A historic building can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a time-consuming task. If you are responsible for an antique home or business, you’ll need to keep the windows clean. If the home has already been restored, then you just need to maintain them. If the home hasn’t been restored, you’ll likely need some deeper cleaning options. To clean antique windows, you need to make sure you don’t damage the window. That’s the first goal.
Dirt, oil, and general grime build up over time on your windows. Sometimes, all of those years of accumulated grime will require some pretty strong chemicals to remove. However, you should never start with the strongest chemicals. Always start light and work your way up. So, first, you should use some wadded up newspaper or a soft rag made specifically for cleaning windows. Spray clean water on the window and attempt to wipe off the grime. Loose dust and dirt will likely be removed by simple water. After you’ve done that, you can move to something stronger.
Mix a few drops of dish soap into the water. The dish soap should cut through most oils and grease. However, if the oil and grease is old, it might not be moved by dish soap. After that, you can move to diluted ammonia. Ammonia is the primary ingredient in many traditional window cleaners you might buy in a store. You can often dilute those store-bought cleaners 50/50 with water.
If none of that works to clean your windows, you’ll need to break out the stronger stuff. Cleaners with oxalic acid are often in powder form; they can scrub away grime but they won’t scratch the glass.
You should be particularly careful about using stronger chemicals if you have stained glass windows. Stained glass can either be painted glass or colored glass. If the glass is colored, you likely won’t damage it by using mild chemicals. If it’s painted, the cleaning process could damage the paint. If you have stained glass, it’s probably best just to call a professional. In fact, if your windows are old and fragile, calling a restorer might be your best option.
Professionals will have specific tools and chemicals that will clean stained glass or antique glass without damaging the glass. They’ll also be able to clean the window frames. You shouldn’t neglect the frames when cleaning the windows. Depending on what they’re made from, you might need separate chemicals entirely.