Harshing My Mellow

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on May 7, 2014

I have a child who had the hardest time learning to ride his bike. Siblings much younger than this sweet child of mine were racing up and down the street but he just couldn’t put all the pieces together. As traumatic experiences go, I guess it was mild, but it felt huge and stressful and potentially life-ruining for a very long time.

I made the mistake of trying to comfort him when he was struggling with something unrelated by saying, “Don’t worry, sweetie. It’s just like riding bike! It can be hard at first but once you get it, it will be easy for the rest of your life.”

Hello, Foot. Meet Mouth.

He replied, fairly enough, by saying, “So what you’re saying is that it’s going to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, I will struggle for years, and perhaps never succeed?” (I paraphrase. His comedic timing is much better than mine.)

The good news (in a the clouds parted and all the angels sang kind of way) is that he is now a bike riding master. In fact, 4/6 of my crew are training wheels-free and I know it’s only bike riding but I feel like it’s the biggest victory I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Top 3, minimum.

Bike ridin'.jpg

Anyway, I bet you think I’m about to draw some analogy to how marriage is really, really hard in the beginning but then you figure it out and it becomes super easy and free of strife.

Hahahahahahaha. You’d never think that, would you?

No, today I’m talking about…window washing. I find window washing as difficult, frustrating, and unintuitive as my child found bike riding. Don’t even try to tell me that all I need is Windex and a cloth because that doesn’t work in my universe. The streaks! And the dirty corners! And the dust specks!

I die.

No, seriously. I’m trapped in some sort of window washing Purgatory and I’m desperate to get free. So, please (pretty with a cherry on top-style) get down on your knees, offer up your suffering, and leave all your brilliant advice in the combox.

Because as I mentioned yesterday, I’m in a rare spring cleaning-obsessed mood and these windows are harshing my mellow in a big, big way.

Thank you in advance, peaches. You’re the best. Always.

Lisa May 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

Hallie, check out the Norwex window cloth. It is the single most important cleaning tool in my arsenal. SO EASY! Gets all of the greasy kid prints off with just a spray bottle of water and this cloth. A bit pricey but SO WORTH IT.

MrsDarwin May 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

When I worked at a printing press these many years ago, the way we cleaned the big camera glass plates was with crumpled newspaper and windex (or cheap windex knock-off). The paper keeps the glass from getting streaky, and I can attest that on the rare occasions when I clean glass, the paper really works. This is about the only housekeeping shortcut I know, so you’re welcome to it.
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Sabrina May 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

No tips, but can I just say that only you could make a blog post about window washing this charming?

Layla May 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

I’m commenting just so I can follow/glean other readers’ wisdom. My windows are in A State. I need to capitalize on this little bump of second-tri energy combined with Spring Fever and do something about it.

Kathryn May 7, 2014 at 10:02 am

Coming off a recent nesting spree, get thyself a microfiber cloth (I got mine on amazon) and mix three parts water, one part vinegar into a spray bottle. Voila!

GeekLady May 7, 2014 at 10:34 am

Well, it depends on whether you’re washing the inside or the outside of the windows. For inside, a 10% ammonia solution should work fine. If they’re awful and greasy and the window cleaner isn’t working on it, use a light cleaner like Mrs. Meyers all purpose to clean them, rinse them with water, and then use the glass cleaner to clean up the streakiness.

Also, Mrs. Meyer’s new rosemary scent is wonderful and marvelous.

For outside, my mom uses some soap attachment that clips on the hose, I think.

I’ve been doing a bunch of spring cleaning stuff too. I ought to post a bunch of cleaning tips.
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Kate May 7, 2014 at 10:38 am

Hallie, ditch the Windex. :-) It doesn’t matter what spray you use–and, actually, some sprays can build up over time because of the shine agents (wax, basically) they put in them. You want a vinegar and water spray, and newspaper or brown paper (the big rolls of wrapping or craft paper work great.)

If you want to be a bit more high tech, buy some microfiber cloths. No need to get a pricey as-sold-on-tv cloth, either. Any halfway decent microfiber will do–it’s more important that you care for them properly (don’t wash with lint-y items like cotton, and hang them to dry.)
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Kate May 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

Oh! And it’s ALL ABOUT THE BUFF! You want to dry off the cleaning spray, and then use another cloth or piece of newspaper and just keep buffing until everything is shiny and streak free. :-)
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Julie May 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

Ditch the cloth and use old newspaper.
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Kayla May 7, 2014 at 11:39 am

Haha! So far we’ve only rented and haven’t had the chance to wash our own windows but lemme tell ya, if we could right now, we would! We live on the 3rd floor and there is a GIANT bird poop mark on our bathroom window. I don’t know how it even happened! But of course the window doesn’t open so I just have to deal with it every time I’m in there. Awful, I tell you.

