Homemade Window Cleaner Recipes & Tips

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Making your own window cleaner is easy to do and all you need are simple ingredients that you likely have around the house already (they’re often much cheaper to make than buying them and can work just as well too). Here’s a bunch of different recipes you can try along with a few tips listed at the bottom to help achieve a streak-free shine.

Sponge#1

2 cups rubbing alcohol (70 percent isopropyl)
3/4 gallon of water
–mix together than add
1/2 cup ammonia
1 tsp dish detergent (liquid)
top with water until you have 1 gallon

#2

2 cups water
3 TBS vinegar
1/2 tsp dish detergent (liquid)

#3

1 gallon water
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp dish detergent (liquid)

#4

1 gallon water
1/4 cup vinegar
2 TBS lemon juice
squirt dish detergent (liquid)

#5

1/2 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water

#6

2 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 cup household ammonia
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water

  • Mix the ingredients in a bucket, make sure cornstarch is thoroughly dissolved before using.

#7

1 gallon water
1 cup vinegar
2 TBS cornstarch

  • Mix until cornstarch is thoroughly dissolved.

Store these solutions in spray bottles: (will also work on mirrors)

  • One part vinegar added to four parts water
  • One cup cold strong black tea with 3 TBS of vinegar

Lemon-Fresh Version
First Published May 3, 2010

Fresh Lemon Juice & Club Soda

Here’s a goody sent in by Amanda:

This recipe is for cleaning windows and glass that I’ve used for years, it brings a nice sparkle & shine so I love it! Only a few ingredients are needed:

  • 3 TBS lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 cups club soda (you can use water too or a mix of water and club soda but I prefer 100% club soda)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Pour everything into a spray bottle then shake well before using.

Thanks so much for sharing Amanda!

Tips:

  • Spray with preferred solution then wipe with crumpled newspapers. The newspaper helps prevent streaks.
  • Using coffee filters to wipe can also give streak-free results (shared by Brenda in the comment section below).
  • Avoid washing when the sun is hot and shining–it will dry too fast and there will be streaks.
  • Also wash one side of the glass in an up and down direction, on the other side scrub side to side. This will help determine which side has the streaks that need to be polished out.

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Published: November 21, 2008
Updated: September 5, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
92 Comments to “Homemade Window Cleaner Recipes & Tips”
  1. crashed broomstick says:

    V very old way of cleaning windows is using the above solution with news paper, use a cloth to wash them then dry the windows with scrunched up newspaper, not coloured ink though. It really does work and afterwards you can throw the paper in the recycle bin.

    • shhayde says:

      I really liked all the window cleaning recipes…actually used #1 today and the windows looked great. The newspaper idea didn’t work for me though because even though the ink wasn’t colored it left black on my hands. Paper towels and cotton rags worked. Thanks.

      • ciotog says:

        Wash your hands after?

      • m says:

        Newspapers have to be old newspapers and not new. The ink needs to be dry (The Wall Street Journal I find to be the best to use). I was told to use old news papers by glass installers–makes a big difference

      • Jools says:

        Hi,

        Newsapaper is not a good option these days as the black ink does rub off. I found tissue paper works really well and does not leave the lint fibres.
        I usually use the white tissue paper left over from gifts.

  2. Johan says:

    I would skip the recipe with ammonia since that stinks really bad, it is not so good for your health when inhaled and it is a greenhouse gas.

    See the wikipedia entry on ammonia.

    • Brenda says:

      Any homemade window cleaner is better than store bought. My tip is to use a COFFEE FILTER for cleaning windows it has just enough abrasiveness and NEVER leaves streaks or those annoying little fabric dusties! Works wonderful on mirrors too! TIPNUT ROCKS!

      • Hzlb says:

        Homemade cleaner is GREAT – I have use, for years BUT I would NEVER use newspapers, coffee filters or even Kleenex to wipe glass They are all wood base byproduct and leave very fine scratches Over time, damage done.
        Instead use old cotton T shirts laundry WITHOUT fabric softener rinsed in vinegar

        • Katie says:

          Using newspaper is recycling something you already have.

          • Denise says:

            Yes…newspaper is recyling something you already have…but if it is messy and can scratch your windows up over time…certainly everyone has old Cotton T-Shirts around as well…is not that also recycling you already have??

    • Don says:

      Auto window-glass cleaning
      I recommend against using ammonia because of eye hazard.
      I used a home-brew, containing ammonia, and a droplet splashed in my eye.
      (I wasn’t wearing eye protection) resulting in a costly trip to my ophthalmologist.

