Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cleaning 100+ Year Old Windows

I have a tough time cleaning my windows.  When I bring up this subject with friends and relatives, they just look at me.  Perplexed.  Why doesn't she just use windex like the rest of us?, their expressions say. 

Because they don't have windows that are 120 years old! 

When we bought this house, we were just young pups.  We hired some professionals to paint the exterior -- which included the window frames.  So, they had to take the windows out -- and the workers wondered if I wanted to clean them while they were out.  Sure, I gave them all a once-over with Windex.  (I sometimes have to laugh at my young self.)  That didn't seem to make much of a difference, so I probably tried a couple of other lame things before giving up.  The glass may have looked a tad better, but all of them still had build-up.

Fast forward (an unbelievable!) 26 years.  My windows look absolutely horrific.  (The photo above is the view out of several of the windows).  But thanks to the internet, I know why and I know what to do about it.  Knowing that taking windows off of the second story of our house is not going to be easy, I confess I have put this off.  But, as I have mentioned, I am in the process of painting the first story exterior -- so the time has come to face this monster.

Why do I have cloudy windows that would make a Windex salesperson weep?  I mentioned before, that our house was either vacant, or neglected much of it's 120 years.  Not a lot of exterior window cleaning being done during those stretches.  Every time it rained, the water left behind mineral build-up.  Multiply that by decades.  That (and dirt) is why I have hazy windows.  And let me tell you, windex doesn't touch it.

So, today I tried cleaning on a couple of storm windows (they aren't 120 years old, but they weren't close to new back in 1988 either).  I would have loved to have gone a completely "green" route.  So I tried two coats of straight white vinegar.  Leaving the vinegar on for awhile before squeegeeing (is this a word?)  Really, it made no difference.

I had to resort to the CLR (Calcium  Lime Rust Remover).  I don't even want to know that it has in it, but it did the trick.  I still had to treat each side with two applications, and then hit a couple of tough spots one last time -- but I ended up with sparkly storm windows.  So now I am taking my show on the road (or on to the porch roof), and trying it on some of the old wavy 120 year-old glass windows.  I personally do not have the technology to take out these windows, so they will have to be cleaned "on site."

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