Why do Newspaper Clean Windows So Well? A Clever Life Hack Using Yesterday’s News

why does newspaper clean windows so well

Last Updated on October 2, 2023

The newspaper has long been known to be an excellent window cleaner. But why is that? After all, it’s not exactly the most modern or high-tech cleaning solution.

The answer is simple, the newspaper provides a unique combination of features that make it well-suited to the task.

Newspapers effectively clean windows due to their lint-free nature, absorbency, and soy-based ink. The cellulose fibers resist tearing when damp, ensuring no streaks on glass. The ink grinds away dirt without smearing, and the paper’s texture traps dirt particles. Combined with vinegar, newspapers offer an eco-friendly, streak-free shine to windows.

Even though a squeegee may be a better option in some cases, the newspaper is more effective than paper towels and cloth as it can absorb more liquid without leaving fuzz behind.

This ever-reliable trick of our grandmas, and still as effective today, make an easy, effective way to remove dirt and grime while restoring clarity and shine to glass surfaces. Getting perfect panes while going green is the best.

With a little water and a good crumpled-up piece of newspaper, you can shine up those streaky windows in no time. Let’s learn more about the newspaper cleaning method and how best to use it.

Why is Newspaper an Ideal Tool for Cleaning Windows? The Science Behind the Tricks

Why is Newspaper an Ideal Tool for Cleaning Windows? The Science Behind the Tricks

Ever wonder why newspapers clean windows so well? Well, the answer lies in the science behind the material. 

Let’s explore the properties of newspapers that make them such an effective cleaning tool.

Strength and Rigidity of Cellulose Fibers

The cellulose fibers used to make newsprint are exceptionally strong and rigid, making them perfect for cleaning windows without the risk of causing scratches or damage. Cellulose is a biopolymer made up of glucose monomers that link together to form long fibers that can withstand extreme force and pressure without breaking.

This makes them ideal for paper production as they provide a sturdy yet flexible surface that can be wiped effectively. The cellulose fibers’ strength and rigidity also help them resist tearing when damp so that they won’t leave behind any unsightly streaks or marks on glass surfaces. 

It minimizes lint or dust left behind on windows. Lint can be difficult to remove and time-consuming. 

This makes the newspaper a great choice for quickly and effectively cleaning windows without having to worry about leaving behind any unwanted residue.

No Scratching Materials in Construction

Unlike other materials, newspapers have no scratching materials in their construction, which makes them safe to use on windows. Newsprint does not contain common scraping materials like silica or calcium carbonate, so rubbing down windows with it will leave fewer marks.

This is especially important when dealing with delicate surfaces, which require special attention when cleaning, as these materials may cause permanent damage if not handled properly. And because they are firm, they allow users to wipe down windows while ensuring no damage or unwanted marks are left behind.

Absorbency of Paper

Newspapers are composed of paper fibers arranged in an optimal web-like structure that allows for the absorbency of water or other liquids, as well as dirt or grease.

This gives the paper a unique ability to soak up liquid from windows easily, allowing for fewer streaks and smudges in the cleaning process. The material’s structure also offers a degree of scratch resistance, ensuring that regardless of how vigorously you scrub with the paper, you won’t risk damaging the glass surface. 

The Texture of Newspaper

On a scientific level, how does paper effectively break down dirt? It all starts with the physical structure of the newspaper.

Paper is made up of fibers derived from plants that are woven together, making each sheet highly porous with thousands of tiny holes. These tiny holes make it easy for moisture to pass through the paper, this is why newspapers are effective at trapping and holding dirt particles.

These tiny pores also act as a cleaning agent when wiped over a dirty surface. When pressure is applied on one side of the paper, the individual fibers flex and bend, pushing particles away from the clean surface in a process called “shearing.”

This helps remove dirt particles from any flat surface without having to scrub or apply additional force. A Paper’s ability to absorb moisture also plays an essential role in its effectiveness as a cleaning tool.

Moisture helps break down grease and other particles that are stuck stubbornly onto glass surfaces by dissolving them so they can be removed more easily with gentle wiping motions. This means newspaper works best when dampened with water before starting your window cleaning project.

