How to Clean Oxidized Windows Safely and Make Them Shine Again?

how to clean oxidized windows

Last Updated on October 2, 2023

Do the windows in your house look like they have been painted with layers of dirt? Does it seem like no amount of scrubbing and wiping can make them clean again?

If so, it could be a common problem known as “screen burn ” or salt deposits. The accumulation of corrosion on aluminum window screens or frames, or the salty wind and rain, blowing off the ocean, creates a layer of oxidation on your windows.

But don’t worry, there are ways to remove this stubborn oxidation without damaging the glass or the screen. Let’s talk in detail about how to clean oxidized windows safely and effectively, including which cleaning methods work for which kinds of corrosion.

Like, there’s a recipe for using TSP (trisodium phosphate) and vinegar to clean glass and a way to use superfine steel wool that doesn’t scratch glass. Let’s get that sparkle back in no time.

Types of Oxidation on Windows

Types of Oxidation on Windows

To begin, it’s essential to understand why oxidation occurs in the first place. Oxidation is caused when alkalis (like those found in detergents) interact with the silica network on glass surfaces, resulting in a porous surface that reduces clarity and shine.

Acid corrosion can cause the glass to corrode more quickly, while water corrosion often progresses slower. Understanding this process will help you select the correct products for cleaning your windows.

The best way to clean oxidized windows is with an appropriate cleaning solution designed specifically for removing oxidation from window surfaces. Several commercial brands offer specialized products that work well for this purpose.

Many of them come with detailed instructions for the application so that you can achieve optimal results without damaging your window frames or panes. If you don’t want to purchase a specialized oxidization cleaner, make one yourself using vinegar or lemon juice mixed with baking soda, etc.

Let’s discuss the different types of oxidation that can occur on windows. This will help you choose the best cleaning method for your window’s corrosion problem.

Screen burn: This is a common problem caused by accumulated corrosion on aluminum window screens. It can be identified as a hazy white or grayish color on the glass.

Salt-Related Corrosion:  If you live near the ocean or have high humidity in your area, salt can accumulate on the window glass and cause a chalky residue. It accumulates in the tiny crevices and edges of window frames and screens, causing them to corrode over time. Salt deposits can also form on the glass if exposed to salty air or water, leading to a hazy appearance.

Hard Water Stains: These are caused by mineral deposits left behind when hard water evaporates from windows. They appear as white or grayish-white deposits and can be difficult to remove.

Acidic Corrosion: Acidic cleaners are often used for window cleaning and can cause acidic corrosion if not thoroughly rinsed away. This type of corrosion appears as a yellowish, brown, or orange color on the glass and is difficult to remove without damaging the glass.

Algae, Mold, and Mildew: These organisms can lead to yellowing or discoloration of window frames and screens if left untreated for too long. To remove these, you will need to use a cleaner specifically designed to remove organic growth.

Cleaning Methods for Different Types of Oxidation: Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning Methods for Different Types of Oxidation: Step-by-Step Guide

Prepare the Area 

Preparing an area for cleaning oxidized windows is an important step and should not be overlooked. Before beginning to clean, it is essential to make sure that any obstacles, such as furniture or curtains, are moved away from the window so that they do not get wet or damaged during the process.

Additionally, it is recommended to test a small area first before using any products on the windows to ensure that they do not cause further damage or discoloration. If there are no issues with the test patch, then it is safe to begin cleaning. 

Using Mild Soap and Lukewarm Water 

When beginning the process of cleaning oxidized windows, it is important to gather all of the necessary supplies beforehand. This includes a gentle, non-abrasive soap such as dish soap, a soft sponge or cloth for scrubbing, and superfine steel wool if needed for stubborn spots.

Abrasive cleansers such as bleach should be avoided as they can potentially damage the glass further. 

