Vinyl Window Frame Cleaner: What Works Best?
New windows are undoubtedly a lasting investment. Newly installed vinyl windows can save you on energy expenses, up your resell value and add modern aesthetics to your curb appeal. As a homeowner, you take pride in every aspect of your home, especially if it’s a do-it-yourself improvement project that you took on by yourself.
Or perhaps your home doesn’t have brand new windows but still has decent vinyl windows that still have half of their lifespan to go. Keeping windows clean is a part of maintenance, regardless of how new they are. While vinyl windows don’t require much upkeep, unlike wood windows, they still need to be spruced up every so often.
Dust and grime from daily life and outdoor elements can coat your vinyl and diminish its smooth, clean appearance. Winter alone can wreak havoc on the outside of your house, with dirty snow piling up and coating your siding and your windows. That’s why it’s a good idea to know how to clean your vinyl windows, making it an easy chore to do come nicer weather.
The Old Fashioned Way: Vinegar and Water
Vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner for cleaning window frames. You can use vinegar to achieve basically any housekeeping project that needs a good wipe down and even fabrics that need their foul stench eradicated. Vinegar transforms the dirtiest and grimiest surfaces to sparkling clean when combined with water, and for good measure, lemon juice. And unlike other cleaners, vinegar is gentle yet neutralizing.
Wiping down your vinyl windows is easy with this solution. Just mix three parts distilled white vinegar to seven parts water. You can use a bucket or better yet, a professional grade spray bottle. Vinegar doesn’t exactly smell pleasant when you’re using it, but adding a little lemon juice to the mix can make the odor more tolerable for a day’s worth of cleaning.
Spray the vinyl windows until satisfied, letting the solution sit for a few minutes to dissolve surface grime. Then, take a scrub brush with soft bristles to loosen any debris. Finally, wipe off the vinegar and water solution with a soft cloth; you can use a microfiber cloth or even your old rag, whatever works for you. The frame should quickly transform from dirty to bright and clean.
The vinegar and water solution is the simplest, easiest window frame cleaner you can use on your vinyl windows. If you do any house cleaning projects, you probably already have a huge bottle of vinegar on hand already, which makes this cleaner so great—no special trip to the store required.
Non-Detergent Soap and Warm Water
If you don’t have vinegar lying around the house, chances are your laundry room probably has non-detergent soap handy. Products like Dreft, Woolite, or Murphy Oil Soap can be used as a window frame cleaner.
Vinyl can be sensitive to abrasive cleaners with harsh chemicals. You don’t want to take a chance with cleaners if you aren’t certain about how the vinyl surface will react to them, especially if they aren’t designed for vinyl frame use.
Products that have alcohol or an ammonia base to them like Windex or certain dishwashing detergents should never be used on your vinyl window frames. This is something to keep in mind when you are getting this chore checked off of your house upkeep list.
Mix a quarter cup mild, non-detergent soap with a gallon of warm water in a large container or bucket. Once the soap is dissolved, you can keep the solution either in the bucket or transfer it over to your professional spray bottle, whichever is easiest for you to use.
Use the solution the same way you would with the vinegar and water mixture, by spraying, letting the mix remain on the frame for a few minutes, and then wiping the window frame dry. The non-detergent soap will dissolve and break down the vinyl frame’s dirt and surface debris. You can follow this up by rinsing the frame again with clean water, drying the frame’s surface with a microfiber cloth or towel.
If you don’t have mild non-detergent soap around the house, you can also use baby shampoo. Baby shampoo is made for infants, so you know there won’t be any damage on your vinyl window frames if you choose to use it. Mix the baby shampoo in with warm water—you won’t need much. Wipe the vinyl surface again with plain water, drying it with a cloth.
Products for Tougher Stains
Vinyl windows can withstand a lot of abuse, but in some cases, stains may linger and become too stubborn for non-brand name mixtures, like our previously mentioned non-detergent soap or vinegar solutions. If these solutions don’t cut it, then it’s time to turn to a stronger window frame cleaner. Brand-name cleaners might require a special trip to the store, but your local drugstore, hardware store, or grocery store should carry vinyl-safe cleaning products.
Fantastik can remove tougher stains like inks and dyes. Using Fantastik is simple, there are instructions provided on the packaging, but basically, this method just involves spritzing down the vinyl window frame directly on the stain, waiting several moments for the chemicals to dissolve the stain, wiping the product off, and repeating if needed. Clean the area when the stain is removed with a damp washcloth.
If the stain refuses to come off with Fantastik, try other products that are safe for use on vinyl window frames like WD-40, Soft Scrub, and Bar Keeper’s Friend. If you choose to use these products on your vinyl frames, remember to wipe down the area with plain lukewarm water and a dry cloth.
Other Tips for Cleaning Your Vinyl Window Frames
As you can see, the simpler the window frame cleaning solution, the better. Vinyl’s glossy surface doesn’t need much for it to bounce back after a particularly dirt and debris filled season, and in many cases, warm water can do the trick just fine.
If you’re already grabbing your bucket full of cleaning solution, you might as well go the distance in really cleaning up your vinyl window frames. Bring out your shop vacuum or a handheld dust-buster and suck up any debris and dead insects from the windowsill.
Vacuuming only adds a few extra minutes to your cleaning schedule, and come winter when you’re relaxing and enjoying the inside of your home, you’ll be glad you made this extra effort.
If you’re cleaning your vinyl window frames, then you should take an extra moment to clean the glass, too. Windex or other glass cleaners can do the job just fine, but make sure to avoid getting anything ammonia based on your vinyl window frames, or it could damage them. If you should happen to misfire the Windex or glass cleaner, wipe it off of the frame right away with a damp cloth.
Cleaning your vinyl window frames is easy, but yes, it is still a chore. However, if you neglect this job or use the wrong cleaner, you can expect some damage to the vinyl frame. You should be cleaning your window frames at least once a year, preferably after the winter season.
If you’re interested in the best way to clean your window glass, check out our article on how to clean windows like a pro.
Replacing Your Vinyl Windows
If you’re considering replacing your windows altogether, Feldco offers Midwest homeowners many options when it comes to vinyl windows. Since 1976, we’ve served over 350,000 customers across the Midwest and we appreciate the relationship that we established with our customers. You can get a free quote now and we’ll help you with all of your vinyl windows needs.