Here's the bottom line: I'm lazy. I'm unlikely to clean anything if it isn't super-easy. So I'm always looking for super-easy ways to clean things. (Because, despite my laziness, I still like things clean.)
It probably doesn't surprise you that our windows haven't been cleaned since before we moved in last year. (We did the final clean ourselves to save the $2,000+ we would have had to pay for the builder's cleaning crew to do it. What can I say? I'm motivated by cash. Especially when you consider that we probably only spent five to ten hours cleaning, so that's a pretty good hourly rate.) Not only did our first window-cleaning effort take some time and a lot of paper towels and Windex, but we also had to haul a ladder all around the exterior (especially the back, where the lot slopes slightly down and the windows are therefore higher off the ground). But it was definitely time to clean them again, after a year of general dust and grime and a variety of smudges (like this bird-related one):
Most of our windows are double-hung, so we can tilt them inward to clean them from inside (not that that means I've actually done it), but the fixed-glass picture windows and the various daylighting windows can only be cleaned from outside. So I was on the lookout for a way to clean them without needing to haul the ladder around, and I realized that a long-handled squeegee that also had some kind of scrubber might fit the bill. I looked at Amazon.com and Lowe's but decided that this Michael Graves model from Target looked most like what I had in mind:
The handle extends to more than five feet, which is perfect to reach the tops of our windows. And although the squeegee and the scrubber can each be screwed into the handle (one at a time), they also nest in a way that allows access to both at the same time. So it's really easy to scrub with the fuzzy scrubber side...
...and then flip it around and squeegee the window dry:
I realized after I got it home that I hadn't paid attention to the price, and I was shocked to find that it was only $9.79. (After seeing how easy it is to use, I would have paid three times that.) And there are two bonuses that I didn't even realize but that totally appeal to this fundamentally lazy earth-lover. First, I don't need to spend any time cleaning the cleaner -- it comes off and goes in the washing machine. (That's also why I've started using damp rags to clean our tile floors -- I just toss them in the washer when I'm finished, and they come out clean with zero effort from me.) Second, I don't have to use any chemicals (or paper products). Just some water will loosen pretty much all of the grime (although I used a few drops of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day liquid soap on the first window).
Of course, I can't scrub-and-squeegee the insides of the windows (or the ones inside the screened porch, unfortunately), so I'm stuck with chemical cleaners there, but we've graduated from Windex to the product the pros use:
We learned about Sprayway from the guys who installed the glass wall in our bathroom, and whether it is truly the "world's best," it definitely works way better than Windex.
So there you have our window-cleaning shortcuts. If you have any lazy-cleaning tips to share, I'll just be lying around waiting....