Tom Shafer

Expert tips for cleaning vinyl windows like new

May 27, 2011

Cleaning vinyl windows does not involve just keeping the glass sparkling. It also requires that the window frame and sash are kept clean to assure proper operation. Too often built-up dust -- which turns into dried mud -- as well as dead insects, stains, and scratches, either impede operation or present an unsightly appearance.

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By all means, clean the glass, but also follow these tips for cleaning vinyl windows to keep the rest of the window looking great and functioning properly.

Cleaning the window sash

The window sash should be cleaned first:

  1. Tilt the bottom and top sash in, and wipe the sides of the sash with a soft cloth dipped in warm, soapy water
  2. Wash the weather-stripping--the "fuzzy" material on the edges--to make sure all dirt is removed.
  3. Brush the weather-stripping with a scrub brush to lift the pile for better sealing
  4. Make sure there is no dirt, torn paper, or dead leaves keeping the window from locking securely

Don't forget the window frame and sill

Wipe the window frame next. Brush the channels where the balances are located with a dry paint brush to remove loose dirt.

Sill areas should be cleaned, also:

  1. Vacuum or dust all soil, dust, and dead insects from the surface of the sill area. Use a small brush to clean the dirt from difficult to reach areas
  2. Use a soft cloth dipped in water, mixed with a small amount of dishwashing detergent, to wash the sill--especially the corners where the jambs meet the sill. Use the brush on the weepholes, if necessary, to clear them of debris and open them up.
  3. On the outside of the sill, clear the openings of the weepholes to allow water to escape from the window

Some popular cleaning products that work for cleaning vinyl windows

You can remove stains on vinyl surfaces from water or environmental discoloring with one of several brands of cleaners including Formula 409, Fantastic and Pledge Multi-surface cleaner. Small, shallow scratches can be removed with Soft-Scrub diluted in water and rubbed gently on the vinyl surface with a 0000 emery cloth, then rinsed with water. However, consult your warranty first. It probably prohibits this procedure.

Spray Pledge on a cloth can remove slight oxidation. Also, a furniture polish like Pledge can lubricate surfaces intended to slide and should help make operation smoother.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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