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If you look in virtually anyone’s cleaning basket across America, you’re likely to find a bottle of Windex. The blue-tinted glass cleaner is about as ubiquitous as any cleaning product on the market since everybody has windows, mirrors and other glass surfaces they want to keep neat.
Windex was created in 1936 — originally as a car windshield cleaner that was sold in metal cans — and in the past 85 years, its loyal users have found many creative uses for it. Here are a few of the most unique uses for Windex for which we found credible evidence.
Cut Through Grease
Windex is brilliant at removing oily fingerprints from your windows and other glass surfaces, so it makes sense that it would be able to cut through grease. One of the most common uses for the product beyond glass cleaning is to wipe away messy surfaces in the kitchen. You can spray it on a cloth or paper towel and wipe down greasy backsplashes, stovetops and range hoods, depending on what they’re made of.
Our research found mixed messaging on whether or not traditional Windex was safe to use on stainless steel, due to its ammonia-based formula, so it’s probably better to be safe than sorry with that surface.
Clean Your Counters
Again, the jury is out on whether or not Windex is safe to use on certain kitchen surfaces, but the glass cleaner can be used to tidy up your countertops in place of another product. Bob Vila, the legendary handyman himself, recommends using Windex on a variety of countertop surfaces, including granite, marble and laminate. Readers Digest cautions against using it on granite, writing that the ammonia in it could dull the surface.
Mop Your Floors
This is another one that is dependent upon the type of surface you’re cleaning, but Windex can be effective at keeping your floors clean, too. It’s not recommended that you use classic Windex on wood floors, again because of the ammonia, but if you have laminate down in your kitchen or bathroom, Windex can do the job of a more expensive chemical. Some articles recommend simply spraying it on your floor and wiping it off with a mop or cloth, while others say you can dilute it with some water and it’ll dry in a hurry.
Move Heavy Appliances
This is definitely one of the most creative uses we found for Windex, but it seems a lot of people swear by it. If you need to slide a heavy appliance out of a tight space in your kitchen or laundry room, you can “grease the wheels” with everyone’s favorite blue liquid. TheKitchn says that liberally spraying some Windex on the floor in front of whatever you’re trying to move will help you easily scoot it around without making scuff marks or breaking your back. Again, because of the ammonia, hardwood floors wouldn’t be ideal for this trick.
Erase Dried-On Marker
Anyone who uses a dry-erase board at home or work knows that marker ink can be downright impossible to get off if it’s left sitting long enough. That’s where Windex can save you a lot of headache. Just grab your bottle, spray it on the board and scrub to get all that caked-on writing off. It might take some elbow grease, but you’ll be glad when you see that whiteboard looking new again.
Clean Your Jewelry
If you’ve got jewelry that’s looking a little dull, you can bring it back to life with some Windex if you don’t feel like springing for special jewelry cleaner. The blue solution shouldn’t be used on precious gemstones like emeralds, pearls or turquoise, but it can be used on gold, silver and even diamonds. The Knot calls an even mixture of Windex and hydrogen peroxide a brilliant cleaning solution for a diamond engagement ring. Just leave the ring in the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes and use a toothbrush to wipe it off before rinsing.
Clean Your Crystal
Crystal is one of those things that can quickly lose its appeal because it often sits on a shelf and collects dust while waiting for a special occasion. In her highly rated book “Home Comforts,” author Cheryl Mendelson urges readers to clean their precious crystal with good old Windex, provided it isn’t painted with any colors. Simply spray the crystal, wipe it down and rinse with some water before drying. This will keep that fancy decanter looking ready for a celebratory drink.
De-Gunk Your Kid’s Toys
Anyone who has kids knows their often grimy fingers can make their favorite toys a sticky mess. As we’ve already noted, Windex is brilliant at cutting through grease and skin oils, making it a great solution for making those messy toys feel new again. You can lightly spray the toys, wipe them down with a cloth, rinse them off with water and leave them to dry. This apparently works especially well on plastic or metal playthings.
Brighten Up The Toilet Bowl
Many people swear by Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner for freshening up their entire bathroom, but the classic formula can be used to whiten up your toilet bowl in a pinch. TheKitchn recommends spraying it liberally around the inside of the bowl and letting it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with your toilet brush. Whatever you do, be sure not to combine original Windex with Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner, as the mixture of an ammonia-based cleaner with a bleach-based cleaner produces dangerous fumes.
Remove Tough Carpet Stains
One of the most popular “bonus” uses for Windex is treating it as a carpet cleaner. The San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate claims the glass cleaner can even remove really tough stains like blood and pet urine. The website recommends making an even mixture of Windex and warm water and blotting the stain while being careful not to scrub it. Check out the full instructions for a handy carpet cleaner that should be able to tackle any messy spot.
Clean Your Car’s Interior
Windex is great for cleaning the interior surfaces of your car because its formula isn’t greasy. Simply spray it on and wipe it off like you were cleaning any other surface and it should have everything feeling and looking good as new. You should probably avoid using it on the exterior of your car, however, as many auto experts warn that Windex’s ammonia base could make it too harsh for delicate paint jobs and window tinting.
Wipe Down Outdoor Furniture
An exciting part of any good spring cleaning routine is getting the outdoor furniture uncovered and ready for the warmer weather. If you don’t cover your patio furniture, there’s a good chance it will be layered in a nice coat of grime from sitting in the elements for several months. A good spray of Windex and a wipe down can have them back to being smooth and fresh — even your aluminum, resin or plastic chairs and tables.
