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Warming Up to Spring: Cleaning Tips for Your Windows and Doors

By Gates Dearen

Labor Day Spring Cleaning
Labor Day Spring Cleaning (Photo credit: BooleanRadley)
When it comes to cleaning your windows and doors, or any major cleaning project such as one’s annual Spring Cleaning, it pays to take heed to the carpenter’s adage: “Measure twice. Cut once.” What do I mean? Ideally, before embarking on your cleaning chores, get properly prepared. Be sure to check your existing cleaning supplies and make a detailed list of the things you need to purchase before getting to work. Basic home cleaning supplies can include an all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, natural cleansers such as baking soda and vinegar, and stronger products to tackle tougher tasks such as removing mildew in grout.. You may want to visit your local health or whole foods market, many of which have “Green” cleaning products. And you’ll need a supply of sponges, rags, cloths, towels, scrub brushes, rubber gloves, toothbrushes, squeegees, buckets, aprons, eye protectors, safety ladder, etc. If you like to whistle while you work, make certain your portable music player and/or home system is ready to go. Or just whistle or sing to yourself.

Why do we embark on such multi-phased projects as spring cleaning? We all want and can appreciate a clean home. The windows and doors are especially important, as they are the first thing, and the last thing you see when you leave in the morning and return later in the day. Unless you’re one of those rare persons who enjoy scrubbing away at layers of dirt, many of us approach spring cleaning as a chore with nearly the same dread as configuring taxes. (Hmm, is it a coincidence we have to do both of them around the same time each year?) Personally, I like to think about spring cleaning chores as part of my process of annual renewal. And remember, you’re not alone in your annual quest for clean. For centuries, numerous cultures around the world have had annual spring-cleaning rituals that mimic the cycle of birth and renewal. The bottom line: Spring cleaning can be good for your physical health as well as your emotional well being.

For centuries, numerous world cultures have had annual spring cleaning rituals, some of which precede important spring holidays.

Before I shed light on the subject of how to clean your windows and doors, keep in mind that whenever possible, you want to open up your home to natural lighting and fresh air. In general, most people tend to shut themselves in during the winter. This is less so here in Florida, but none the less, keeping your home buttoned up all winter exposes you and their family to potential pollutants; combustion by-products from stove tops, incense, fireplaces as well as building material chemicals. All of these can lead to adverse health issues. So while you’re in the midst of your spring cleaning tasks, aerate your home by creating cross ventilation channels. Open the windows and doors on opposite sides of your home for about 30 minutes to help replace that stale old air with new fresh air. If your spring time is buggy, leave the screens on your windows. If pollen is a problem, take your medicine or natural remedies in advance, or grab a mask, and/or make your aeration time shorter.

Now roll up your sleeves and let’s get started.

Window Cleaning: No "Pane," No Gain

Spring cleaning
Spring cleaning (Photo credit: Geir Halvorsen)
Always start with your exterior windowsills and frames first. Begin by brushing them with a soft brush to dislodge dirt and grime. In general, you should always start by dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming away any dirt and dust before you attack it with a wet cloth. Then grab a large sponge with a solution of one part hot water (wear gloves!) and one part white vinegar. I believe it was in the “Farmer’s Almanac” where I first read you shouldn’t clean your exterior windows in direct sunlight. Why? The sun will dry and evaporate the cleaner before you can wipe it away, creating streaks. That said, finish by pulling a squeegee vertically down your window panes in long, overlapping movements. Another way to avoid streaking is to clean windows with vertical strokes on one side and horizontal on the other, which allows you to better see which of the two sides has the streaks, if any, thus avoiding having to repeat the process both inside and out. About that squeegee: If you have very tall windows, you can find models that can take extension handles so you can easily reach the higher parts of your windows. If you have a multi-level home, follow common safety procedures when using your ladder. Before you begin this process on the inside, make certain to lay old towels along the windowsills to catch any drips.

Leading With Blinds

Don’t forget that twice a year, you should wipe your wooden blinds with a few drops of gentle wood cleaner you’ve dabbed onto an almost dry sponge. Wash your aluminum blinds outdoors.  It’s best to place them on a surface that slants, and scrub them with water and a noncorrosive cleaner. Use a hose with decent water pressure to rinse well and make certain you dry them thoroughly to prevent rust. Yes you can get drying help from the sun.

Doorways to Havens

Feng shui Luopan compass
Feng shui Luopan compass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Those of you who read my previous blog about doors, “Do Front Doors Make a Statement About Who You Are?” will recall I cited ancient Chinese Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) concepts about how different colors denote one’s personality and can help bring certain types of opportunities. Did you also know clean exterior doors (and porches) invite positive energy and prosperity into your home? That alone should get you motivated to do your doors.

Just like your windowsills and frames, you first want to remove loose or semi-caked on dirt. Your vacuum cleaner works well here. Simply attach the nozzle and run it around the door trim, frame and, if you have them, along the contoured edges or recesses on the front and inside of the door to remove large debris, cobwebs, those big ol’ dust bunnies stuck in the seams, etc. Now it’s time to clean. Again, if want a good, eco-friendly, affordable cleaner, simply mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, as I mentioned earlier. Open your door and moisten the entire door with the cleaning product or mixture of choice. If you come across some extra tough stains or grease, I’ve found that mineral spirits usually get the job nicely. Follow the instructions on the container and be certain the area is well ventilated. Use your cleaning product of choice to clean your door’s windows and panes, following the instructions above for windows. You can use a squeegee or recycled newspapers to dry them streak free. Don’t forget to clean the little spyhole glass as well. After you’ve done your “wet wiping,” grab a clean cloth or sponge to remove dirt, debris or fingerprints. Just as with your windowsills and frames, you may need a fresh coat of paint or varnish. Time to consider a new look?
One Door, Two Faces
One Door, Two Faces (Photo credit: imchaudhry photo)

Forget the Hardware? Hardly!

To create a spectacular shiny look, use a brass or steel polish on your door’s hardware. Follow the directions on the container and make certain you’ve wiped away all the polish when finished.

Voila! You’re done. Take a nice little break, then identify and plan for your next spring cleaning task. Once you’ve finished, you can reward yourself by enjoying a “Green” St. Patty’s Day or attending the numerous festivals and events that spring up during this season.

In this article, I discussed some of the concepts as to why most human cultures engage in some type of spring cleaning. More importantly, I provided effective, easy ways to clean your windows and doors, in most cases using simple, inexpensive products. I’ve also presented some ideas on the benefits of the process and how to get started. If you found this article useful, pass it on to your friends and neighbors. If you have a comment related to this article, please post it in the comment section of this blog. It's been my pleasure informing you about how to spring clean your windows and doors. I look forward to our next visit.
Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds real value to a home. Their approach is a little different. They strive to match the homeowner with the right windows and doors for their home and budget. They know home improvements can be a hassle. They aim to provide high-value choices and money saving options with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-winning installation employing the best, time-proven practices with personnel who respect your home as if it were their own. 
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