Supplies Needed

  • Superfine Steel Wool Grade 0000
  • Soft Sponge or Cloth
  • Gentle, Non-Abrasive Soap
  • Bucket of Luke-warm Water

Once you have gathered all your supplies, mix one teaspoon of mild soap with two cups of warm water to create a soapy solution in a bowl or bucket.

To remove corrosion buildup from the window screen, use a mild soap and lukewarm water solution to wipe it away gently. Using vinegar or lemon juice is also possible, but rinse it off well afterward.

Then, to remove corrosion on the glass itself, dip either your sponge or cloth into the solution and thoroughly scrub every window pane making sure to get into each corner or cranny where oxidation has built up.

If needed, use the superfine steel wool(after testing a small section first) for tougher areas that do not come off with just soap and water, but it should still be done only with very gentle pressure so as not to cause any further damage. 

Be sure to rinse off any excess residue after scrubbing before moving on to any other steps in the cleaning process. 

After scrubbing each window pane, it is important to leave some of the soapy solutions on it to act as a lubricant when rubbing off any oxidation that may remain. To do this, take an absorbent cloth such as an old t-shirt or rag and dip it into your soapy solution before wringing it out until damp but not wet (it should still be slightly soapy).

Then use this cloth to gently rub any remaining oxidation off using circular motions until everything has been removed from each window pane’s surface. 

Finally, rinse off all residue with clean water before drying your windows with either another dry cloth or paper towel (avoid leaving wet streaks behind).

Once fully dried, inspect every window pane for oxidation build-up before considering them fully cleaned.

Clean the frames, sidings, and trims separately using a soft cloth and the same mild soap and lukewarm water solution. To remove any mold or mildew, use an anti-mold cleaner to fully eliminate them from the window frames and sidings before reassembling everything once fully dried. 

Try TSP and Vinegar Solution

Another option is using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and vinegar, which contains acetic acid and effectively dissolves oxidation and hard water stains from windows without causing damage or scratching them up too much.

Prepare the DIY Cleaner and Gather the Supplies 

  1. Gather a gallon of water, 2 tablespoons TSP (Trisodium Phosphate), ½ cup vinegar, and one drop of liquid soap (kitchen dish soap will do)  
  2. Attach the soft brush to a broom handle or painter’s extension handle for easier access from the ground level. 

Wetting the Windows

  1. Pre-wet windows in one area with a hose before applying home brew mixture with a brush 
  2. Work on as many windows as possible on one wall before moving on to the next wall, keeping the windows wet during the process. 

Cleaning the Oxidized Buildup with the Cleaner Solution

  1. Mix together your TSP (Trisodium Phosphate), vinegar, water, and liquid soap into a bucket until fully dissolved, then pour it into another bucket filled with cold water for dilution depending on the desired strength of the cleaner solution.
  2. Remember that highly concentrated solution may damage surfaces if left on too long, so dilute accordingly.
  3. Next, apply this cleaner solution over all windows using the soft brush attached to the extension handle. Lightly scrubbing away dirt and grime while gently removing oxidized buildup from glass surface areas as you go along.
  4. Do not use too much force as this could cause scraping damage instead of simply dissolving dirt particles away like intended.
  5. Now reapply this same solution over each window again, but focus on washing around surrounding trim areas more thoroughly than the glass surfaces themselves. Allowing the cleaner to sit and work on any stubborn spots if needed before rinsing off all residues with a hose afterward. 

Final Steps for Streak-free Result

  1. Rinse windows thoroughly with clean water after scrubbing them down.   
  2. Use a squeegee for a streak-free finish afterward.  
  3. Wash windowsills/trim using warm soapy water and a rag for complete cleanliness. 
  4. Regular maintenance is key for preventing oxidation from returning; a monthly wash should suffice.  
  5. If using indoors, open the window or use a fan to blow out excess moisture after rinsing off windows  
  6. Use the same techniques for cleaning glass doors or shower doors as well. 
  7. For maximum protection, apply car wax after washing for extra shine and durability against future oxidation buildups.  
  8. Finally, inspect all surfaces once dried up afterward, checking if streaks remain or whether they have been entirely removed.

