Here's how to clean windows with vinegar

Our 7-step guide on how to clean windows with vinegar

A cleaning spray bottle next to a sink
(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

Wondering how to clean windows with vinegar? When I have hard-to-clean stains that just won’t budge, I’ll always reach for this clear condiment. Its natural acidity makes it such a great solution. My grandma always swore by it, and now that I have a place to clean, I’m totally obsessed too.

Windows are one of the areas of the house that vinegar cleans super well, as it can knock out hard-to-remove stains and make the glass super shiny.

Of course, cleaning windows with vinegar isn't just a case of cracking open a bottle, splashing your windows, and hoping for the best. That being said, it’s super easy to do, and won’t take you very long. My windows needed some major TLC, and I thought what better time to put together a how-to? Truthfully, I haven’t cleaned this set of windows since I moved in around two years ago, so they've got serious grime.

I’ll be showing you how to use vinegar to clean your home (specifically window panes), plus answer common questions everyone asks.

A 7-step guide on how to clean windows with vinegar

Good to know

Time: 10 minutes per set of windows. Putting together the mixture will take under two minutes.

Difficulty: Easy. There’s nothing complicated going on here — just mixing together a couple of ingredients, then spraying and wiping down the window.

Helpful hints: Be sure to choose a cloudy day to do this, rather than a sunny day. If you choose a sunny day, the mixture will dry too quickly, which can lead to streaky marks on the window. You can also put a few drops of essential oil into the mixture, so your apartment doesn’t smell like vinegar when you’re done.

Here's what you'll need

Nine out of ten household will have these basic cleaning supplies, but if you haven't, I've provided a handy inventory of the items you'll need.

How to clean windows with vinegar

Step 1: Put on your rubber gloves

Two hands with pink rubber gloves on, against a window

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

Rubber gloves are absolute must-haves for your cleaning caddy, because you don’t want to get any cleaning product on you when cleaning. Vinegar is acidic, so these will help protect your skin and stop you from having vinegary-scented hands afterward. 

Step 2: Mix your vinegar and water solution together

A picture of vinegar being poured into a bottle and a picture of a tap filling up a bottle

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

Fill your spray bottle (like this one from Amazon) with half vinegar (we always use Heinz’s cleaning vinegar from Amazon) and half water. This is the easiest way to see how much you need to fill your bottle and saves you from having to pour the mixture from a bowl into the bottle. I recommend doing this over the sink, just in case you accidentally spill any vinegar (I’m a major clutz, so I always do it). Then, just give it a light shake.

Top tip: You can add a couple of drops of essential oil (I used Aromaworks (available on Amazon)) to make the mixture smell better, but this isn’t necessary. 

Step 3: Spray the vinegar solution onto the window 

A window being sprayed with a glass bottle filled with vinegar and water

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

Spritz a few times across the window, moving from top to bottom so the whole window pane is pretty much covered. You don’t need to completely douse the window, nor do you need to use all the mixture on one window.

If you have really tough stains, I recommend leaving the mixture on for a couple of minutes to work its magic.

Warning: If you have paint around the windows, make sure not to spritz your solution on this, as the vinegar can damage the paintwork.  While acetic acid can be used on a whole heap of stuff around the home, we've also got a list of things you shouldn't clean with vinegar.

Step 4: Wipe the solution around with a sponge

A picture of a sponge being soaked and a picture of a window being wiped with a sponge

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

For cleaning around the house, I recommend using compressed sponges (these ones are Amazon’s Choice), as they won’t scratch your surfaces and can be reused. First, run the sponge under the sink — this makes it less rigid and easier to use. Then, wipe the solution on the window around the whole window pane surface, in a circular motion.

Top tip: Squeeze the sponge to get extra water out before using it on the window, so you don’t make the glass overly wet.

Step 5: Use a squeegee to wipe the excess off

A window being wiped down with a squeegee

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

When it comes to cleaning glass, squeegees (hello Amazon’s squeegee Choice) are total miracle workers. It's such a simple process, but so effective. It makes the glass streak-free, so you aren’t left with any smudges that will undo all your hard work. Holding the squeegee handle, simply use the tool to wipe down the window from top to bottom, and repeat this moving across the window until the whole area has been wiped.

Top tip: Make sure to wipe vertically, rather than horizontally, so the excess water can be wiped from the ledge easily.

Step 6: Dry the window with a microfiber cloth

A window being wiped with a microfiber cloth

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

Now that your window has been cleaned with solution, you can dry it with a microfiber cloth — I used a Spontex one, which you can get from Amazon. Wipe from top to bottom so you don't leave any streaks. I recommend using one of these rather than a kitchen towel since it’s more sustainable and it doesn’t leave messy fibers on the window. It’s also important not to skip this step, so you don’t end up with any dried-up water drops.

Step 7: Wipe the excess water off your window ledge

A window ledge being wiped with a yellow cloth

(Image credit: Future/Eve Smallman)

Using a microfiber cloth, go along the ledge of your window and dry off any dirty water that trickled down. You can follow this with a spritz and wipe with a natural all-purpose cleaner, such as the Mrs. Meyer’s one that's $4.49 on Amazon (the Real Homes team is obsessed with this, BTW).


Is vinegar better to use on windows than Windex?

Vinegar is a natural cleaner, meaning it’s more environmentally friendly to use on your windows than the chemical-based Windex. However, for the shiniest windows possible, Windex provides better results.

What is the best way to clean windows without streaking?

Use a squeegee to remove any excess solution, and then wipe with a microfiber cloth from top to bottom. Also, choose a cloudy day to clean your windows rather than a sunny one, as the sun will make the cleaning solution dry faster, which then leaves streaks.

Can you use straight vinegar on your window?

No, you shouldn’t use vinegar alone when cleaning your window. While vinegar won’t damage the glass, it could damage the outer frame when used by itself, due to it being acidic. Instead, make it into a solution that’s half vinegar and half water, so it’s diluted.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.