Unlike the walls of your house, windows show all the fingerprints, dog slobber and overall grime that builds up on the glass. When they’re dirty, it’s obvious. If you’ve been hiding them behind blinds and curtains then it’s probably time to give them a good wipe down. A good general rule is to wash them at least twice a year.

What you will need to clean your windows effectively:

— Store bought glass cleaner or white vinegar
— Untreated paper towel, newspaper, or lint-free cloth
— Soft-bristle brush
— Towel/cloths to wipe up spills
— Sponge
— Squeegee

There are a few different ways to do this: using a store-bought solution or making one yourself at home.

If you want a quick, convenient solution and don’t mind a slightly streaky finish then use a bottle of Windex or another glass cleaner, like Puracy’s, which is one of Amazon’s top-rated non-toxic cleaning solutions.

Don’t use an absorbent paper towel or cloth treated with fabric softener to spread the solution because you’ll also end up leaving lint and film behind. To avoid streaks use an untreated paper towel, newspaper or lint-free cloth. According to Windex, old cotton diapers (unused, of course) are a good choice. From there it’s pretty straight forward, just spray the solution and wipe it dry.

If you’d rather not buy a pre-made window cleaner, you can easily make your own using vinegar.

Vinegar is essentially a one-stop shop for cleaning around the house, from getting the grime out of your microwave to unclogging drains, so it’s good to have on hand anyway.

To clean your windows, there’s a few options for homemade solutions:

— One part hot water to one part white vinegar
— Dishwashing liquid and warm water
— If windows are totally filthy: warm up one cup of white vinegar (don’t add water) and apply it directly to the glass

Once you have a solution ready to go, follow the directions below:

1. Make sure the window is free of dirt, dust and cobwebs by using a soft-bristle brush.

2. Lay a towel along the window sill to catch drips.

3. Wet (don’t soak) a sponge in your solution and rub down the glass (keep the solution away from the window frames to avoid damage). The pattern here matters less because the solution is going to be wiped up in a particular way.

4. You can use a lint-free cloth to wipe the glass, but you’re basically just moving the dirt around so it’s best to use a squeegee. Wet the blade first and draw the squeegee from top to bottom in even lines, slightly overlapping the previous stroke as you move across the window. After each stroke, wipe the squeegee blade before continuing.

5. To finish, wipe down the window frames with a damp cloth (use water and an all-purpose cleaner) and then be sure to wipe them dry.

Pro tip: clean windows on a cloudy day because the sun can heat up windows causing your solution to dry and leave streaks and water spots before you can wipe it clean.