By Andy Engstrom

Windows are one of the most valuable pieces of our homes. They can also be one of the most expensive to replace, but with proper care the longevity of your windows can increase dramatically. Here are just a few tips and techniques used by professionals like myself on how to properly care for your windows.

Just Say ‘No’ to Nylon Pads – Abrasive nylon scrubbing pads, like the ones found on many household dish washing sponges, will scratch window glass. Window glass is in fact even softer than the glass manufactured for beverage containers. Specialized nylon, fine grade steel wool and glass scrapers are what professional window cleaners use to remove stickers, decals and other “hard to remove” debris from window glass.

Never Use Blades on Dry Glass – A common (and costly) mistake I often see is window glass scratches caused from the use of razor blades on dry glass. Windows must be lubricated BEFORE attempting to use a razor to scrape debris. Instead use soap and water to lubricate the glass first. This will minimize scratching. But remember not to use razor blades on treated glass surfaces such as tinted windows, mirrored window glass or tempered glass (heat strengthened glass that is common in doors and other high-impact areas).

Use Plastic When Painting – Instead of needlessly using a razor blade to remove dried paint from windows cove your interior and exterior glass in plastic. Paints and stains are corrosive to glass, and if left long enough can cause permanent staining. Also, hard water stains can occur right after your building’s exterior is painted or stained. These stains are caused by rain water running over top a prefabricated surface, leaching hard minerals and acids from that surface and depositing it on windows. This can occur after just one rainfall. Because of this a complete exterior window cleaning is needed. Proper cleaning will neutralize the pH. of the glass and prevent corrosion.

Routine Cleaning is Important – Hard water isn’t the only thing that can permanently stain windows. Staining can also be caused by: acid rain, salt water spray, oxidation, airborne pollutants, over spray, rust and calcium salts. Window glass is porous. Think of its surface as having “peaks and valleys.” These “valleys” capture and trap airborne debris that diminishes glass integrity. To protect your glass I recommend no less than two window cleanings per year.

Don’t Clean with a Garden Hose – This technique may remove some dirt and grime from exterior windows, but in the end it will cause more harm than good. Using a hose allows tap water to dry and remain on your glass, and in time minerals in the water will degrade your windows’ transparent look.

• Andy Engstrom is owner of Capital City Windows in Juneau, Alaska. You can learn more about window and glass care at his website