Proper Vinyl Window Care: Do’s and Don’ts 

Proper Vinyl Window Care: Do’s and Don’ts 

July 31, 2023
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door

For something so universal and common, vinyl window care can be a real mystery to the average homeowner.

You've probably spent thousands of dollars on your vinyl windows, including installation, and the last thing you'd want is to have it ruined by a lack of TLC.

Milgard Vinyl Window Glass Tuscany series

Vinyl windows in San Diego can face a variety of challenges due to the local weather conditions. Situated on the Southern California coast, these windows are exposed to intense heat and excess moisture, making them vulnerable to potential damage.

However, the right care regimen can keep your windows looking pristine and in tip-top shape for years. In this guide, we'll explore the dos and don'ts of vinyl window care to help you maintain their brilliance and prolong their lifespan.

The Do's of Vinyl Window Care   

Vinyl window care doesn't have to be difficult or confusing. With the right knowledge, you can ensure your vinyl windows last longer and maintain their visual appeal. Here's how to clean vinyl windows:

Clean Window Frames  

Over time, dust, dirt, and grime can accumulate, leading to discoloration and deterioration. Make window frame cleaning a regular part of your home maintenance routine with a mild cleaner and a soft cloth, ensuring your frames stay spotless and your vinyl material stays intact.

If stubborn stains don't come off with the mild cleaning solution, consider using a small amount of vinegar diluted in water. Vinegar's mild acidity can help break down certain stains without harming the vinyl.

Keep your vinyl windows looking pristine, creating an inviting and comfortable living space for your family, all while avoiding costly repairs in the future.

Avoid Intense Temperature on Vinyl Windows   

Your vinyl windows may be durable but not invincible to extreme temperatures. Protecting them from intense heat and cold ensures their long-term performance and appearance. Vinyl has a relatively low melting point compared to other window materials, making it susceptible to warping and cracking when exposed to high temperatures.

cleaning vinyl window with sponge mop

During scorching summer days, the intense heat from direct sunlight can cause the vinyl frames to expand, leading to warping. Over time, this warping can compromise the window's functionality, making it challenging to open, close, or lock properly. Additionally, warping can create gaps, allowing drafts and moisture to seep into your home, reducing energy efficiency and potentially leading to water damage.

On the other hand, extreme cold can make vinyl windows brittle and prone to cracking. When temperatures drop significantly, the vinyl material contracts, making it more susceptible to damage from impact or pressure. Cracks in the vinyl detract from the window's appearance and compromise its ability to provide adequate insulation and protection against the elements.

Consider using window coverings or shades during temperature extremes to shield your vinyl windows from these temperature-related issues. Closing blinds or curtains on hot days can help reduce the direct heat absorbed by the vinyl, preventing warping and damage. During cold weather, insulating window coverings can help keep the interior temperature stable, reducing the risk of cracking due to extreme temperature fluctuations.

Additionally, consider using energy-efficient windows with Low-E (low emissivity) coatings. These coatings can help minimize heat transfer through the glass, making your home more comfortable in hot and cold weather.

Use Mild Cleaners on Vinyl Windows   

Cleaning vinyl windows regularly is essential to keep them looking their best and functioning optimally. However, the choice of cleaning agents can significantly impact the longevity and appearance of the vinyl material. Always opt for mild, non-abrasive cleaners to safeguard your windows and avoid harsh chemicals that may cause discoloration or damage.

Mild cleaners, such as dish soap or a gentle multi-surface cleaner diluted in warm water, effectively remove everyday dirt, dust, and fingerprints from your vinyl windows. They are gentle enough to clean the surface without compromising the integrity of the vinyl. When using these mild solutions, remember to apply them with a soft cloth or sponge to avoid scratching the vinyl surface.

Harsh chemicals, such as bleach, ammonia, or abrasive cleaners, should be avoided at all costs. These potent substances can react negatively with the vinyl, leading to discoloration, fading, or even corrosion. Also, abrasive cleaners can leave unsightly scratches on the vinyl, damaging its smooth finish.

When cleaning your vinyl windows, always follow the manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines. Some windows may have specific cleaning instructions to maintain their warranty and prevent damage.

Regularly Clean the Glass of Vinyl Windows   

Regularly cleaning the glass of your vinyl windows improves visibility and maximizes the amount of natural light entering your home. Clean windows allow sunlight to illuminate your living spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting and creating a brighter, more cheerful atmosphere.

Start by gathering a high-quality glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth or microfiber towel. Avoid using abrasive materials, which can scratch the glass and diminish its clarity. Begin by spraying the glass cleaner evenly across the surface of the window. Pay special attention to areas with fingerprints, smudges, or other noticeable stains.

Gently wipe the glass with the lint-free cloth, using smooth and consistent strokes. For stubborn stains or dried-on debris, you may need to apply a bit more pressure but always avoid using excessive force. Be thorough in your cleaning, ensuring you cover the entire glass surface, including corners and edges.

Make it a part of your routine home maintenance to clean the glass surfaces of your vinyl windows at least once a month or as needed. By doing so, you not only maintain the beauty and clarity of your windows but also promote a healthier and more enjoyable living environment. Enjoy the clear views and bask in the radiant natural light that your well-maintained vinyl windows provide every day.

cleaning window

The Don'ts of Vinyl Window Care   

Picture this – You've come home to find your once beautiful vinyl windows marred with irreversible scratches and stains. Harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaning tools have taken their toll, leaving you facing the nightmare of costly window replacements and the regret of neglecting proper vinyl window care.

Don't let this nightmare become your reality – avoid these mistakes in your vinyl window care routine!

