How To Clean Glass

There is something very gratifying about having cleaned dirty glass. Glass is most frequently used as a window onto the world. The glass is a lens and as such ought to be clean.

Everyone who wears glasses will understand this principal. Dirty spectacles are maddening and have to be cleaned immediately. This is also true of a car’s windscreen.

However, glass has some other uses besides being a lens. Glass is used to allow natural light to enter; stained glass is used to paint a picture; toughened glass is used for table tops and glass is used to make ornaments and drinking vessels.

The thing is though that because glass always has some type of interaction with light, we like to see it clean and it annoys us when we see dirty glass. Dirty glass is a sign of neglect, a sad sign that no-one cares about it.

So, a relevant question is: how do you clean glass? We probably all think that we know the answer to this question and we probably all can and do clean glass, but which are the best ways to clean glass?

There are dozens of spays and chemical solutions on the market and you probably have your particular favourite under the sink right now, but there are also traditional mixes that can be made from ingredients found in most well-stocked kitchens.

However, before moving on to the liquid to use, we will talk about the equipment for applying the cleaner. We will talk about windows as they are by far the biggest glass objects that most people have to clean.

Mix your liquid in a bucket and then transfer it to a spray bottle, if you like. One note on safety here: never take a bucket up a ladder, it can topple you over. Some people prefer to spray the liquid cleaner on and then scrape it off with a squeegee – a rubber blade like a car’s windscreen wipers, others prefer more traditional techniques.

Before the squeegee, all professional window cleaners, myself included, used a square of scrim, which is like sacking. I used a square of scrim which was about 18 inches square, but the size you use should make a comfortable ball in your hand. I used this to apply the solution, and I used a large cotton rag to wipe it off. This is an excellent combination which creates excellent results.

Other people swear by newspaper, but I have never seen a professional doing his rounds with a bundle of newspapers. Having said that, my wife and our neighbours all use newspapers to clean the windows and the results are equally as good.

There are certain weather conditions that you ought to avoid when planning cleaning windows and they are rain and hot, direct sunlight. You can still clean windows in the rain, after all you will still be removing the dirt, but people do not like it. They seem to think that you have ‘got away with something’, somehow done less of a job and to be honest, it is harder to tell, if you have done a good job and drying off is just about impossible.

In hot direct sunlight, the liquid will dry off too rapidly, so in effect you are merely moving the dirt around and hoping that most of it will stick to the scrim. Therefore, the morning and the evening are the best periods to clean glass.

We used to use a dash of plain washing up liquid and a cup of methylated spirits in a bucket of water to clean windows and it worked a treat for all the windows or two or three houses before it needed changing, but other people have different suggestions, some of which I have listed below.

Vinegar and water mixed at a ratio of 4:1 and rubbed on with newspaper. Dry off with newspaper too.

Ammonia, washing-up liquid and water applied with newspaper (wear rubber gloves).

Equal parts of methylated spirits, paraffin oil and water applied and dried off with cloths.

Owen Jones, the author of this article, writes on a variety of subjects, but is now involved with round glass dining tables. If you would like to know more, please visit our website at Solid Oak Dining Tables.

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