Don’t think eco-friendly natural window cleaners really work? Gotten streaks when you’ve tried them in the past? Try these nontoxic cleaning formulas and tips. You’ll never go back to commercial, chemical-based cleaners again.
Myth: Homemade cleaners leave streaks
Around Earth Day 1990, it seemed like every newspaper was printing recipes for nontoxic cleaning products with kitchen cupboard basics. The recipe was just plain vinegar and water. But when people tried the simple formula, they got streaks on their windows — and they swore off cleaning with homemade recipes — or even commercially sold natural cleaning products — for good.
The problem wasn’t the natural formula. The problem was that the traditional cleaning solutions people had used for so many years left a wax buildup, and vinegar alone couldn’t do the job of removing the residue.
Adding a dab of dish soap to a vinegar and water formula will do the trick. From then on, plain vinegar and water is all you’ll need to use.
Recipes for effective nontoxic cleaners
All-Purpose Window Cleaner
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon natural-formula liquid soap or detergent
2 cups water
A few drops of essential oil, for scent (optional)
Directions: Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spray on, then remove with a squeegee, paper towel or newspaper. Makes 2 1/4 cups and lasts forever.
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
2 cups water
Directions: Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spray on, then remove with a squeegee, paper towel or newspaper. This preparation will work well after you have cleaned off all the residue of commercial products with an all-purpose cleaner like the formula above.
Light and lemony variation: Substitute lemon juice for the vinegar. Note that freshly squeezed lemon juice won’t keep for more than a few days and should be stored in the refrigerator.
Tips for cleaning windows without chemicals
- A small squeegee will avoid the waste of paper towels. Squeegee the water to the corners of the glass, then wipe with a cotton rag.
- Be careful not to add too much detergent, or you’ll have to rinse it off. If the detergent is concentrated, use only half the amount.
- To get all the smudges when cleaning both sides of the window, wipe vertically on one side and horizontally on the other.