IT is super fine steel wool! When Devonne rescued me from my paint-removing stalemate, she shared with me the wonderful way super fine steel wool and paste wax clean and polish wood surfaces. She also casually mentioned that "you can clean your windows with it, too, and no streaks!" I put her suggestion to the test on a farmhouse window that had been splattered with paint. A razor blade removed the big drops of dried paint, but did not get all the residue, so I got a new pad of super fine steel wool and went to work. And IT worked like a charm, removing not only the paint but also all the dirt and grime. And just like Devonne said, there were no streaks. Anyone who's ever labored over cleaning windows with sprays and paper towels can certainly appreciate that. Many a time I have cleaned and wiped and rubbed and wiped, even using new coffee filters or tissue paper, only to find that when the morning sun shone through them, my "clean" windows were still covered with ugly streaks.
The windows in the farmhouse are really dirty. They are covered with sawdust, dry wall dust, and bug dirt, not to mention the glue from all those labels new windows come with. While the weather was unseasonably warm the past couple of days, I tackled cleaning the ones in the rooms we've been renovating. Cold temperatures will be back any day, and although the windows tilt in for cleaning from the inside, they are open during the process, which means freezing fingers and escaping heat this time of year.
In case you've never done it, cleaning windows involves more than just cleaning the glass. The frames, tracks, and sills all need to be relieved of dirt, dead bugs, and various bits and pieces of nearby trees. At the farmhouse, the new windows have been installed for two years now, and have never been cleaned. As you can imagine, just cleaning all the non-glass parts took a good bit of time and elbow grease. Although the steel wool works great on glass, it doesn't work on the vinyl frames and tracks. It doesn't scratch, but it leaves a grey smudge, so I cleaned all the non-glass parts with soap, water, a rag, and a small brush. And because the glass was so very dirty, I did wipe it off with the soapy water and rag first, which only got the "top dirt" off, as my mother-in-law used to say. Once it was dry, I used the super fine steel wool, and wa-lah! Clean windows, with no streaks!
First, the bathroom window,
then the dining room window, which looks out onto the back porch.
Next came the kitchen windows. I love lots of light in the kitchen, but while I was wrestling with these big monsters, I was thinking that I could have done with a little less light!
Finally, the pantry window. Thankfully, it's a small one!
If you would like to try cleaning your windows with steel wool, here are some tips to follow:
1. You must use super fine steel wool, grade 0000!! Any coarser and you risk scratching.
2. Make sure the glass is completely dry and start with a new pad of steel wool. Then, just start rubbing! Vary your strokes, using a circular motion most of the time. Some spots need more scrubbing and pressure than others, but keep at it and it will all come off.
3. When you're finished, use the vacuum to clean up the steel wool fibers (I call them "woollies"), using the dusting attachment on the glass. Make sure you vacuum up the outside; I'm thinking wet woollies will rust and perhaps leave ugly stains on the paint/vinyl.
That's all there is to it! You end up with beautifully clean windows without any streaks. And all without the mess of sprays and the frustration of streaky windows despite all your hard work. Thank you, Devonne!
I like clean windows, but they are something I seldom have. Besides all the usual things that get them dirty, like weather, we have the house sprayed every fall in an attempt to ward off the lady beetles, cluster flies, and now, stink bugs. Consequently, most of the time my windows are dirty. Cleaning them was a big job that I was lucky to get around to once a year. Now, with the steel wool solution, I have no more excuses! I recently cleaned my kitchen windows so I can watch the birds at my feeders through clean glass and it didn't take long at all. What a simple solution to a chore most of us dread and put off as long as possible! The next time your windows need cleaning, give them a "super fine streak-free shine" with steel wool. This nugget of housecleaning know-how will sweeten the task immensely. It's a good thing to know, since the farmhouse has 12 more big windows to clean...