for glass, it could permanently stain wooden frames.
Often windows are cleaned outside, so any toxins will remain on the outside and get washed down storm drains and into the sea (same with down the sink inside the house). Windolene (the main brand of window cleaner( can be irritating and cause drowsiness and dizziness, and also is toxic to aquatic life. Take it to the toxic waste department at your local tip, and choose something better instead.
How to Clean Your Windows Naturally
- First, begin by sweeping away dirt with a dustpan and brush (ideally on a cloudy day).
- Then use a biodegradable dish wash to clean the windows. Alternatively you can use Bio-D Glass & Mirror Cleaner (also in bulk and refill) for less dirty windows, apply with a dry cloth (this can also be used on stainless steel). Wear Fair Trade rubber gloves to protect your hands.
- Elmkind Eucalyptus Glass & Chrome Cleaner is made with natural ingredients, and scented with real essential oils. Designed for glass, mirrors and chrome, it has a subtle fresh mint scent and is sold in an aluminium bottle, with concentrated refills (1 bottle diluted makes 2.5 litres of cleaner). 5% of profits from this company go to nice little charities that help animals and the planet.
- Delphis Glass & Stainless Steel Cleaner is one of the best brands, used by professionals. It’s B-corp certified (the best you can get), biodegradable and safe in septic tanks. Free from phosphates, it can be applied in direct sunlight, but avoid on hot surfaces. Suitable for glass, sinks, pans and appliances – it’s quick to dry.
- Use a plastic-free wooden squeegee with a silicone blade. You can use this to also clean your mirrors, tiles and shower screens. It has a good action, and a tree is planted for each one sold.
- Dry the windows in a z-shape using a compostable cloth (do this vertical inside and horizonal outside – then you know which streaks you’ve missed).
- You can make your own glass cleaner: mix equal parts of cleaning vinegar (not food-grade) and water, then spray on the glass (soak bird droppings for 20 minutes). You can also use this mix to remove mineral deposits on cars. The best way to avoid toxic cleaners on your car windows is to protect the windscreen the night before with an old car mat (secure with the wipers). To stop the use of toxic ice removers, park east (this will naturally defrost your car during early morning).
What About Professional Window Cleaners?
Window cleaning is actually one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, and many have lost their lives. Today, safety experts recommend scaffolding over ladders. It’s important to keep windows clean, because dirty windows reduce natural light and heat (higher bills) and also the dirt can mean the glass won’t last as long.
If you work as a window cleaner, switch to biodegradable brands. This is good business, not just good for the planet. London’s Eco Window Cleaning uses a purified water fed pole system for excellent results, and only uses purified heated water, rather than toxic products. They add minerals to gently cut through dirt and grime.
The highest density of window cleaners is in New York City, due to all the skyscrapers. However, they have quite a complicated job – one window cleaner once had to remove 10 gallons of strawberries that had been tipped out of a window, and froze to the glass.