Baking Soda Solution

A third option is using a solution of baking soda and water which uses the natural abrasive properties of the powder to help dissolve away oxidation without causing scratches or damage. Use an abrasive cleaner to remove hard water stains.

Mix equal parts of baking soda and white vinegar and apply the mixture to the affected area. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before wiping it away with a soft cloth.

Lemon Juice Solution

To remove acidic corrosion types from your windows, you will need to use a solution of lemon juice and salt. Mix one cup of lemon juice and two tablespoons of salt and apply them to the affected area.

Allow it to sit for five minutes before wiping it off. Reapply this solution as needed until you have achieved the desired results.

Finally, rinse off all remaining residue from windows using a hose or clean water afterward for a complete finish.

Using Bleach

To remove these organic growths like algae, mold, and mildew, it is necessary to use a bleach solution. Mix one part bleach and 10 parts water, then apply it to the affected area using a sponge or soft brush.

Allow it to sit for some time before wiping it away with a soft clot. Until you achieve the desired results, reapply as necessary.

For a complete finish, rinse all remaining residue from windows with a hose or clean water afterward.

Using a Stain Remover

If the oxidation on your windows is particularly stubborn, it may require a specialized commercial cleaner or stain remover to remove it effectively. Always read the instructions and warnings before using these products, as some may contain harsh chemicals and can be dangerous if not used properly. 

Gather the necessary materials, including the stain remover, safety gloves, and a soft cloth for cleaning. Make sure to test it on a tiny spot first before applying it over the entire window surface.

Once ready, apply the stain remover over all windows using either a spray bottle or damp cloth and let sit for a few minutes before wiping away with a soft cloth.

Afterward, rinse all residues with a hose, and then let the windows air dry.

Commercial Cleaner Products

Commercial window cleaning products are available at most home improvement stores and can aid in the removal of oxidation. These specialized cleaners typically contain a combination of acids and surfactants that help break down the stubborn oxidation buildup on your windows.

Restoro, Water Stain Remover, Crystal Clear 550, etc. are some of the products that can be used. Restoro is a professional-grade cleaning solution that removes oxidation and hard water stains from windows. It’s formulated with special acids and surfactants that break down oxidized surfaces and dissolve away stubborn buildups without scratching or causing damage.

Water Stain Remover is a specialized cleaning product that helps remove hard water stains and mineral deposits from windows. It’s formulated with special acids and surfactants to dissolve away buildup without scratching or causing damage.

Crystal Clear 550 is a powerful window cleaner that removes streaks, smudges, dirt, and other grime from windows. It’s formulated with special surfactants and cleaning agents to remove stubborn buildup without scratching or causing damage.

It can also be used on glass, chrome, and other surfaces to keep them looking clean and streak-free. Always read the instructions carefully before using these products, as some may contain harsh chemicals and can be harmful if misused.

And there you have it, your windows should be free from oxidation and dirt, making them look better than ever. Remember to perform regular maintenance to keep surfaces clean and oxidation-free for years to come.

Which Method Would be Right for You, and How Would You Maintain It?

It is important to assess the severity of the deposits on your windows before choosing an appropriate solution. If the deposits are minor and do not cause any major visibility issues, then a basic and natural cleaning solution may be sufficient.

However, if they are more extensive, you may need to use a stronger chemical or abrasive cleaner. In that case, make sure to exercise caution and test a small area first, about the size of an inch in diameter, to avoid any potential scratches on the surface of your glass.

Afterward, pay close attention when the sun is shining on it, this is when scratches would be most visible.

It is also important to consider the type of oxidation present before selecting your cleaning solution. For instance, acidic corrosion should be treated differently than organic growths such as algae, mold, or mildew. Aluminum window frames, on the other hand, may require a more specialized cleaner as their surface is often more porous than glass.