Ink is Soy-Based, Rather than Petroleum Based

Modern newspapers are printed using soybean-based ink rather than petroleum-based ink like those used for magazines or other print media products. Also, soy-based ink won’t separate under water pressure and stick to glass like other inks, such as those made from petroleum.

Window scrubbers don’t need to worry about their efforts being wasted by ink smears. Also, this ink is made from natural elements such as vegetable oil and soybeans.

As a result, it is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it less toxic than traditional inks used for prints. It ensures your family’s health remains unaffected by any hazardous fumes created during an indoor cleaning job.

Reduce Static Electricity on Window Frames

Not only does newspaper wicking away moisture off windows help prevent streaks, but its properties also help to reduce static electricity on your window frames, which reduces dust buildup.

Additionally, when combined with a cleaning solution like vinegar or rubbing alcohol, the newspaper can help restore clarity to cloudy windows by removing any residue left by the previous cleaner. 

Non-abrasive Surface

Finally, newsprint is suitable for cleaning windows because of its non-abrasive surface. Newsprint offers milder yet equally effective results on all types of windows with minimal effort than many of the stronger abrasive cleaners available, such as those designed specifically to remove paint or graffiti.

The soft texture of newspaper prevents any irritation of the hands during cleaning, unlike some chemical cleaners that may cause skin sensitivities if used for prolonged periods of time.

What is the Best Way to Clean Windows with Newspaper? Basic Steps

What is the Best Way to Clean Windows with Newspaper? Basic Steps

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Before you begin, ensure you have everything you need to get the job done. The most important materials are a bucket of warm water, liquid dish soap or another gentle cleaner, a few rags or sponges (lint-free), and several sheets of newspaper.

It is best to opt for plain black and white newsprint since color sections could bleed onto the glass while wiping. You may also want to use a squeegee for easier application of the cleaning solution and better results. 

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Fill your bucket with warm water and add a few drops of mild liquid dish soap to create a soapy mixture that will help loosen dirt and grime. Make sure to stir the mixture until it is well combined.

You may add distilled vinegar to your mixture as well, as this will help to cut through dirt and grease more effectively. The ideal vinegar-water ratio is 50/50. 

Combining white vinegar and newspaper is one of the most effective methods for cleaning glass. Not only does vinegar’s acidic nature break down grease or oil, but it also dries without leaving any residue.

Meanwhile, newspaper is an ideal material due to its densely packed fibers which prevent scratching or marking the glass. These fibers don’t separate like other materials, meaning lint won’t be left behind when cleaning.

By using both products together, you can be sure your glass will come out bright and streak-free! Regular use of this combination can help extend the life of your windows by preventing the buildup of dirt and debris.

Step 3: Test the Solution on a Small Area First

Before you apply your soapy solution to your entire window surface, test it on a small spot to ensure that it won’t leave any marks or streaks behind once it dries. This step is especially important if you use an unconventional cleaning method such as newspaper instead of traditional glass cleaner or microfiber cloths. 

Step 4: Spray and Wipe

Crumple up a few sheets of newspaper with your hands

Once you’ve tested the solution on a small area, you can now spray your window with the soapy mixture. Crumple up a few sheets of newspaper with your hands and gently dab the paper onto the glass.

Scrub lightly in a gentle circular motion

Slowly work your way from left to right, top to bottom, and scrub lightly in a gentle circular motion making sure that you cover the entire surface area until all grime has been removed from that particular pane.

Moving systematically across panes ensures complete coverage with no missed spots while scrubbing lightly prevents potential scratching. To ensure that no streaks are left behind, use a dry piece of the newspaper after every wipe-down.

The fibers in the paper will help absorb any leftover moisture, which could lead to streaks if left on the glass for too long.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

After you’ve thoroughly wiped down your window with the newspaper, rinse it off with a damp cloth or sponge and then dry it with another piece of clean paper towel. If you find that there are still some marks or streaks remaining after rinsing, you can use a squeegee to scrape them away.

Once the entire window has been wiped down and dried, enjoy your streak-free view!

