Is Newspaper Really The Best Choice For Cleaning Windows?

If you're a homeowner who's trying to use more natural methods of cleaning, you've no doubt seen the advice to use something like vinegar and newspaper. This is a harmless and very helpful combination, but using newspaper to clean off the window can be an exercise in frustration. If you have the patience to use newspaper, you can end up with beautiful windows. But weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using newspaper to clean windows to see whether you should attempt to use it or something else.

Good Points

Newspaper does seem to work; otherwise, no one would continue to recommend it. It doesn't leave lint all over the glass like some paper towels can, and it's certainly cheap. Instead of having to keep buying new toweling or keep washing reusable cleaning cloths, you can use newspaper that is probably already sitting around your house.

It is also simple to use: Just crumple up a page and start wiping the vinegar-soaked windows. Start in a circular motion, covering the whole surface of the glass, and then -- with another piece of dry newspaper -- gently wipe down the glass again with vertical motions, from top to bottom.

Things to Consider

But, the newspaper print can be a problem. Not only do you end up getting that on your hands, but you also can end up with smudges along the window frame, especially if the frame is colored white. These need additional cleaning, and you'd end up using toweling anyway. That can lead to a bit of a mess if a little lint gets left on the glass after you clean off the frame.

Newspaper can also fall apart as it gets wetter and wetter. As the paper soaks up more vinegar, the pages can fall apart. So you'd have to keep scrubbing to be sure you removed all of the bits of the paper. This can make using the newspaper about as annoying as using a lint-festooned paper towel, so you'll have to keep changing the newspaper and using dry sheets.

This Old House brings up an interesting issue with newspaper -- that it might be one step forward leading to two steps back. Newspaper is wonderfully absorbent; that's how it holds the ink on the page. By that same token, newspaper will soak up the moisture on the window.

But the newspaper will not soak up all of the dirt -- yes, dirt will stick to the paper as the vinegar is wiped away. But if there's dry dirt or the paper is saturated, there's only so much you can pick up. This Old House notes that newspaper tends to push a lot of dirt around on the window instead of picking it up.

The rubbing needed to scrub the window also creates a static charge. you know those dust cloths that seem to pick up all the dust they come in contact with? Those have a static charge that attracts dust. So if rubbing window glass with newspaper creates a static charge on your window, guess what's going to happen? More dust will be attracted to the glass. This Old House suggests a squeegee might be a better option.

If you still want to use newspaper -- after all, squeegees can leave streaks if not used properly, and they can break -- do so carefully. Keep an eye out for how dirty the window seems to get over time. If it doesn't seem to get dirty very quickly, then newspaper works for you. If it seems like it's getting dirtier, faster, then try something like a squeegee.

Window companies often have efficient processes for cleaning glass given how much of it they have in their showrooms. Try contacting a window company, like Ken Caryl Glass, Inc., to see if they can give you tips on how to make cleaning your windows more effective.