PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's something we all hate to do but have no choice but to do it - cleaning our windows and glass surfaces. The question is: Do you need to buy a glass cleaner or is a homemade solution just as effective?
Consumer Reports just tried out several different glass cleaners and can tell you which ones work best.
CR applied toothpaste, oily fingerprints, a mixture of margarine and flour, and bright red lipstick to the bathroom mirror and living room windows. Next, they sprayed each one with the different glass cleaners and then counted the number of wipes needed to get rid of the messes.
CR's tests help "clear up" one big misconception: vinegar shouldn't be your go-to for glass. It removed the messes, but it did leave noticeable amounts of streaks behind, so it requires a lot more wiping.
And while ammonia-based cleaners like Windex are known for their cleaning power, the smell isn't so great. Plus, ammonia can leave streaks and film on some types of windows.
But not to worry, CR found that the ammonia-free options cleaned just as well.
The winner was Sprayway Foaming Glass Cleaner. It cut through all of CR's messes, leaving surfaces dry after just a single wipe. Plus, it can also be used as a chrome, tile, and porcelain cleaner, so you get more bang for your buck.
If you're just looking for a dedicated glass cleaner, CR says Invisible Glass is also a great option.
But what about cleaning those hard-to-reach windows or exterior windows? Yes, you can get out the ladder, but Consumer Reports says your safety alone is worth the cost of a telescoping cleaning pole kit, which are available at most home improvement stores.
The telescoping kits typically start around $100.
Regardless of the method you use, CR says you should wash your windows on a cloudy day. Direct sunlight can leave streaks on your windows because the liquid evaporates quickly and leaves residue behind.