How to Clean Vinyl Windows in 6 Simple Steps

Sep 19, 2023 | News

Fall is an ideal time to clean your windows as you prepare your home for winter. Clean windows ensure you’re receiving all the benefits your windows have to offer, not least of all a clear, uninterrupted view and plenty of bright natural light. 

If you’re among the many homeowners who have chosen vinyl windows for their low maintenance requirements, durability, and affordability, you may be wondering how to clean vinyl windows safely and effectively. In this guide, we’ll break down all the steps to cleaning your vinyl windows to safeguard their appearance and performance for years to come. 


Vector Windows Vinyl Windows

Understanding Vinyl Windows

Before you learn how to clean vinyl windows, it’s best to have a basic understanding of their construction and materials so you can choose the most appropriate and safe cleaning products and equipment. 

Vinyl windows are a type of window made from glass panes and a synthetic material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They are known for their durability, energy efficiency, and minimal maintenance requirements, making them a popular choice for residential and commercial buildings. Vinyl windows come in a wide variety of styles and designs and are often favored for their affordability and long-lasting performance.

Because they are manufactured with PVC, there are some products and equipment that should be avoided when cleaning vinyl windows. As a plastic polymer, PVC can be scratched by physically abrasive cleaning equipment such as scouring pads, metal scrapers, and other sharp objects. Ammonia-based cleaners and other harsh chemicals such as bleach, acetone and strong solvents can react with the vinyl material and cause degradation, discoloration, and cloudiness. Pressure washers should also not be used to clean vinyl windows, as they may force water into the window frame, potentially causing leaks or damage to the window. 

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Preparing the Cleaning Area

As you prepare to clean vinyl windows around your home or commercial building, you’ll want to take steps to clear and protect the cleaning area. Remove any window coverings, such as blinds or curtains, that may get in the way of cleaning. Clear the windowsills of any extraneous items like window boxes, planters, or other decor. 

It’s also important to protect the surrounding surfaces and furniture before cleaning your vinyl windows. Cover the floor with a tarp, newspaper, towels, or other protective material to prevent staining from any spills or drips. Similarly, you’ll want to wrap or cover any nearby furniture with a tarp or extra bed sheets to prevent damage. 

As a final step in your preparations, be sure to put on cleaning gloves to protect your skin and hands from your cleaning solution. Remove any jewelry on the hands that may come into contact with any cleaning products, and tie up long hair. If you have sensitive eyes and are using a particularly potent solution, you may also consider donning eye protection for the duration of your window cleaning. 

How to Clean Vinyl Windows: 6 Steps to Spotless Windows

1. Dust & remove debris. 

First, use a soft brush or vacuum to remove dust and debris from the window surface and surrounding area. This will help to prevent scratching during cleaning, and also make the cleaning process more efficient and effective.

2. Prepare a cleaning solution

Mix an appropriate cleaning solution, either homemade or commercial, to clean the glass panes of your windows without damaging the vinyl frames. 

Trying to decide whether to use a homemade or commercial cleaning solution? A homemade cleaning solution can be a cost-effective choice that allows you to have total transparency and control over the ingredients and ratios therein. They can also be more environmentally friendly, as they reduce the use of chemical cleaners and make it easier to avoid harsh ingredients. However, homemade cleaning solutions must be used immediately, may not be as effective at tackling tough stains or grime on your windows, and may take some trial and error to arrive at a satisfactory “recipe.”

Commercial cleaning solutions are a convenient choice, as they are available in ready-to-use formulations with no preparation necessary on the part of the user. They also provide consistent results, thanks to their highly-focused recipes tailored to effective window cleaning. But commercial cleaners can also be more expensive than homemade solutions, and more dangerous to both people and the planet: Commercial window cleaners can contain chemicals that are less environmentally friendly, and all must be stored securely away from children and pets due to their chemical composition. 

3. Wet the window

Apply your cleaning solution evenly to wet the entire window surface, ensuring thorough coverage for effective cleaning.

4. Scrub the window

Gently scrub the window surface in even vertical or horizontal strokes to remove dirt and stains. Again, you’ll want to use a non-abrasive method or tool to avoid damaging the vinyl. We recommend a simple, soft cloth, such as a microfiber towel, for this step, followed by a squeegee with a soft rubber blade to achieve a smooth, streak-free shine. 

After you have carefully scrubbed the entire window surface, use a squeegee to remove the cleaning solution from the glass in a systematic and controlled manner starting from the top and working your way down. Regularly wipe the squeegee to prevent transferring dirt from one section to another. This technique helps to ensure a clean, clear finish. 

Clean smaller areas of your window using a soft-bristled toothbrush or other small, soft brush. If you have stubborn stains on your vinyl windows, you can also use these types of brushes to target them. Apply a small amount of cleaning solution to the stain and let it sit for five to 10 minutes before gently scrubbing it with your soft-bristled brush. Rinse and repeat this method until the stain is completely lifted. 

Step 5: Wipe away excess moisture

It's important to avoid oversaturating your vinyl windows with cleaning solution or water. Excess moisture may seep into your window frames, which can lead to damage and leakage.  To prevent this, be sure to wipe down your windows thoroughly after squeegeeing. Use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe away any leftover moisture or residue for a flawless finish. 

Vector Windows Vinyl Windows

Maintaining Vinyl Windows

Regular, thorough cleaning is essential to maintaining your vinyl windows in the long term. Twice-yearly cleaning is appropriate to prevent dirt buildup on most residential vinyl windows, but you can always clean more often if you are located in an area with heavy pollution or other outstanding factors that contribute to window buildup and grime. More frequent cleaning may also be necessary in particularly rainy climates, or during the normal rainy season in your area.

Speaking of the seasons: Take care to adapt your cleaning routine to the changing seasons. Clean your vinyl windows before any extreme weather conditions or changes, such as the onset of winter frost, heavy rains, or intense winds. This will help ensure that your windows function properly in the given circumstances. 

To prevent damage and performance degradation in your vinyl windows, use weatherstripping to seal gaps, keep screens in good condition, and trim any vegetation surrounding or near your windows. Regularly clean the window sills and tracks to prevent dirt accumulation.

Finally, it’s good practice to regularly inspect your vinyl windows for damage, especially after major storms or extreme weather conditions. Periodically check your windows for signs of damage like cracks, warping, broken or faulty seals, leaks, and other common issues. Your vigilance will allow you to promptly address any problems, so you can maintain your vinyl windows’ efficiency and longevity. 

Protect Your Vinyl Windows For Years To Come

With these key steps and tips in mind, you can successfully clean and protect your vinyl windows for years to come. Vinyl windows function best when they are clean and well-maintained, so a regular maintenance routine that includes thorough, gentle cleaning is ideal for achieving optimized performance. If you have any questions about maintaining the quality and functionality of your vinyl windows, you can always contact the Vector Windows team to receive personalized, expert guidance on how to clean vinyl windows safely and effectively. We look forward to assisting you!

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