Tips and Tricks On Cleaning Windows With Newspaper

Using newspaper to clean your windows is a great way to get them sparkling clean without buying expensive window cleaners. However, there are a few things you should be aware of before diving in. 

  • First of all, remember that if you have tinted windows, don’t attempt this method; the newspaper could damage them instead. 
  • When using newspaper on your windows, it’s best to wear rubber gloves as wet ink can get messy and cause staining on your hands. Moreover, the texture of newspaper can be quite abrasive, and wearing gloves will protect your skin from any potential scratches or cuts.
  • Also, when cleaning windows with newspaper, it’s important to make sure you’re using distilled white vinegar and not a stronger or harsher chemical like bleach.
  • Ensure that you wring out your newspaper sheets as much as possible before use. The drier they are, the less risk there is of causing smearing and streaks.
  • Try to stick with black and white sections of the newspaper to avoid any potential color bleeds onto the glass. This is because some of the dyes used in printing newspapers can be quite strong and may cause discoloration on your windows if they are left on for too long.
  • It’s also wise to avoid wiping down window frames while cleaning, as ink can stain wood or other surfaces. 
  • The key is to be patient and wait for the glass to dry before you start polishing or drying it with the newspaper. Doing so manages to get rid of streaks and polish quickly and effectively.

Pros of Using Newspaper as Window Cleaner

Cost Effective

Newspaper is an affordable and readily available material, making it a great option for window cleaning. The cost of a newspaper is much lower than that of clothes or wipes, which can add up over time when used frequently. 

Furthermore, newspapers can be recycled and reused multiple times before needing to be replaced, thus saving money in the long run. 


Unlike many window cleaning solutions that contain harsh chemicals like ammonia, the newspaper is all-natural. This makes it a safe choice for households with small children or pets who might otherwise come into contact with dangerous substances. 

Streak-Free Shine

Today, there are a lot of better and more effective means of cleaning windows, but the newspaper still reigns supreme. This classic and reliable method is still one of the best options for getting streak-free shine. 

The lint-free, absorbent nature of newspapers means you won’t have to worry about unwanted residue or streaks like cloths or wipes often do. 

Environmentally Friendly

They’re non-toxic and won’t contain any harsh chemicals or solvents that could be potentially hazardous to your health or environment if inhaled or ingested in any way. Which makes them perfect for households with children or pets around. 

Natural products, such as newspapers, also prevent chemicals from polluting our waterways and wildlife habitats from runoff from traditional window cleaning agents.

Since it’s made from natural plant materials, it biodegrades quickly compared to synthetic materials like plastic sponges or towels, which take centuries to decompose. Using recycled newspapers reduces the amount of waste generated from window cleaning sessions, making it an ideal choice for anyone who wants to keep their windows clean in an eco-friendly way.

Lightweight and Easy to Use

Newspaper is lightweight yet strong enough to clean hard-to-reach areas, a boon for those tall panes of glass or multi-story buildings. Plus, due to their absorbent properties, newspapers soak up dirt and grime better than cloths and towels, leaving you with sparklingly clean panes of beauty each time.

Simply crumple up a page of newsprint and wipe it across your windows in circular motions until dry for a streak-free shine. It also requires less elbow grease than other methods since there’s no need to scrub at stubborn spots with extra force, just some gentle pressure will do the job.

Cons of Using Newspaper as Window Cleaner 

Cannot Disinfect Surfaces

It is not possible to disinfect surfaces like glass using newspaper alone; bacteria and viruses can still remain on the surface after cleaning with newsprint. It is, therefore, important to pair newspaper with an antibacterial glass cleaner.

Prone to Falling Apart

If dampened or crumpled up during use, newspapers are prone to falling apart quickly. The shedding paper fragments can create an additional mess after a window cleaning session.

Additionally, wet newspapers become heavy very quickly, so they can be hard on your arms if you use them frequently. It is better to use newspaper as a part of your window cleaning routine from time to time rather than relying on it alone as your primary method for cleaning.

This way, you can get all the benefits without having to deal with some of the drawbacks that come with using paper! 

