Few things can brighten up a home the same way that freshly washed windows can. There are several ways to wash windows, and most of them will work. The most popular way is usually to just use a store-bought window cleaning solution and paper towels, but this often leaves streaks, and is not very cost-effective. There are better, and cheaper, ways to get windows clean.
The best way to wash windows is to make a homemade window washing solution. The best solution has both ammonia, to break apart tough grime, and vinegar, to leave the glass streak-free. Mix together 2 quarts (1.89 l) of warm water, 0.5 cup (118.29 ml) of ammonia, 1 pint (473.17 ml) of rubbing alcohol, 0.25 cup (59 ml) of vinegar, and 1 tablespoon (14.78 ml) of regular dish detergent. Apply this to the windows, and wipe off until the windows are dry. The cleaning solution can be put in a spray bottle and applied that way, or sponged on straight from a bucket. Using a bucket will give the best results for those who have very dirty windows.
The tools used to wash windows are at least as important, if not more so, than the cleaning solution used. Many people advise spraying the solution onto the windows, and then using newspapers to wipe and dry. Others recommend using rags, paper towels, or even old t-shirts. The best way is to use an irregular, bumpy sponge, like a sea sponge, to apply the solution. A squeegee can then be used to remove the excess water and leave the windows streak-free. For washing exterior windows, a squeegee that has lambswool on one side can allow for quick and easy cleaning.
Having dirty window screens can make windows look dirty, even if the glass itself is clean, so take the extra time to clean the screens as well. Remove the windows, and spray them down. Mix up a solution of 0.25 cup (59 ml) ammonia, 2 tablespoons (29.57 ml) of dish soap, and 2 gallons (7.57 l) of warm water. Sponge this mixture onto the screens, and let them dry, with the soap on them. After they are dry, set them on a towel and tap them on the ground a few times. The dirt should fall right off.
Wash windows on a cloudy day, never in direct sunlight. This will slow the drying time, and reduce the likelihood of streaks. Before beginning, use a broom to sweep any cobwebs, loose debris, or dead bugs from the windows, and be sure to wash the outer windows first, moving from the top of the house down. Washing windows takes time and effort, but usually doesn't need to be done often, as long as it is done well the first time.