      I find that commercial brands leave a film on car window glass so I use 50% alchohol and 50% distilled water.
      The alcohol cuts through any film and the distilled water prevents spotting.
      I spray it on, use a paper towel to rub the glass and pickup the dirt and then quickly use an old soft T-shirt for final cleaning

  3. Corinne says:

    You can also use 1 gallon of water and like 2 cups of corn starch and mix them up. It doesn’t leave any streaks!

  4. Charity says:

    Recipe #1 works great! I have been using a similar recipe for years and it is a great multi purpose cleaner. It works at cutting grease in the kitchen too. I make this up and use it to clean the bathroom, kitchen and windows.

    • Carolyn says:

      Will this work for removing grease from kitchen cabinets prior to painting?

      • Gabriele says:

        I just finished de-greasing all of our cabinets. I use Easy-Off no-fumes oven cleaner. Just spray on sponge, wipe, and rinse. Or you can take the doors off, take them to the bathroom, and spray them directly. But don’t leave on too long. It will take off the varnish of your doors. I know Easy-Off is not good, but I found it to be the only thing that really works on just about everything with minimal effort.

        • Morgan says:

          My range hood is white painted textured metal and it wouldn’t come completely clean until I used a weak solution of dish detergent and a Magic Eraser sponge, they’re good on cabinets too.

          Thanks for these recipes!

  5. Lois says:

    would it be a bad idea to use the one with rubbing alcohol for cleaning eyeglasses? what about vinegar?

    • Chuck says:

      The best thing for cleaning eye glasses is a drop of dish soap in @ 2 cups of water. Swish them in the solution and a little rubbing with your fingers. Use a soft all cotton dish towel to dry (do NOT use a terry towel). I use to be an optician and nothing has ever beaten this for preserving coatings and keeping clean.

      • Carolyn says:

        As soon as I read your reply, I filled a 4-cup measuring cup to the 2-cup level w/water and a drop of dish soap, submerged my glasses and rubbed the glass AND frames and nose clips. Cleaning the rest of the frames should be included since they accumulate oils and grime from everyday wear. They feel as new as when I received them years ago! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Paddy says:

    Recipe #1 Is amazing it works so much better than the others. Ammonia doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. Johan is wrong

    • Trish says:

      There is something about the mixing of ammonia with any other cleaning solution. I’ve heard that can create some kind of poinsonous odor you shouldn’t be around.

      • Wendy says:

        Chlorine bleach – never mix ammonia with bleach

        • Early Cuyler says:

          What Wendy says is correct. Not many people know it, but the Atomic Bomb “Little Boy” that was dropped on Hiroshima Japan, was composed entirely of chlorine bleach and ammonia. Not only did it level the city, but any glass left after the blast was squeaky clean.

  7. Kim says:

    Ammonia is only poisonous when mixed with certain chemicals..bleach. Also the smell of either Ammonia or vinegar dissapates quickly and leaves no odor. Vinegar is a wonderful cleaner around the house…repels ants, cleans garbage disposal, great in laundry…and cheap! Plus, your family will think you’ve canned all day when you clean!

    • Gabriele says:

      Vinegar is not a cleaner. It is a rinsing agent. However, I use a lot of it, since we have very hard water.

      • BJ says:

        Gabriele…I beg to differ…I was told to use Vinegar to sterilize my husband CPAP machine…they have used vinegar forever to sanitize hospital rooms…it is a well-known cleaner all by itself.

  8. Virginia says:

    Window cleaner, counter top, etc.

    To one gallon of water add:
    1 tbls. Joy
    2 tbls. PineSol
    3 tbls. Amonia

    5 drops of blue food coloring, for color

    The best window cleaner I ever used.

  9. Maureen says:

    My mom has used recipe #1 for years. It works amazingly well. It doesn’t small strongly of ammonia at all.

  10. Tamrah says:

    My family has made and used recipe #1 for some years now. Really a wonderful cleaner to get all that buildup off outside windows! And, preferably we really like to use Dawn as our dish detergent.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Tamrah

  11. Curio says:

    Don’t do windows, but it seems to me a cleaning crew told me once to use equal parts white vinegar, alcohol, and ammonia maybe cut it some with some water.

    Doesn’t the dish detergent leave a film that makes the windows get dirty faster??

  12. Fia says:

    Never mix vinegar and ammonia… they will not react well and will make toxic fumes…..

    • TipNut says:

      Hi Fia, are you thinking vinegar and bleach are a dangerous mix? There are plenty of recipes (both online and in books) that mix vinegar with ammonia.

