The heavy smoke has cleared but ash may still be lingering on windows and sills. Before you go outside to tackle this gritty dirt, grab a steel wool pad, says Kevin Lambert of FISH Window Cleaning in Portland.
His busy ash elimination crew uses fine steel wool (0000) to aggressively scrub glass without scratching it. (Don’t use steel wool or any abrasive if there is a protective or decorative film on the window, he says).
Here are the steps to conquer dirt and ash on window frames and panes:
Consumer Reports’ “How to Clean Practically Anything” publication recommends washing windows on a cloudy day or when windows are in shade to prevent streaking caused by direct sun.
First, use a sponge to wash painted or vinyl frames with warm water and detergent. Rinse with warm, clean water and towel dry. With aluminum window frames and doors, vacuum the runners and polish the frames and channels with silicone car polish, which will help windows slide easier in the channels, says Consumer Reports.
To clean window panes, wet them — FISH Window Cleaning crews use a mop — then soap the glass from the top down with a sponge dipped in a bucket of FISH recommended Dawn dish soap and a concentrated cleaner.
Professional window cleaners have been trained in the squeegee swirl technique; they even compete to be the fastest. “It takes about 90 days to master the swirl or what some people call, ‘bringing down the mountain’,” says Lambert.
Rinse with clean water applied with a chamois. Some people prefer to wipe windows with newspaper to avoid streaking.
Finally, remove remaining moisture around the edges with a dry cloth and dry the sill.
To clean window screens, lay them flat on a picnic table or saw horses, and scrub them with a soft bristle brush and a mild detergent solution, says Consumer Reports. Rinse with a garden hose and allow to dry completely.
- Wear a face mask to reduce the risk of inhaling small ash or dirt particles and gloves to protect your skin from irritation, recommends FISH Window Cleaning.
- If you hire someone to clean your windows, insist the worker wears a mask inside your home and have as much air circulating as possible, say public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Do not open a window covered in ash. If the powdery residue enters your home, you will need to remove it. Dust or mop surfaces with a damp cloth to collect settled particles. Use an air purifier or vacuum with HEPA filters. Health experts and others recommend using only HEPA filters, which force air through a fine mesh and trap particles in central heating, ventilation, cooling and air (HVAC) systems. Change or clean filters when dirty. Once a filter is full, it no longer traps particulates.
- Fire ash can also settle in window tracks and when mixed with water can turn into a…