t's a rainy, gray day here in Vermont, and yet I can see very clearly that my windows are in need of spring cleaning. The idea of using smelly ammonia-based window cleaners in my tiny apartment is not appealing.
Fortunately, there is an easy alternative that is much cheaper and much more environmentally friendly. I was taught by my mother who was probably taught by her mother...to use white vinegar and water to clean windows. You can put a mixture of half water and half white vinegar in a spray bottle or a bucket.
Unfortunately, if you have been using commercial cleaning products on your windows, it has probably left a waxy film on the glass. You must use a bit of soapy water to clean this off before you can use the simple vinegar recipes.
The smell of vinegar is potent, but it dissipates after a few hours. As does ammonia I suppose, but vinegar doesn't scare me...ammonia does. I don't want it on my skin, I don't want to breathe it.
To dry the windows, I use crumpled up newspaper to make them streak free. This also works great on mirrors too!
So, what's in the commercial window cleaners other than ammonia? Since the federal government does not require cleaning companies to put all the ingredients on the label, it's hard to say. Windex-like products typically contain detergents (petroleum-based), the ammonia, a chemical-based fragrance to moderate the odor of ammonia, and some form of dye to make the product blue or green.
That's a lot of chemicals just to clean a window!
Remember the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The dad thought Windex could be used for anything, even body ailments. I actually believe vinegar is the great "fix-it."