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How to get clean streak free windows and mirrors

Updated on August 8, 2013
Everyone hates dirty windows of mirrors. Luckily, there are some easy ways to clean them to get a dirt and streak free window!
Everyone hates dirty windows of mirrors. Luckily, there are some easy ways to clean them to get a dirt and streak free window!

The annoying streaks are everywhere!

We all have windows or mirrors in our homes that every once in a while need to be cleaned. Even so, every once in a while when we have important visitors we really want them to shine and be stain free. Unfortunately, for some reason, whenever we want the windows and mirrors to be at their best presentable state, we always find residues of various stains and, worst of all, streaks after putting down the hard work in polishing and cleaning the surface. It just seems that no matter what window cleaner we buy and what cloths we use, the streak devil always gets us.

Fortunately, there are some (easy) hints and tips (not involving dangerous chemicals!) that can be employed which results in stain free and streak free windows which will be described in this article.

Getting streak free windows and mirrors depend on the cleaner you use.
Getting streak free windows and mirrors depend on the cleaner you use.

1. Streak free windows and mirrors: The cleaner solution

We all know that the cleaning of windows and mirrors requires the use of some kind of liquid solution to dissolve the dirt, fat and other stains such that we may wipe them off (if you did not know this and have been cleaning dry surfaces, then it is definitely about time you started to use a cleaner solution).

The problem with cleaners is that it is difficult to choose from the wall of cleaners when we go to the mall. Which one does better than the other is something that is near impossible to answer for a consumer. Luckily by understanding why streaks occur in the first place, it is much easier to come down to an educated conclusion.

Origin of streaks and how commercial cleaner solutions work

The streaks that we commonly see on windows are not very often due to residual dirt, but rather they are caused by minerals in the water that we use, typically calcium. Therefore, whatever cleaner solution we use, we better make sure that it either removes calcium or does not contain minerals that can leave streaks. Fortunately, it turns out that most commercial window cleaner solutions are based on alcohol and water, and the water that is added is of low mineral grade. In technical terms, the cleaners work by the principle that ethanol or alcohol will dissolves fat and other non-polar constituents while the water in the solution will dissolve the polar constituents.

With the above in mind it therefore practically makes little difference to spend tons of money on an expensive windows cleaner solution as the base components are all the same, unless you have extremely dirty windows that require stronger chemicals to dissolve the dirt.

Ingredients for your own natural window cleaner solution

  • 1 part white vinegar: Make sure you do not use red vinegar as those can leave stains
  • 1 part water: Normal tap water

Home made natural cleaner work just as well to remove streaks

While commercial cleaners are easy to come by they are, however, always based on synthetic chemical to various extents. Therefore, it does make sense to make the window cleaner solution by yourself, in particular as it is so incredibly easy.

The window cleaner is simply made by mixing equal amounts of white vinegar and water. While this sounds incredibly easy there are actually many reasons why this works. As mentioned in the section above, the origin of the streaks on a window or mirror is due to calcium and minerals in the water which then dry up and form crystals resulting in streaks. Vinegar, which is acidic (sour), dissolves calcium and other minerals extremely well forming a very water soluble molecule. Therefore, the effect of vinegar is to actually neutralize the calcium and other minerals in the tap water, giving you a water that, in some sense, is effectively of low mineral grade.

Some cleaning tips to get streak free windows and mirrors.
Some cleaning tips to get streak free windows and mirrors.

2. Streak free windows and mirrors: Physical cleaning

Now that the use of a proper cleaner solution has been established, no matter if you choose a commercial cleaner or a home made cleaner, there are some tips worth considering when performing the physical cleaning steps to get rid of the streaks.

  1. The first thing to do should always to thoroughly wash the window. This step is particularly important for windows facing outdoors. For such windows, a sponge is most useful. Simply spray the cleaner solution onto the window in rich amounts and use the sponge to rub off all the dirt. For indoor windows, the amount of dirt on them often is quite limited and this step may be skipped. Once the dirt has been removed, wipe off the residual liquid using a towel, dry cloth or paper towel.

  2. This step can be considered as a brief cleaning step. Start by spraying the cleaner solution onto the window or mirror, but use much less amount than in the first step. Use a piece of clean paper towel or cloth to wipe off the cleaner. The purpose here is to remove any residual dust and stain that may not have completely have come off in the first step.

  3. This step can be considered as the polish step and also the most critical step to get streak free windows and mirrors. The trick here is to use a newspaper instead of a cloth or paper towel to do the polishing. Take a newspaper and crumple it up and use it to go over the whole window or mirror. The newspaper will suck up the residual cleaner solution very efficiently and at the same time leave a completely dry surface that will be absolutely streak free!

Depending on the state of your window, sometimes it is possible to skip some steps and also combine some steps. For example, if it is an interior window or a mirror, then it is very possible to skip step 1 and combine steps 2 and 3. In this case, simply spray the cleaner onto the surface, and instead of using a paper towel or cloth to wipe off the cleaner, directly use a crumpled up newspaper. Note, however, that if the surface is dirty, doing this will probably leave stains on your window as you would have distributed the dirt all over the surface.

Instructions at a glance to get streak free windows

  1. Use either a commercial cleaner or a home mad cleaner based on white vinegar and water. Do not only use water!

  2. Make sure most dirt and dust are removed from the surface by washing the window or mirror with the cleaner.

  3. For polishing up the window or mirror to remove all streaks, use a crumpled newspaper instead of paper towel or cloth.


If you followed the steps in this tutorial and used a proper cleaner then you should now have a completely streak free window or mirror! For convenience, a brief summary is provided to the right along with some key points that should be the take-home-message.

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