Cleaning Interior Windows, Sills, Frames, and Muntins

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Hello Home Ec 101,

I love and desperately need your site! Thank you! Adulting IS hard.

I didn’t see anything in the windows section about how to clean the window muntin (mine appear to be painted with a non-slick paint) or the window frames (mine appear to be painted with some kind of slick paint).

I imagine those are not the technically proper terms for the paints used…

Can you help me know what is best to use to clean these surfaces and/or the best way(s) in which to do it, please?

Thank you so much!

I Do Windows

Heather says

If adulting is hard, home ownership / maintenance is the hidden, secret bonus level everyone talks about. Sure there’s a great reward, but man it can be a pain. 

Home-Ec 101's Guide to Windows

It’s absolutely okay to admit not knowing all of the technical terms for things. Most of us are just muddling through. Here, we have a basic window anatomy lesson and how to clean the tracks and sills of your windows. (Think of these as the dust and debris collecting interior bits of the window).

While it’s possible that there were different types of paint used on the muntin or the strips that divide the panes of glass in your window.  It’s also possible that these strips simply weren’t sanded as finely as the rest of the wood in the makeup of the window. This depends on a few things including the age of your home and the interior finish level of the house which was determined at the time it was built.  Obviously, if the muntin is stained and the sills are painted, different products were used.

Cleaning interior window frames and sills ranks somewhere around having my teeth scraped on the list of things Heather enjoys. Therefore remember that the more regularly you dry clean the windows the less often you’ll need to do the deep, damp clean. 

If it has been a long time since the muntin was cleaned you’re going to want to start with the soft bristle attachment of your vacuum. This will reduce the number of rags, paper towels, and q-tips you burn through. Remove as much as you can with the dry method before proceeding to the wet.

Once the dry cleaning has been performed, get a small bucket, a terry cloth rag, plain dish soap, and a microfiber towel. Add a small squirt of soap to the water and then use the damp terry cloth rag to clean the frames.  Follow up the cleaning with a wipe from the microfiber towel to prevent streaking the glass or having late drips appear.  Be especially careful if your windows have the false frames on the outside of a single pane of glass. Some professional window cleaners refuse clients who have this window design. If professionals don’t want to take on the headache, that says a lot about the hassle factor, remember this when it comes time to replace the windows.

If the corners of the individual frames are particularly grody (see I speak in technical terms, too) you may want to try a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Make a baking soda paste with a tiny bit of water, apply with a q-tip or soft bristled tooth brush, then dampen the mixture with white vinegar. The chemical reaction will lift the dirt and it can then be removed with paper towels or additional cotton swabs. 

Remember that wood absorbs water and the goal is to work quickly through the wet phase exposing the wood to as little water as possible. 

I highly recommend queuing up your favorite music or podcasts as you’re going to be busy for quite awhile. If you have a lot of windows, don’t take the whole house on at once. Work your way through one room a week, but don’t forget to regularly dust the ones you’ve already done so you can postpone the need to revisit this particular pain in the neck.

If you need help cleaning the windows themselves, that post is here.

If you need help cleaning extremely dirty windows, that post is here.

Good luck!

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