The Messy Test Kitchen: Which common window cleaning method is most effective?

We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?

 
The sun is shining, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming — time to throw open those windows and air out the house.
Those filthy, filthy windows. There must be some sign on them that only kids can see that says “wipe your grubby mitts here.”
Window cleaning is a chore that I don’t get around to all that often. I like to attribute it in part to perfectionism: Sometimes when you clean the windows, you find lint or smears when you’re done. That’s hardly satisfying. (Really, the problem is a mix of busyness and laziness.)

What’s the best way to clean windows without left-behind lint and streaks? Testing time!

 

We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?

 
In the Messy Test Kitchen (and adjacent Messy Test Living Room) I tried out five popular methods. The Messy Test 3-Year-Old also experimented washing windows with a dried-out (clean) butt wipe. Don’t try that one at home.
We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?
 
I used three or four spritzes of Windex with these four methods: newspaper, paper towels, squeegee, and a low-lint cotton (tea or floursack) towel. Finally, I tested the Norwex Microfiber Window Cloth, a chemical-free alternative.
I rated each method on a 1-to-5 scale (5 being best), considering how well they cleaned, whether they left behind lint or streaks, and anything else notable.
 
We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?
 
Newspaper (& Windex)
Rating: 2.5
Were the windows clean? Yes. Were they streaky or linty? Not particularly. But if I have to clean the windows and then clean newspaper ink off my hands….
 
We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?
 
Paper Towels (& Windex)
Rating: 4.5
My mom taught me to spray, scrub with two paper towels, and then buff with a third. In this test it worked perfectly; from time to time I’ve found a streak or bit of lint.
We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?
 
Squeegee (& Windex)
Rating: 1
The squeegee could not remove sticky fingerprints; it left streaks and puddles of Windex that I needed the newspaper, towel, or paper towel to wipe up.
 
We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?
 
Low-lint Towel (& Windex)
Rating: 4.5
Results were same as with paper towels.
 
We test it so you don't have to! This week: which popular window cleaning method performs best?
 
Norwex Microfiber Window Cloth
Rating: 5
I am not a Norwex user. (Thanks to my friendly neighbor who lets me borrow stuff.) Some people have concerns about Norwex products and whether they really can effectively kill bacteria without the use of chemicals. But when it comes to windows and mirrors, I don’t plan to make-out with them. I just want them to look clean.
I followed the instructions from this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHQKdzSPM_0) and found it worked just as advertised. For a particularly grimy window you do need to have two different cloths — one of their all-purpose EnviroCloths, wet, to scrub the grime; and then their window cloth, dry, to buff and shine. But it did clean, lint- and streak-free.

THE RESULTS: 

Norwex Microfiber Window Cloth: 5
Paper Towels: 4.5
Low-lint Towels: 4.5
Newspaper: 2.5
Squeegee: 1

Squeegees are fun for 3-year-olds to play with. They can’t clean windows 3-year-olds have touched. Newspapers work but leave behind ink.
Was the difference between paper and cloth towels with Windex and the Norwex big enough to justify investing in Norwex? Only if you feel strongly about the occasional streak or lint particle, or getting away from cleaning chemicals.
Otherwise, it was pretty close to a draw. Just clean the windows and be done with it for … you know, however long.
 

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