      • Carolyn says:

        I believe you are correct: For animal accidents (cat/dog vomit or potty stains on carpeting). I use a recipe of 1 part ammonia, 1 part vinegar and 1 part dish soap, all placed in separate bottles. After removing debris first, dab initial moisture w/a white paper towel from area. Use soapy water first, dab up moisture, ammonia second (otherwise the animal will be drawn back to that spot), and then the vinegar last. No stain and no odor left behind.
        Carolyn

    • Rose says:

      It’s ammonia and bleach that cause dangerious fumes. Never mix them together

  13. BrendaLea says:

    my window cleaner is:

    1-1/2 Tlbs VO5 Shampoo
    1/2 cup alcohol

    put into a 32oz spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Works wonderful on windows and even cleaning the walls.

  14. Kenneth says:

    I just brew up a pot of tea when i clean my windows and mirrors. The tannic acid makes it virtually streak free cleaning. This is also great for polishing metal sinks and faucets. I just brew plain non-flavored tea and add a few drops of my favorite scented dish liquid, and I always save out a cup of tea before adding dish liquid. That way when all the glass and fixtures are done I can sit back and enjoy a lil me-time tea break. Happy cleaning all. :)

    • K Jerread says:

      Brewed tea (I use the cheapest brands)is also great to clean hard wood floors. They come out clean and shiny and scratches aren’t noticeable. I just throw a big handful into a pot and boil them up strong. Pour the liquid into the mop bucket and add water.

  15. Marie says:

    I too, have been using a recipe similar to recipe #1 for years. I use a peppermint-scented liquid Castile soap (found in a health food store) in place of the dishsoap. It leaves a wonderful scent! I mix large batches, divide it up into several spray bottles purchased at a hair salon supply & place one in the kitchen & every bathroom. This is my favorite all-purpose cleaner. Even my teens love using it!

  16. pmhenry67 says:

    Does anyone know how to get calcium build up off windshields? Really would appreciate suggestins. Thank you.

  17. motla68 says:

    Have had good results doing the following:

    – 1 Gallon of filtered or distilled water (water contamination causes streaks)

    – The juice from 2 Key limes (have used a regular lime too, but key limes seem to work better for some reason, might be a bit higher mineral content)

    Wipe on generously with washcloth, this is good for spots too if needed, use the right size squeegee for the job to wipe dry. Use second washcloth dry to dry off water runoff from squeegee on sinks and window sills.
    Natural made washcloths are best and the oil from the lime peels have other uses such as for other cleaners, other washcloths have dyes in them that might not mean much to you but consider this if the whole world is throwing those dyes into the water system? newspapers have toxic ink in them that contaminates environment and are probably not the best answer either unless you know your publication is using environmentally friendly ink. There can be no excuses because I have even seen natural washcloths in a walmart supercenter.

    On a side note if your handy or know someone handy, old squeegees can be turned into door stops or something else useful.

    • witchey woman says:

      Thanks everyone for the wonderful recipes. Very interesting and I knew that there were alternatives to those harsh chemicals that are promoted by the huge corporate companies.
      We need to get back to the ‘home’ recipes of the 1940’s and 1950’s! Simplifying and protecting our families and the environment, too!

      Why are you going to Walmart? It’s truly un-American! Please shop American. And save our Nation.
      Peace to all.

  18. Malendaz says:

    If you have thermal pane windows, don’t use ammonia. It discolors the windows (turns them purple).

  19. Lynn says:

    I use 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water and put in a spray bottle. I use it to clean windows, mirrors and car windows. Doesn’t streak. Just gets them squeky clean. I spray the window and wipe off with a paper towel. Especially great during the winter months because it doesn’t freeze on the window.

  20. vanessa says:

    I can never find ammonia in the hardware stores. Where are fellow Canadian finding it??

  21. sophie says:

    You can add any food color to these for a great color,lavender etc.
    The zep window cleaner at Home depot has a lot of alcohol in it like recipe #1.
    I’ve been using it for years ,I love it for everything,bathroom sinks,counter tops etc.alchol is a disenfetant.I am ecstatic to find a home made recipe with alcohol in it.

  22. Patty says:

    We just hand new replacement windows installed and the installers said not to use amonia products on the replacement windows. Vinegar and water work well or if you choose to buy a cleaner they do have “amonia free” glass cleaners.

  23. Ann Barczykowski says:

    I am cleaning windows that get exposed to the the Salt Air of the Gulf of Mexico.