If your screen is ruining the look of your windows, you can use a window film or tint to cover it up. Window films are available in various shades and textures to ensure that your windows appear aesthetically pleasing no matter the condition of the glass underneath. Also, using a non-oxidizing mesh will prevent screen mesh from oxidizing.

In some cases, cleaning your windows isn’t enough to restore their clarity and shine; if they’re heavily oxidized, they may require additional maintenance, such as polishing or buffing after they’ve dried. Polishing compounds are available commercially, which can be used with lint-free cloths; alternatively, you can use car wax if you don’t have access to commercial polish solutions.

Be sure not to use too much pressure while polishing, as this may cause damage. Buffing your window frames can also help bring back their original glossy finish but should only be done on extremely badly oxidized frames as they tend to scratch easily due to their abrasive nature. A milder option would be using specially formulated window waxes, which provide better protection against future oxidation without leaving behind scratches as buffing does.

Ultimately, choosing the right cleaning solution for your windows depends on several factors, such as severity, type of deposits, and desired outcome. If you’ve done your due diligence with these steps and nothing has helped you remove these deposits, then replacement is sadly your last resort.

How do You Remove Oxidation from Vinyl Window Frames?

How do You Remove Oxidation from Vinyl Window Frames?

Removing oxidation from vinyl window frames can be a bit tricky, but it is definitely doable. In order to get rid of the oxidation, you need to use some kind of cleaner or chemical solution specifically designed to remove oxidation from vinyl surfaces. You should also ensure that the cleaner you are using is safe for vinyl window frames and won’t damage them in any way.

The first thing you want to do is to identify how bad oxidation is. If there are only small patches or spots, then a mild solution like a vinegar-based cleaner may be sufficient.

However, if the oxidation covers a large area, then you may need something stronger, like an oxalic acid-based cleanser. Make sure to read and follow all of the instructions on the product packaging thoroughly before use.

After identifying which type of cleaning solution you need, start by washing the frame with mild soap and water using a soft cloth before applying your chosen cleaner. This will ensure that any dirt and debris are removed from the surface before applying your chosen cleaner and will help ensure better results.

Once done, spray your chosen cleaner onto the frame and let it sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing lightly with a nylon brush to remove as much oxidation as possible. Finally, rinse off with clean water and wipe down with a dry cloth until all residue has been removed from the frame.

By following these steps carefully, you should be able to get rid of any oxidation on your vinyl window frames without damaging them in any way.

How Do You Remove Aluminum Stains from Glass?

Removing aluminum stains from glass is a tricky process, as you want to make sure that the glass doesn’t get damaged in the process. For best results, start off by creating a paste with vinegar and baking soda.

The ratio should be two parts baking soda and one part vinegar. Spread this paste over the stained area, then use a damp cloth to rub it into the stain.

Leave it on for 15 minutes or so before rinsing it off with warm water. You may need to repeat this process several times before the stain is gone entirely. But, if you find that it isn’t removing all of the stains, you can try scrubbing away at it with fine steel wool or baking soda and a wet sponge. Be careful when using any abrasive cleaning material like steel wool or sandpaper, as these can scratch your glass surface.

Breathe New Life into Your Oxidized Windows

Oxidized windows can be a huge hassle, no one wants to tackle stubborn buildup or risk their windows getting scratched. With a few helpful cleaning solutions and some elbow grease, there are always ways for you to tackle stubborn oxidation safely.

Clean, mild cases using vinegar-based cleaners or tackle more serious deposits with abrasive buffing. Be sure to consider the severity of the oxidation and what type of window frames you have before selecting a cleaner or chemical solution to use.

Always read and follow all instructions on the product packaging carefully before use. For any job too difficult for DIY solutions, don’t hesitate to consult the pros; they have all the right tools at hand.

With the right approach, you can have your windows looking as good as new in no time.

How to Clean Oxidized Windows Safely and Make Them Shine Again?

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