Anyways, the best of luck to you and pleeeeeease report your results so I can try the method whenever we no longer are renters!
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Caitlyn May 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I had a hard time learning to ride my bike (it wasn’t until I was 9!) so I can understand. Windows aren’t so hard for me but mostly because I rarely do them! You can do it – even if it is the hardest thing in the world. :)
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Mandi @ Messy Wife, Blessed Life May 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Vinegar and newspaper!

Lisa Schmidt May 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Norwex, Norwex, Norwex — cloth and water is all you need. I was skeptical at first, but so many of my trusted friends swear by the products, so I pulled the trigger and bought some. I will never go back. I even bet one of your readers sells the stuff. I know several consultants just here in the Des Moines Catholic community. Good luck!!
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Lisa Schmidt May 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm

^^ Yes, this. She’s so right! :)
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Danielle May 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm

A microfiber cloth changed my window washing life. I still use windex but after reading the above comment am wondering if I need to ditch it!!
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Veronica Herr May 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

The trick is using both Norwex cloths – microfiber one first to clean all the yuck, then the window cloth to shine it all. I can’t promise yet , but I bet I can find two to send your way. :) let me check my stash (I do sell them, but really only do reorders now), and then I’ll email you for your address. :)
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Becky D. May 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Just a few random tips- I don’t know if you should even consider taking my advice because I don’t clean windows very often, but for what it’s worth: divide window cleaning into as many distinct parts as you can. For instance, inside and outside, edge parts and middle of the pane parts, ordinary windows, and big picture windows. Then figure out one definable part that is the easiest for you, for instance inner part of each pane on the inside part of the oridnary window. Then take a good look at the window when it is dirty, then clean just that definable part, then stand back and look. If you don’t see a difference, don’t clean until the windows are dirtier. If you do see a difference, see if that gives you incentive to clean the other dirty areas. Quit cleaning windows before you are tired of it, and always, always look at what you have done.

Any windows that are in reach of any kids can be, depending on what you want to establish (you can do only one of these for the rest of your life, so choose carefully) : the go-to punishment chore, OR the most privileged volunteer chore (you have to qualify for this by demonstrating competence, and there could be a competition for best window cleaner) OR a regular paid chore for anyone short of money. Cleaning outside windows could become the choice for people who are likely to be doing risky things anyway.

And seriously, don’t do them too often. They really should be dirty enough that you can easily see your progress. There is nothing more encouraging than seeing that you have made a difference.

Jesabes May 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Exactly what I was going to say! My four-year-old cleans our windows with the Norwex cloth – I won’t say she gets them entirely clean/streak-free, but she does a pretty good job and all with only water. I’m just happy I don’t have to do it:)

Elise @ in endless song May 7, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Can’t say I have any great window washing advice, but I sympathize with your son! I will never live down the fact that my little sister learned to ride a bike first. Alas! :)
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Jamie May 7, 2014 at 7:06 pm

I just need to put in my vote for a vinegar/water solution…vinegar is miraculous. I use lint free cloths now but my mom always made us wash with crumpled newspaper growing up!! :)
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Julia May 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

As for your window washing Purgatory, I feel your pain, although it appears I have been sent to laundry Purgatory. While caught up on the back loads of wash, and more or less with folding, I cannot get myself to put things back into drawers and closets. The bigger issue is that I have to address removing and storing winter wear to make room for spring things in limited dresser space, but ughhh. I have willingly scrubbed floors and pulled up a full kitchen garbage bag’s worth of dandelions instead of dealing with laundry.

As for windows, I don’t tend to mine nearly as often as I should, but when I do, I am on Team Vinegar. For that matter, I make a vinegar/borax spray cleaning solution to use on other hard surfaces around the house (Dr. Oz has a good recipe) — we try to avoid the standard chemical cleaners as much as possible.

Lastly, as odd as this may sound, when it comes to any sort of chore albatross, I find that inserting a little beauty into the scene energizes my batteries. At the grocery store today I picked up happiest bouquet of yellow Gerbera daisies I’ve ever seen, and their presence made cleaning the kitchen this evening all the more pleasant. I guess I should heed my own advice and bring them upstairs tomorrow morning to see if their magic rubs off on the Laundry Situation…
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Erin May 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

I just tried a mix of vinegar, water, rubbing alcohol, and corn starch. It worked GREAT, better than (I have to say) the vinegar/water solution I’d tried. I think the best part is the feeling of awesomeness I got from knowing it was DIY. Take that, Windex!

1/4 c. rubbing alcohol
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 c. warm water

Shake before using. The corn starch settles.

Jennifer Dillman May 8, 2014 at 8:51 am

I agree with the Norwex suggestions! Really, it will be life changing! ;)
I sell Norwex currently, so if you’d like to browse my site, check it out. http://www.jenniferdillman.com Or email me and I can tell you all about it. :) Best of luck, sweet Hallie!