May Cause Ink Smudging On Windows

Although most modern newspapers tend to have non-smudging ink formulas printed onto their pages nowadays, some older publications may still cause smudging when dampened. Especially if exposed to direct sunlight, creating yet another problem that needs solving come cleanup time.

Be sure to check whether or not your chosen paper source contains smudge-resistant ink before proceeding with using it as a window cleaner, just in case… better safe than sorry.

May Not Work On Very Dirty Windows

While a newspaper can reduce smudges on already cleaned surfaces over time, it may not be suitable for heavily soiled windows that require more than one application. Because newspaper cannot hold as much liquid as commercial window cleaners, it is limited in their effectiveness against thick layers of built-up dirt accumulated over long periods of time without proper maintenance.

Difficult To Control Messes & Overuse Of Product

Finally, newspapers can be difficult to control because they spread out and fly away easily when dampened. It’s also very easy to overdo it with the amount of product used since the paper is absorbent, meaning you may end up using more than necessary for a single window cleaning session if not careful.

Would Newspaper Work for Cleaning a Mirror?

Mirrors are made of very delicate glass, so it’s important to be extra careful when cleaning them. While newspapers can work well on windows, the same cannot be said for mirrors, as they tend to be more fragile and prone to smudging.

When cleaning a mirror, one should always be as gentle as possible to prevent scratching and smearing. A soft cloth such as an old t-shirt should be used to gently dab the cleaner on the surface of the mirror instead of rubbing or scrubbing.

This will help reduce smearing and keep the finish looking its finest for longer. Choose a glass cleaner without abrasives to avoid damaging the glass’ surface over time.

Ammonia or Vinegar Solution: Which is Better for Cleaning Windows With Newspaper?

Trying to get your windows squeaky clean can be a challenge, so it’s no surprise that there are a few different opinions on what the best cleaning solution is used in combination with the newspaper. While some prefer using ammonia for a maximum streak-free shine, others swear by vinegar for its natural ingredients and affordability.

It’s important to determine which one will do the best job for your windows since you want them to look their absolute best in the end. Ammonia is generally more effective for removing dirt and grime, while vinegar is more effective for eliminating streaks and smudges.

However, due to its high alkalinity, ammonia can sometimes damage certain types of window coatings or sealants. Vinegar is much less caustic and, therefore, less likely to cause any damage; however, it may not be as effective at loosening stubborn dirt and residue. 

When using either product, be sure to mix it with water in the appropriate ratio before applying it to the windows. A good rule of thumb is to use one cup of ammonia or vinegar per gallon of water. This will help ensure that you get the most out of your window cleaning solution while avoiding any potential damage to your windows.

For best results, use newspaper as a secondary cleaning cloth, wiping the windows with a circular motion until they are streak-free and shining. This will allow you to get rid of any lingering streaks or smudges without leaving behind any residue. The newspaper also absorbs extra liquid so that your windows dry quickly without leaving behind any water spots or stains.

What Causes My Windows to Look Smeared After Cleaning?

Window smearing can occur when the window cleaner residue isn’t wiped down or buffed off after cleaning, leaving a thin layer of film on the glass surface. This layer of the film catches dust and dirt particles, making it look dirty and smeared.

To avoid this issue from occurring, clean the windows with products that are not overly soapy or oily, as well as always wipe them down afterward to remove any streaks or residue. If you find smears on your windows, try using a dry cloth or newspaper to buff them until they are clear and streak-free again.

Also, choose a cool time of the day when the sun is not at its strongest to clean your windows, as this will help prevent the cleaner from drying too quickly and leaving behind streaks.

Brighten Your Windows with Yesterday’s News

No need to break the bank, the newspaper is here for all your window cleaning needs. Get those glass surfaces sparkling in no time with nothing more than some good old-fashioned crumpled newspapers and a spray of cleaner.

Not only is it cost-effective, but eco-friendly too; its gentle nature won’t damage even the most delicate windows. Just be careful and don’t let any of that ink transfer onto frames, if you handle it with care, this little trick won’t cost a penny.

So don’t wait, let’s use yesterday’s headlines to brighten today by giving your panes that amazing shine they deserve!

Why do Newspaper Clean Windows So Well? A Clever Life Hack Using Yesterday’s News

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