    It’s very difficut to cut through the sticky salt residue

    Any information and help woould be appreciated.

  24. BARBARA says:

    Some of the above recipes above call for “cornstarch.” Does anybody know why? I do – and it’s well worth checking into. The best window cleaners have a surfactant in them. A surfactand is also known as a “Surface-active Agent, Wetter, or Wetting Agent.”

    A surfactant is a chemical agent (in this case, corn starch) which is capable of reducing the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved. By lowering this surfacte tension between two media (like glass and dirt)the surfactant plays a key role in the removal and suspension of dirt. The lower surface tension of the water makes it easier to lift dirt and grease off of dirty windows, mirrors, windshields, dishes, glasswear, eyeglasses and other immersable class items.

    The surfactant molecules surround the stain particles on your windows (or any glass object), break them up and force them away from the surface of the glass.

    The BONUS: A glass item coated with a mixture including a surfactant, becomes more resistent to accumulating new “dirt” and you’ll probably have to wash your glass less frequently.

    I know this post is probably too scientific for TIPNUT, but when I first starting using homemade window washing solutions, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would EVER PUT A BAKING ITEM into the solution. To prove these contributors were nuts, I tried it. I COULDN’T BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCES – these contributors weren’t nuts THEY WERE GENIUSES.

    I can see no reason why a small amount of cornstarch (well dissolved) couldn’t be added to any of the above recipes – they all have great natural ingredients!!

    Happy Surface Tension Reducing (wouldn’t it be fun when the kids return from school and ask, “Well, Mom what’s new?” “Oh nothing much. I spent an hour or so reducing the surface tension in this home – that’s about it.” Then wait for a response – if they are ignoring you, they’ll say, “That’s nice.” If they are listening, you get one of the following responses, “You did WHAT?” or “Wow, Mom I know I haven’t been helping out at home like I should be – I had no idea that the tension was so heavy for you. I’ll do better.”

    Barb from Willoughby Hills OHIO – a surface-free city!! Ha Ha

    • Marlaya says:

      I love the extra “Sid the Science kid” info. Thanks for increasing my knowledge and decreasing my cleaning time!

    • Glen from Ont. Canada says:

      Thanks for this. I hate cleaning the outside of my large livingroom windows. They collect so much road dust. This may help!!

    • Anna says:

      Thank you so much for the info. I was really curious about the starch and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t leave a film; but I guess it does, a good film.

      • charity Johnson says:

        I love the extra information. I make a homemade windshield washer solution with a few drops of dawn, some vinegar,alcohol and water, would cornstarch cause any problems in windshield wiper solution?

  25. Lori says:

    We have very, very hard well water in our area. Would I be better off using distilled water in the solutions?

  26. trees says:

    I’m a house cleaner & used all the cleansers & cleaners homemade & store bought & the best thing for windows & mirrors is the old fashioned chamois leather.

    Pre-soak the chamois & rinse a few times b4 use wait ’til the waters clear, then with a bucket of warm water -no cleansers needed- wring out the chamois start @ the corners & work down wash then quickly drying & polishing with cotton toweling or microfiber cloth. no chemicals I clean dozens of windows & mirrors in a week & I would have killed myself if I’d used ammonia,windex, vinegar, etc.

    • nancy says:

      So glad to read this post about plain water. That’s all I ever use — hot water and a sponge, then dry. Works great…ever have any streaks.
      I learned this from professional window cleaners that I hired years ago.

  27. Gene says:

    Had house powerwashed, it left streaks on the windows, tried windex and Safeway wouldn’t cut it, any suggestions?

  28. Diana Ashworth says:

    I read somewhere years ago to use a black board eraser after you clean your windows with the above recipes. It brings out a nice shine.

  29. juliet says:

    does anyone add essential oils to any of the above recipes? i was thinking rosemaryand lavender or maybe orange?

  30. facebegone says:

    We used recipe #2 as I had all the ingredients in the kitchen, but added a tablespoon of lemon to make it less vinegary. It worked amazingly well – thanks for the recipe!

  31. GEORGE says:

    ADD TO #1 1/2 TEASPOON OF JET DRY YES THE SAME STUFF YOU USE IN YOUR DISHWASHER.

  32. James Mottice says:

    I have multiple windows that require a ladder. I am unable to use due to disablility. I presently use a long handled applicator with a window sponge and
    luke warm water with Dawn and works well. Its the rinsing off that is a issue.
    I am unble to manually wipe off in order to leave spot free and they look terrible. I have Zep’s spot clear that is used in the car wash industry but I have never used and am not sure of how to apply. Need help.