Using Abrasives on Vinyl Windows   

When cleaning your vinyl windows, you must be mindful of the tools and materials you use. Abrasive materials and scrub brushes may seem like handy tools for tackling tough stains or grime, but they can pose a serious risk to the surface of your vinyl windows.

Vinyl is a relatively soft material, and using abrasive tools can easily scratch and mar its surface. These scratches not only detract from the window's appearance but also compromise the integrity of the vinyl. Over time, a scratched surface may become more prone to collecting dirt and becoming discolored, making it even harder to maintain a clean and attractive window.

When cleaning your vinyl windows, opt for soft cloths, microfiber towels, or non-abrasive sponges to avoid such issues. These gentle materials are effective in removing dirt and grime without causing damage. Pair them with mild cleaning solutions to safely clean the vinyl surfaces and maintain their original finish. In cases where stubborn stains persist, avoid the temptation to use abrasive materials as a quick fix.

cleaning window at home

Instead, consider using alternative cleaning methods, such as a mixture of vinegar and water or a specialized vinyl cleaner that is safe for the material. Always test any new cleaning product or method on a small, inconspicuous area of the window first to ensure it doesn't cause any unintended damage.

Remember, prevention is the best strategy. Regularly cleaning your vinyl windows with the right tools and materials, and avoiding abrasive substances altogether, will help keep them looking pristine and protect their structural integrity.

Using Harmful Solvents on Vinyl Windows   

When cleaning your vinyl windows, it's essential to exercise caution and avoid using harmful solvents or strong chemicals. Substances such as acetone, ammonia, or bleach-based cleaners may be effective for other cleaning tasks, but they can spell disaster for your vinyl windows.

Vinyl is a type of plastic material that is susceptible to damage from chemical exposure. Harsh solvents can react with the vinyl, causing permanent damage, such as discoloration, fading, or even degradation of the material. The chemical reactions may weaken the vinyl's structure, leading to cracks, brittleness, and an overall compromised window.

Additionally, using harmful solvents on vinyl windows may void the manufacturer's warranty, leaving you responsible for any repairs or replacements. It's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and maintenance to ensure the warranty remains valid.

Instead of resorting to strong chemical cleaners, stick to mild and safe alternatives. A simple solution of warm water and dish soap or a gentle multi-surface cleaner is often sufficient to remove dirt, grime, and fingerprints from your vinyl windows. Use a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge to avoid scratching the surface.

Forgetting To Rinse and Dry Vinyl Windows   

Completing the cleaning process for your vinyl windows involves more than just applying the cleaning solution. After you've cleaned the windows with a mild solution and a soft cloth, it's crucial to remember the final steps of rinsing and drying.

clean Tuscany vinyl window

Rinsing the vinyl windows is essential to remove any leftover cleaning solution or residue. If not thoroughly rinsed, the cleaning solution may dry on the surface, leaving unsightly streaks or spots. These water spots can be challenging to remove and may even attract more dirt and grime over time, making your windows look less than pristine.

After cleaning, take a few extra moments to rinse the vinyl windows with clean water. Use a separate cloth or sponge dampened with clean water to wipe away any remaining cleaning solution. Pay special attention to corners, edges, and areas where the cleaning solution may have accumulated.

After rinsing, it's equally important to dry the vinyl surfaces with a soft, lint-free cloth. Drying ensures that no water spots or streaks are left behind. The gentle wiping action of the cloth will also help to buff the windows, leaving them with a clear and sparkling finish.

Allowing the vinyl windows to air dry naturally may not yield the desired results. Air-drying can lead to water spots and streaks, detracting from your windows' overall cleanliness and appearance.

By diligently rinsing and drying your vinyl windows after cleaning, you can maintain their spotless and attractive look. These simple final steps ensure that your windows stay free from water spots and maintain their clarity, allowing natural light to fill your living spaces.

Using Sharp Objects on Vinyl Windows   

Vinyl is a relatively soft material compared to other window materials like glass or metal. Sharp objects like knives, razors, or abrasive scouring pads can easily puncture or scratch the vinyl surface. Once the vinyl is damaged, there is no simple fix to restore its original appearance, and the structural integrity may also be compromised.

Punctures in the vinyl can create openings that allow moisture to seep into the window frame, potentially leading to water damage and mold growth. Scratches not only detract from the window's aesthetic appeal but can also make the surface more susceptible to dirt buildup and discoloration over time.

When dealing with stubborn stains or debris, it's essential to use gentle and non-abrasive cleaning methods. Start by applying a mild cleaning solution and using a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge to remove the stain. Let the solution soak for a few minutes to loosen the debris before gently wiping it away.

Cleaning Vinyl Windows in Direct Sunlight   

The heat from the sun or warm weather can cause the cleaning solution to evaporate rapidly, leaving behind streaks and residue on the vinyl. Additionally, the heat can make the vinyl more pliable, potentially leading to accidental dents or scratches if too much pressure is applied during cleaning.

It's best to choose a time to clean your vinyl windows when they are not exposed to direct sunlight and are at a moderate temperature to avoid streaks or residue. Early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is less intense, can be ideal for window cleaning. Additionally, cleaning on an overcast day or when the outdoor temperature is cooler can also yield better results.



A little extra care and attention today will go a long way in preserving the beauty and performance of your vinyl windows for many years to come. Not to mention, you'll save yourself from the hefty cost of replacement windows.

If you find yourself in need of replacement windows or expert advice on vinyl window care, don't hesitate to reach out to US Window and Door. Our team of skilled professionals is ready to assist you with top-quality replacement window installation, ensuring your home enjoys the benefits of stunning and energy-efficient vinyl windows. Take the next step in enhancing your living space, and get in touch with our vinyl window experts today!