Rachel May 8, 2014 at 9:24 am

I agree – Norwex is the way to go! I LOVE my window cloth, and it works amazing, with no chemicals! And when you consider that you only buy it once, unlike wind ex and paper towels, the price isn’t so bad.

Katie May 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

You are a girl after my own heart. Bike riding ability stresses me out, man. In part it is because my oldest has some processing issues, but he FINALLY got it (he is almost 8) and I can’t tell you the joy in heart when I saw him riding ahead of me with a stroller. His sisters are right around the corner, and when the 3 oldest all have it, I will be a content momma. I feel better knowing other mom’s feel this way too.

Jenny May 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

I bought a 30 pack of hideous yellow microfiber cloths at Costco a couple months ago and ditched all cleaning supplies and paper towels save for a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s all purpose solution. I use the cloths + water for everything…and they work so, so well on windows and mirrors! All those years of ammonia…I feel so betrayed. But, moving on, now I keep a stack of the microfibers under every sink in the house and my bathrooms are actually sort of clean now. I do a load of cloths-only laundry maybe every 10 days. xoxo
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Ashley R May 8, 2014 at 10:18 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but rarely comment. Having just cleaned the windows of my second story Chinese apartment today, I totally loved this post. In China we have these handy magnetic things, two pieces attached by string, one for outside, one for inside. One end is a small felt for washing and the other is a squeegee for follow-up. They work pretty well with dish soap and water or vinegar and water. But the pollution of a Chinese city with 9 million people is kind of hard to wash off. I dumped more buckets of inky black water today than I care to admit. So my inclination is to tell you to just call it good enough and pour a glass of iced tea. Perhaps not much help? If you must clean, microfiber and vinegar/water solution are my favorites.

GeekLady May 8, 2014 at 10:21 am

Oh, there’s nothing wrong with ammonia. It’s perfectly natural and a good mild disinfectant.
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Martha May 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

Wow, Ashley, you just made me feel much better about living on a farm on the prairie. My window issues aren’t so much about the glass as they are about the piles of dirt inside all of the sills, but it sounds much easier to deal with than inky soot on the panes! You poor thing, I’m sure you free countless souls from Purgatory each and every time you attempt cleaning your windows! :D

Katrina May 8, 2014 at 11:31 am

Windex and crumpled newspaper!!! Cheapest thing and works like a charm… Literally streak free! :D

MamaStork May 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Here are my tips:

-Don’t window wash at the hottest/sunniest part of the day. The streaks will dry faster.

-I use paper towels, and I never use a towel for more than one wipe — I’m not super big on rags because unless you have a ton of them you wind up re-wiping with something dirty. That really doesn’t work well when you want that streak free shine.

-I use Windex.

-I work from top to bottom, getting in the top corners first.

-I wipe off in big strokes, not circular motions.

Hope that helps?
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Sterling May 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I have just convinced myself that dog nose prints and toddler finger prints are like the stained glass windows of motherhood and it really would be a shame to wash them away.

And… I’m attending a Norwex party tonight to see what all the fuss is about and hopefully to mend my dirty window ways.

Beka May 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Dido on Norwex window cloth!

Cynthia May 8, 2014 at 5:59 pm

God has given me many gifts…but being an excellent housekeeper is not one of them so I completely understand this brand of suffering. Offer it up and I will think of you when I next do battle with cleaning our tub – by personal nemesis ;) And I will read the comments eagerly to see what others suggest

Ginny May 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm
cathy lorio May 9, 2014 at 10:13 am

I assume you are talking about cleaning the inside of your windows, but I just came across this method for cleaning the outside: HERE’S A MAGICAL WAY TO CLEAN YOUR WINDOWS!!!
This is the best way EVER to clean your windows!!! No drying is needed, and you won’t have any spots or streaks on your window! You can clean 2 big sliding glass doors and 8 large windows in minutes!!!

Here are the ingredients you need to use:
1/2 gallon warm water
1 Tablespoon of liquid “Jet Dry”
2-3 Tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent or dish washing soap

Mix all of the ingredients above. Spray your windows down with your hose to get them wet then wipe or brush on the solution onto your windows, then immediately hose it off. That’s all there is to it and you’re done. The remaining water just sheets off and you don’t need to dry it off!

Jennifer May 9, 2014 at 11:29 pm

I have large windows that go all the way to the ground. The kids love to hang out there and bird watch. Hello little people and dirty fingers! Said windows are in the dining room within food flinging distance of the toddler. The ONLY thing I have found that works is vinegar water and a cotton cloth. The catch is that you can’t use any fabric softener or residue leaving laundry soap on the cloth. Fabric softener leaves major streaks!

Momtomany May 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Hot sudsy water….I use dawn dish soap ……and a squeegee a towel to wipe up the water off of the squeegee …….works perfect

Bley May 15, 2014 at 8:37 pm

E-cloths window washing pack: all you need is water, they’re pretty awesome!

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