If you’ve invested in new or replacement windows for your home recently, it’s wise to want to protect and maintain their longevity. As durable as any window material may be, at least some maintenance will be required for window care. For a quick guideline to caring for your home’s windows, here are four main window material types and their general requirements for maintenance.
Aluminum clad windows are not only beautiful looking, but are considered to be very low maintenance as well. In fact, most of the surface dirt collected on the exterior can be expected to wash away with just normal rainfall. For cleaning aluminum clad windows more thoroughly, there’s a simple three step process for care. First, washing the cladding gently with a rag or car brush should remove the remainder of the surface dirt. Marvin’s aluminum clad windows use an automotive grade exterior paint to prevent wear and tear when cleaning. Their superior quality leads to a longer lasting exterior clad coloring, even after deep cleaning.
When washing with detergents, avoid using any solvents or heavy cleaners. Stick to mild detergents like dish soap. Gentle soaps can still clear the windows of any unwanted debris like insects, mold, or dirt. After washing, clear the soap with clean water thoroughly to rinse. Once dry, you may use car wax for added shine if you wish.
Caring for wood windows is different from other window types because it requires a bit more maintenance with its natural material structure. If you are an owner of wood windows, make it a priority to clean and check for wear and tear about once a year. This will help to keep the wood from being exposed and vulnerable to damage from old, deficient caulk or cracked paint.
For wood exterior, remove any light surface dirt on the painted wood exterior with water and a soft-bristled brush. For excessive amounts of dirt accumulated, you can remove by washing with a mild solution or soap. Other cleaning solution formulas that are safe for cleaning painted wood can consist of a mix of an alcohol and water base which can be effective as well.
When cleaning, to avoid (or at least minimize) streaking down the surface of the windows, wash in order from top to bottom. Especially when cleaning your wood windows with detergents, rinse the surface well with clean water, as prolonged contact with the wood from the detergent can cause damage to the finish. Other solutions that can damage the wood’s finish are any cleaning supplies that have a strong chemical compound like ammonia or harsh detergents. Solvents or any abrasive-type cleaners should also be avoided.
Take the time to examine for small damage marks while cleaning your wood windows. Nicks and scratches can be easily covered and touched up with some quality latex primer and paint. Trim any old, loose caulk from and reseal the gaps as needed. For brand new wood windows, it is suggested to cover with finish immediately in order to preserve the material.
Cleaning fiberglass windows is a simple process, but it should be done more frequently to keep its spotless appearance. One of the first things you will want to do for your new fiberglass windows is to remove the labels from the glass. Most of the time adhesive labels will leave the residue on the glass, it’s rare there will be a clean and easy release of the sticker label. To take remove the adhesive residue, soak the label with rubbing alcohol and then rub the alcohol into the label gently until it’s completely removed. This can also be done with nail polish remover as well. Be sure to avoid any weather strips or finishes near the window when using these chemicals.
Once the labels are removed, you can then clean the glass starting from the top of the home or building, and continue downward to lower levels. Avoid cleaning fiberglass windows when they are exposed to direct sunlight. Begin by cleaning with soapy water to remove dirt and unwanted debris. Then use a non abrasive solution for windows and glass to wash thoroughly. Immediately after washing, remove the used solution with a squeegee and be sure not to let any part of the metal of the equipment come in contact with the glass as it could scratch it.
If you’ve purchased vinyl windows for your home, one of the things to note is that they can be easily scratched and discolored, so caution should be taken when cleaning them. As with every other window material, use clean water when removing surface dirt before washing with gentle soapy water. This helps to avoid scratching the material if debris were to be caught between the cloth and the glass. In addition, you may want to remove any jewelry such as rings, bracelets or watches before washing as they have potential to puncture the vinyl. Like every other window material, do not use harsh cleaning agents containing ammonia or other abrasive chemicals. They can do damage to the vinyl and may cost you your warranty as well.
When cleaning the window frame itself, use the same caution as you would the glass. (Use mild cleaning agents, clean water, soft cloths for washing, and use minimal pressure to avoid scratching.) Before actual dirt removal with washing, take a vacuum attachment and vacuum the panel frame with a soft brush nozzle. Once the panel frames have been brushed and cleaned, you can then apply a UV protectant to the glass after the cleaning. There are UV protectant products as well as vinyl polish available to assist with keeping panels both visibly clear and clear from sun damage.
Extend the life of your windows, regardless of material type by scheduling regular cleaning sessions and maintenance checks. While some window materials may require less upkeep than others, it’s still worth the time to do a maintenance check about once a year to determine if things such as the weatherstrip and exterior caulking are still functioning properly. Even the most durable windows will probably need some level of care throughout their lifetime, and a regular cleaning schedule can help your windows look new for years.