  33. Elvis says:

    Windshield washer fluid and an automotive squeegee are the best. Even works in sunlight.

  34. Katie says:

    Uh-Yeah…was wondering why nobody said automotive Windshield 20-20 and a squeegee.
    Thin it only slightly with water and you have awesome no streak and squeegee dry cleaner for windows, mirrors, windshields, light fixture glass, outside of appliances such a refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens. It’s uses go on and on.

    If you read labels, store bought window cleaner IS what you are making. You are saving money, not the earth.

    Why didn’t your mother teach you this?

  35. Highball says:

    Got this from some cheep professional cleaners,
    Use parts:
    Alcohol (highest %, least water)
    Ammonia (pure)
    White Vinegar
    I used equal, some play with quantities, some even add water, but how much of the stuff do you use anyway.
    Water, soft or hard, but not distilled, dish detergent, lemon juice, lemon ammonia etc., cornstarch soda and many other things leave a residue. If your windows look clean they collect dirt faster and it is harder to wash off.

    I don’t use this anymore as I use two micro weave cloths, damp and dry, when the dry one rubs easy and smooth all residue is off the window. A quick buff with one or both and any missed spots are gone. It is even easier to tell which side the spot is on, and you don’t ruin the whole window finding out.

    If they are real dirty, a little ammonia water and the hose then the two cloths.

    But too each his own.

  36. TC says:

    DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use AMMONIA on WINDOWS with IR REFLECTIVE COATINGS or you will remove the coating.

    Please read your warranty cards or go on-line and checkout how to clean your brand of windows. The window brand can be found on the lower right corner of the window sash. It is usually lightly stenciled onto the glass.

    Ammonia is excellent to clean ordinary window glass.

  37. Lynda Aistrop says:

    I have always used joy dish detergent and water….mixing it up in a bucket just like you would your dishwater, wiping the windows down with this soulution and a terry cloth rag, then go back over with a dry rag. No rinsing, no streaks and what a view!

  38. Michele says:

    Any of these solutions will work but what I like to do is put them in a bucket and make sure the water is warm. Then I just use a washcloth to wash down the windows and a hand towel–terry or cotton–to dry them. I never have streaks. I think this method is far superior to spraying window washing solutions on windows. You don’t need a blade either; just a washcloth and towel do the job beautifully!

  39. Ruth says:

    Does anyone know how to make a window cleaner like the Windex brand that comes in a bottle you screw onto your garden hose ,then you just spray it on, then rinse with clear water?

  40. Lynn says:

    I mix in a bucket and use a squeegee. Never have streaks and takes only a couple of minutes to do a patio door (both sides)!!

  41. Lucky says:

    Do not use ammonia for cleaning windows unless you are POSITIVE that they are single plate glass. Many of the modern, high efficiency windows have either two or three plates of glass in a sandwich. Ammonia will attack the sealant around the window and cause internal fogging and eventually require costly replacement.

  42. sue says:

    use the (blue) Dawn dish soap for your recipe that calls for dish soap. It has degreasing power and is best for windows and other cleaning solutions . I make my own laundry soap also, and almost all home remedies that call for dish soap can use this.

  43. TER says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH AS THIS ARE VERY SUITABLE METHODS TO CLEAN OUR GLASS

  44. Lori says:

    Just did 1 part vinegar/4 parts water/1/2 tsp cornstarch (this is in my near pint spray bottle) & 20 drops lemon essential oil. LOVE IT! Inside cleaning looks good. Now I’m on to the outside for the big test. Oh, and I use microfiber towels.

  45. Linda says:

    No matter how hard I try I cannot get soap scum off my shower doors. Any help out there.

  46. Leonas says:

    The only item I have used to clean windows, both in & out, has been a very fine steel wool – the kind used for fine sanding wood. Have used this for years with very little elbow grease & absolutely no scratching of windows or mirrors. Just a dusting of window ledge after the fact was needed,,

  47. Kase says:

    I just used white vinegar water rubbing alcohol and a little bit of orange extract ( for scent) and yay it got the toothpaste my children can never seem too keep off the bathroom mirror removed with no streaks

  48. Marianne says:

    We use borehole water on the lawn which is very rich in iron.
    When it comes in contact with the windows, it leaves a browninsh stain and it is a struggle to get it off.
    I have tried the vinegar, lemon juice and I bought window cleaners, but nothing helps!!
    Any suggestions?


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