When it comes to cleaning her home, Erin, a contributing editor for Gardenista, likes to take as natural an approach as possible. While she’s been making her own vinegar-based window cleaner for years, she recently discovered the secret ingredient—a pantry staple and an unexpected powerhouse for shine.
Above: A tablespoon of cornstarch is the secret ingredient. Add it to a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar to produce the shiny, streak-free result that is everyone’s goal when it comes to cleaning windows.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 16-oz. bottle, such as the Ultimate Glass Spray Bottle ($8.43 from Olive Cart).
- 1 liquid measuring cup (at least 8 ounces).
- Small sieve; a 6-inch Stainless Steel Mesh Sieve is $19.95 from Sur La Table.
- Small whisk; a Profi Plus Mini Ball Whisk is $20 from Williams-Sonoma.
- 1/2 lemon, juiced.
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
- 1/2 cup white vinegar.
- 1/2 cup water.
- Crumpled newspaper.
To make her glass cleaner, Erin began by juicing half a lemon into a liquid measuring cup. She used a sieve to keep the lemon seeds and pulp out of the cleaner.
Next, she added half a cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Use a small whisk to combine the cornstarch into the vinegar. After she thoroughly mixed the cornstarch, vinegar, and lemon juice, Erin added it to an empty vinegar bottle and poured in another 1/2 cup of tap water. She then took the nozzle from an old Biokleen bottle shehad been saving under the kitchen sink.
To clean the windows, crumple up a bit of newspaper. Soy-based inks won’t rub off onto the window (though you might need to wash your hands afterward), and the newspaper doesn’t leave behind flecks of fiber the way a paper towel or cotton rag might. After giving her bottle one last shake to make sure the cornstarch was thoroughly mixed, Erin sprayed the entire surface of our window and used circular motions to apply the cleaner. Be sure to apply a little elbow grease so the solution wipes away to reveal a (near) spotless window.
In the city and anywhere, dirt builds up on window panes quickly, and washing it away makes an impressive difference.
See more Spring Cleaning tips for indoors and out.
Make yourself a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit.