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What is the best product to clean windows? Consumer Reports compares popular brands

It’s a job not everyone likes to do, but luckily, cleaning your windows is a chore you only have to get to once or twice a year.

If you missed out on getting them done during your spring cleaning, you may want to tackle them before the cold weather arrives.

To find cleaners that don’t leave streaks behind, Consumer Reports’ Jodhaira Rodriguez, a self-proclaimed “clean freak,” dirtied up her normally pristine mirrors and windows to find which glass cleaners work the best.

“It is so much work to keep your windows clean and it’s like the minute you finish, you look at it again and there’s already something on them,” Rodriguez said.

All the spots, smudges, and grime on the glass surfaces in our homes reveal a lot of our not-so-secret messes and when it comes to cleaning them, there are a lot of glass cleaners to choose from.

“I applied toothpaste, oily fingerprints, a mixture of margarine and flour and bright red lipstick to the bathroom mirror and living room windows. Then I sprayed each one with the different glass cleaners then I counted the number of wipes needed to get rid of the messes,” Rodriguez said.

The tests helped clear up one big misconception. Vinegar is not your best choice for glass.

“It worked in our tests and it removed our messes, but it did leave noticeable amounts of streaks behind, so it just requires a lot more wiping,” Rodriguez said.

While ammonia based cleaners like Windex are known for their cleaning power, the smell isn’t so great, plus, ammonia can leave streaks and film on some types of windows.

Some ammonia-free options cleaned just as well. The winner of that category was Sprayway foaming glass cleaner, as it cut through all the messes, leaving surfaces dry after a single wipe. It can also be used on chrome, tile and porcelain so you get more bang for your buck.

If you’re just looking for a dedicated glass cleaner, testers say Invisible Glass is also a great option.

When it’s time to clean those hard to reach windows or exterior windows you could get out the ladder, but researchers found your safety alone is worth the cost of a telescoping cleaning pole kit.

Telescoping window cleaning kits are available at most home improvement stores starting at around $100.

Whatever product or method you use to clean your windows, researchers say it’s best to wash them on a cloudy day as direct sunlight can cause streaks because the liquid evaporates quickly and leaves a messy residue behind.

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