How to wash windows and screens

Want to get the glass in your windows and patio doors really clean? It’s easier than you think.

“Many people use paper towels, strong cleaners and lots of elbow grease,” said Kathy Krafka Harkema, spokesperson for Pella Windows and Doors. “However, spraying glass with ammonia-based cleaners and wiping if off with paper can move dirt around and create a static charge, which attracts more dust and dirt. After all that work, your window may still look streaked or dirty,” she said.

When washing window or patio door glass, use a soft, lint-free towel, like a cloth diaper, an old kitchen towel or old linen napkins. 

Ammonia-based cleaning products may leave streaks or produce a film that attracts moisture or dust. Instead, use vinegar-based solutions.

Glass cleaner recipe

If you choose to make your own cleaner, try this simple, glass cleaner recipe: Mix one cup white vinegar with 10 cups of water. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and store leftover cleaner in a jug for future use. 

“Make maintaining and cleaning windows part of your annual home improvement checklist to help maximize your view and the overall performance of your home,” Krafka Harkema said. 

“Few things can transform the look of your home faster than washing a dirty window or patio door. You’ll enjoy the clear view, too,” she said.

It's easier to keep your windows and doors clean and functioning properly, thanks to innovations and handy tips from Pella. Follow these recommendations from the Pella experts to professionally clean glass windows, insect screens, blinds and shades and hardware:

How to clean windows and doors

  • Use a premixed vinegar-based cleaner, available commercially, or make your own by mixing one part white vinegar to 10 parts water and apply to the glass.
  • Use horizontal and vertical motions to wipe away the cleaner with a soft, lint-free towel.
  • Wipe up cleaner promptly to keep it from settling into the glass and frame junction, which could potentially weaken the seal.
  • Rinse with clear water if streaks remain after cleaning. 
  • Use ammonia-free products like: Windex® Glass and Surface Cleaner (clear liquid) or Sparkle Glass Cleaner (purple liquid). 
  • Remember, cleaning windows from inside the home is safer than standing on a ladder outside. Consider Pella replacement windows with a tilt-in feature (double-hung) or extra wide openings between the sash and frame (casement) for easy access and cleaning from safely inside your home.

Spot-cleaning stubborn spots on glass

To remove marks from grease, oil, tape, adhesive, crayons or paint, or marks from plastics that may have come into contact with the glass:

  • Apply a small amount of nonabrasive cleaner, like Bar Keepers Friend® (SerVaas Laboratories) to a clean, wet cloth. Or apply a solvent like acetone or mineral spirits to a clean, dry, lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • Rub on the areas of glass that need spot cleaning. Avoid getting cleansers or solvents on the wood, fiberglass or vinyl frames as they may discolor the finish. 
  • Wipe clean using a clean, dry lint-free cloth. 
  • Clean the entire glass surface as explained above. 
  • Never use a razor blade to scrape off stubborn materials and use care if using a squeegee. Doing so may leave permanent marks on the glass or scratches that could cause glass breakage. 

How to clean window or door screens

  • To remove dust and dirt from screens, simply vacuum them with an upholstery brush attachment.
  • For grease spots — typically found in kitchen screens — use a sponge, hot water and a mild detergent.
  • For a flat screen, like those found on a window, storm door or patio door, remove the screen and wash with soap and water. Rinse and repeat as needed to clean. Or use a drapery brush attachment on a vacuum. Find more cleaning tips for flat window screen at: http://www.pella.com/support-center-articles/cleaning-flat-screens.aspx

How to clean blinds and shades

  • For wood blinds, regular dusting will maintain a like-new appearance. When deeper cleaning is needed, vacuum gently with the soft brush attachment. 
  • For plastic or metal blinds, immerse blinds in a tub of lukewarm water and mild detergent. Rinse with clear water and let air dry before reinstalling. 
  • For fabric blinds or shades, use a vacuum cleaner with a drapery brush attachment to remove dust. Use a damp cloth to remove smudges, fingerprints, etc. Click here to watch a video of how to clean Pella blinds and shades. 
  • Hate cleaning blinds and shades? Visit our Pella® Designer Series® windows and patio doors page that feature between-the-glass window fashions protected from dust and dirt. 

Cleaning and refinishing brass door handles

If your Pella door includes a solid brass handle, the brass is polished and sealed with a clear coating by the manufacturer. If an abrasive or sharp object damages the finish, it will succumb to a natural oxidation process. You can refurbish it to its original polished finish by using a quality brass polish and soft cloth. 

Step 1: Remove the hardware from the door so the finish will not be affected. See your owner’s manual for instructions. To locate an online Pella product manual or to view other frequently asked questions about Pella products, please visit our Support Center at www.pella.com/support-center.

Step 2: Use a quality brass polish or cleaner to clean the brass – follow the product’s directions and cautions. Note: Firm rubbing may be necessary to loosen the coating on the brass.

Step 3: Reseal the brass by using one of these methods:

  • Using the properties from the brass polish you used to clean the brass. (This is the easiest method, but requires more frequent polishing.)
  • Apply a high-quality, non-abrasive, polymer-based automobile wax to seal the surface.
  • Apply a new clear coat with a clear lacquer spray – follow the product’s directions. (Most difficult, but lasts the longest.)

Do not use cleaners on Pella Oil-Rubbed Bronze hardware, which is a living finish that develops its own unique patina with use, care and handling. Simply wipe this hardware clean with a cloth. 

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