How to Clean Outside Windows You Can’t Reach: A Simple Instructional Guide

Discover practical strategies for safely and effectively cleaning those hard-to-reach outside windows, leveraging tools and techniques trusted by professionals.

Key takeaways:

  • Assess safety: Check ground, ladder, obstacles, weather, personal comfort.
  • Choose tools: Extendable pole, squeegee, brush, water-fed pole system, hose.
  • Prepare solution: Use commercial product or vinegar-water mixture.
  • Rinse and dry: Use distilled water, go top to bottom, squeegee, dry edges.
  • Hire professionals for multi-story homes, specialty glass, or stubborn stains.

Assess the Safety and Accessibility of the Window

assess the safety and accessibility of the window

Before tackling hard-to-reach windows, perform a risk assessment to ensure cleaning can be done safely. Consider the following:

  • Ground Condition: Examine the ground for stability. Uneven or soft terrain may not safely support ladders.
  • Ladder Safety: Choose a sturdy ladder that extends at least three feet above the window ledge for a secure grip. Ensure it’s angled properly: about one foot away from the building for every four feet in height.
  • Obstacles: Look around for power lines, tree branches, or other obstructions that could pose a hazard when working at height.
  • Weather Conditions: Avoid cleaning exterior windows in inclement weather, such as high winds or during precipitation, as these can increase the risk of slipping or falling.
  • Personal Comfort: Be honest about your comfort level with heights. If you feel uneasy, leaning out or climbing a ladder to reach a window could be dangerous.

Choose the Right Cleaning Tools

Equipping yourself with appropriate tools is vital for effectively cleaning hard-to-reach windows. Here’s the rundown:

– An extendable window-cleaning pole allows you to reach high windows from ground level. – A squeegee attachment for the pole facilitates streak-free drying. – A soft-bristled brush attachment can dislodge dust and cobwebs. – For very high windows, a water-fed pole system that pumps purified water up the pole can be used—perfect for a spotless finish without the need for drying. – A hose with a spray attachment may help in pre-rinsing windows when using a water-fed pole isn’t feasible.

Select tools based on the window height and your ability to maneuver them. Remember, the goal is to clean effectively without compromising safety.

Prepare and Apply the Cleaning Solution

Select a cleaning solution designed for exterior window cleaning. You can either purchase a commercial product or make your own by combining one part vinegar with ten parts water for an effective homemade alternative.

Fill a garden sprayer with your chosen solution, which allows for easy application to the inaccessible windows.

Spray the solution liberally onto the windows, starting from the top and working your way down to ensure a consistent application. Let it sit for a minute to start dissolving any dirt and grime.

For tough stains, you can use a mop or soft-bristled brush attached to an extension pole to gently scrub the surface without needing a ladder. Remember, using minimal pressure can prevent any damage to the window.

Rinse and Dry the Window to Prevent Streaks

After applying the cleaning solution, it’s important to thoroughly rinse away any soap or cleaner residue. This will prevent streaking—a common issue that obscures the clarity of glass.

Follow these steps for a streak-free finish:

  • Use clean water: Preferably, spray or pour distilled water to avoid mineral deposits from tap water.
  • Go top to bottom: Start rinsing from the top of the window to ensure the entire surface is covered as the water flows down.
  • Be generous: Don’t skimp on the water. Give the window a good wash to remove all traces of the cleaner.
  • Employ a squeegee: If accessible, use a squeegee to remove the rinse water. Pull it from top to bottom in a smooth motion, wiping the edge after each stroke.
  • Dry edges: Use a microfiber cloth to dab away water from the corners and edges, which will help eliminate potential streaking spots.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Whenever possible, clean windows on a cloudy day or when the window is in the shade to prevent quick drying that can leave streaks.

When to Hire a Professional Window Cleaner

Hiring a professional window cleaner is recommended if:

  • You live in a multi-story home where reaching high windows poses a significant risk of falling. Professionals are equipped with the right ladders and safety gear.
  • The windows have not been cleaned for an extended period, and the build-up of dirt and grime requires more advanced techniques and solutions.
  • You have windows with specialty glass that calls for specific cleaning agents or methods to prevent damage.
  • Your schedule is tight, and dedicating time to window cleaning is not feasible. Professionals can do the job efficiently while you focus on other tasks.
  • There’s a presence of stubborn stains, like mineral deposits or hard water spots. Professionals have the appropriate cleaners to tackle these without scratching the glass.

In these scenarios, a professional window cleaning service ensures your windows are cleaned safely and effectively, preventing potential accidents and damage.


What is the best tool for cleaning hard to reach windows?

The best tool for cleaning hard-to-reach windows is a lightweight carbon fiber extension pole.

What safety measures should be considered when cleaning hard-to-reach windows?

When cleaning hard-to-reach windows, ensure safety measures such as using an extendable tool, ladder safety (ensuring stability and never overreaching), often checking for glass cracks/fractures, and considering professional help if necessary.

How effective are magnetic window cleaners for unreachable windows?

Magnetic window cleaners are highly effective for unreachable windows as they clean both sides of the window simultaneously by using two magnetic halves that stay connected through the glass.

What techniques can be used to remove stubborn stains on hard-to-reach windows?

Stubborn stains on hard-to-reach windows can be effectively removed using a combination of water and vinegar solution, a long-handled window-washing brush, and a squeegee with extension pole.