Clean Microfiber Upholstery
Anyone who has a microfiber couch or a set of dining chairs that are covered in that surface knows it can be a real pain to keep clean. Windex has become a miracle-worker for people with microfiber furniture in recent years, in the wake of life hacks becoming popular social media fodder. A YouTube search will reveal plenty of viral videos that show how spraying microfiber with Windex and wiping it down with a brush will remove stains, with many recommending you use the color-free variety just to be safe.
Fix A Stuck Zipper
This is another really unique one that came from Bob Vila. Windex can apparently help you fix a stuck zipper by addressing the problem in two ways. First, the cleaning agent can destroy whatever gunk may be causing the zipper to get stuck and, second, the slickness of the liquid can act as a lubricant to help get it moving again. Just try to avoid getting it on your skin because Windex can really dry your skin out — as you’ll see in another tip later.
Restore Vinyl Siding
If you’ve got vinyl siding on your home, you know it tends to get covered in dirt, grass clippings and other types of outdoor grime. A liberal spraying of some Windex can take care of the problem on a smaller scale than renting a pressure washer would. Simply spray the siding down and wipe it away and you should see a difference while not coating your siding in a sticky residue that would only attract more gross stuff.
Fix a clogged printer cartridge
The experts at Printer Hacks came up with this unique use for your favorite window cleaner. If you’ve got a clogged printer cartridge, you can easily clean it with some Windex to delay the need for buying an expensive new one. Just spray some Windex on a paper towel before wiping the bottom of the cartridge, where the ink comes out, against the wet surface. You should see streaks of ink on the paper towel when the job is done. You can also use a paper towel doused in Windex to clean the printer’s ribbon, according to the website.
Dust Off Protective Book Covers
If you use mylar covers to protect your best books — including the sleeves that hold comics — a little Windex can keep them looking their best. While these covers are great at keeping your book covers in mint condition, they can also attract plenty of dust and oily fingerprints. It’s best to spray the Windex onto a paper towel or other cloth first and then wipe down the mylar cover before letting it dry completely, which shouldn’t take long.
Clean Your Discs
While keeping hard copies of your media seems like a relic from the past, there are plenty of people (present company included) who still love using CDs, DVDs and other discs. A major pain with any disc-based media is the accumulation of fingerprints and other grime that can cause them to stop playing correctly. The media guardians at New Mexico’s Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Public Library recommend using Windex to wipe those smudges away. They say to spray it onto a cloth first and wipe the disc, especially if you have something serious like a soda stain on one of them.
Remove Mop & Glo Stains
Some people live by Mop & Glo but many people who have used it to regularly clean their floors will tell you it leaves an ugly, sticky residue on them. Ammonia is commonly cited as an effective way to wipe this buildup away, but Windex is a much more convenient solution. Since Windex has ammonia among its ingredients, it does the job when you mix it with a little water and use some elbow grease to wipe the old Mop & Glo off your floors.
Loosen Old Wallpaper
The ammonia in Windex also makes it a magical tool for getting rid of old wallpaper. There are tutorials across the internet that will show you how to use Windex to get rid of wallpaper, but this one from the blog Happily Ever After Etc is one of the best. Betsy, the writer, shows how you can tackle this daunting job simply by liberally spraying some Windex and using a scraper to reveal the clean wall hiding underneath. No need to invest in a garment steamer!
Loosen A Tight Ring
You know those old wives’ tales that always sound as dangerous as they do ingenious? We’re going to get into a few of those that involve Windex and have been praised by reliable sources. First is that you can use Windex to easily slide a tight ring off your finger. This one apparently is used by medical professionals in some emergency room settings, as writer Buzz Bishop once found out the hard way. In addition to lubricating the finger, the chemicals in Windex apparently cause the skin to shrink slightly, making it the perfect tool for this job.
With that said, S.C. Johnson, the maker of Windex, expressly warns against spraying it onto your skin. So, try this one at your own risk.
Fix Self-Tanning Streaks
Again, this hack is specifically not recommended by S.C. Johnson or skin care experts, but the properties in Windex apparently make it effective at wiping away self tanner. Model Ashley Graham revealed on Instagram in 2018 that she uses the window cleaner to fix errant streaks left on her skin. It worked in the demonstration she showed, but experts were quick to point out that the chemicals in Windex can severely dry out your skin. That last fact leads us directly to our next Windex hack.
Dry Out Blemishes
Some people have found a way to harness the ability of Windex to dry out your skin into a positive use. We found numerous how-to guides online from people who have used it to quickly treat zits and other blemishes by drying them out. Perhaps the most high-profile example comes from Nia Vardalos, the writer and star of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” who famously wrote a character into the film based on her own father, who had personal experience with this hack.
Vardalos told Entertainment Weekly that her father once accidentally gotten some Windex on a wart, and it removed it by drying the wart out, prompting him to start treating the cleaner as a wonder drug capable of fixing all kinds of problems.
Windex Myth: It’s Effective As Bug Killer
Here’s an example of a classic Windex “hack” that has been disproven by experts. We found several columns online that recommended using the glass cleaner as a bug killer in desperate situations. While spraying insects with Windex will likely kill them, it’s only because it drowns them and not because of anything in the spray, according to TheKitchn, meaning a bottle of water would be just as good. The pest control expert that website spoke with said Windex won’t actually do anything to repel other bugs from invading your home, which is what proper insecticides take care of.
Where NOT To Use Windex
While we’ve shown you that Windex is capable of tackling a lot of cleaning jobs that don’t involve your windows, there are a few places you should avoid using the classic version of it. The major ones are on your touchscreens and glasses. These seem like obvious places to clean with Windex, but the chemicals in the ammonia-based version will break down the protective coating that’s used on both of these pricey surfaces, causing them to get much more oily with further use.