Q: I clean my apartment windows every week, but I can’t clean the outside. If I lift the window and reach around outside, I can just get the bottom part of the window. We’re in an upstairs unit, so I can’t reach them from outside. Any solutions? – Frustrated in Wisconsin
A: It sounds like you have single-hung windows, which have a bottom sash that can be lifted up, while the top window is sealed into the frame. Double-hung windows can be opened at either the top or bottom.
Single-hung windows are designed so that the bottom sash can be removed for cleaning or replacement. How they’re removed varies slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but there are a couple of methods that are pretty much the same.
The simplest type to remove, in my opinion, is a sash that has slide-backs along the top so you can easily pull in its top retainer clips and lever the top of the sash out of the frame toward you. From there it can be disengaged from the slider connections at the bottom and maneuvered out of the frame. Or, if you’re just going to clean the outside, you can lever it out until it lies flat, clean it and put it back into place.
The other common type is a sash held in place by removable hardware, like sash stops at the top of the track. After removing or shifting retaining clips, the sash is lifted past its normal opening point and away from its bottom balancers or guides, and then levered out from one side and then the other.
Confused? Do an Internet search for videos of single-hung window sash removal until you come across one similar to yours.
With the bottom sash out of the way, you can much more easily reach the outside top of the window to clean it. Doing this weekly may not be fun – lifting the sash out of some windows can be somewhat frustrating, and there’s always a risk of damaging the hardware, like the balancers or sash stops. So clean the outside windows only a couple of times a year, or when they are noticeably dirty.
What’s the best way to quickly clean windows, especially the grimier outside? Add a little bit of dishwashing liquid to a lot of warm water, and use a big sponge to apply the suds. This loosens dirt much better than ammonia cleaner and paper towels. Swipe away the suds with a window squeegee (available at home-improvement stores or in many home-goods stores), cleaning the blade after each swipe, and wipe the corners of the window with a lint-free rag.
HOME TIP: Streaky window glass? Dampen the panes with cleaning spray or slightly soapy water, then dry with old newspapers.
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