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Jalousies, or louvered windows. The best way to clean them (Revised)

By Jeffrey the Barak.

This is the third rewrite of this old article, because research is ongoing.

I have hundreds of jalousie panes to clean at home. I live in Hawai’i where they are very popular, as they are good for allowing the trade winds keep the house cool.

Cleaning these multiple panes of glass is hard work, so over the last few years I have tried as many different ways as I could think of to make it a less than diabolical job.

I will start with the conclusion, so you do not have to read this whole article if you don’t want to.

The best way: Denatured Alcohol, mixed 1:1 with water in a spray bottle, and some microfiber towels

Known in some parts of the world as methylated spirits, denatured alcohol is a very inexpensive alcohol, poisonous to ingest, sold by the gallon at hardware stores, without any of the taxes that you would get on whiskey or wine.

Don’t worry if you see a metal can or plastic jug that says “clean burning fuel” as opposed to “cleans glass”. It is the same stuff.

It is basically 70% alcohol, mostly ethyl alcohol, plus some methyl alcohol and carbonol, with additives that make it taste terrible, including the very poisonous propylene glycol, and around 30% water.

The exact formula varies across different brands, but we can simplify the description and call it a can of 70% ethyl alcohol.

For windows you mix this in equal parts with water, making it 35% alcohol. This water slows the evaporation from your towel so it can work its magic on the glass jalousies.

Why is it so good?

Because it dries with no cloudy hazing or streaking. No other method does this so well, so quickly or so easily.

Spray your 1:1 onto a microfiber towel, wipe the jalousie panes clean and that’s it! No matter if they are quite clean or completely filthy, the result is the same, extremely fast and perfect.

Thanks Ethyl!

Equally effective if you can stand the smell, “Dawnegar”.

I dislike the smell of vinegar, but this works. There is a home recipe known as Dawnegar, a 50/50 blend of white vinegar and Dawn dish soap. It is normally used to cut through calcium deposits on shower doors, and so if your jalousies have whitish dirt that never completely rubs off, a fine mist spray with Dawnegar, wiped away with a damp microfiber towel, might be what you need to cut through it.

It does not dry as streak-free as the alcohol, and it smells like fish and chips, but if calcium is your foe, it works.

The previous best, and now third best way: damp Magic Eraser followed by dry microfiber towel.

This method is fast and easy, makes no mess, and uses no soap or window cleaning products.

Method: Open the jalousies and use a melamine pad, (either a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or generic equivalent). Wet the pad under the tap, wring it out and then wipe the top of a pane with circular motions. This top side is the outside side and will be the dirtier side. Quickly wipe the bottom (inside side) with a brief left and right motion with the same eraser, and then dry both sides with a dry and clean microfiber towel.

Repeat for every pane. You will need to rinse, squeeze and re-wet the eraser pad after a few panes. The result is no smears, no haze, and no excess water. It is reasonably quick, clean and easy. Use no pressure, just a light touch is all you need during both stages.

Other ways to do it, and I’ve tried all of these plus a couple more:

Pressure washer or garden hose from the outside.

Okay this sounds like fun, but if you’ve ever observed jalousies in a hurricane, you will know that water under force will simply come right inside the house. You have to have a second person inside with a big towel. The only good thing about this method is you wash the screens in place, but really, it is a lot of effort and you will never have enough towels to dry up the mess.

The results are unfortunately disappointing. There will be haze.

Windex brand or similar window cleaning product, or car windshield wash, wet application, followed by a squeegee and towel, or just towels.

These window cleaners may or may not work better than plain water or soapy water, but only if the glass is cold to the touch, which is unlikely in Hawai’i. The windshield fluid is actually better and less expensive than the window cleaner, but the squeegee is not really suited to multiple tiny panes held at each end with a clip, and in practice, this method always results in hazy glass. Using newspaper rather than towels creates an even bigger mess as jalousies tend to shred up paper.

As above with a barely damp towel application.

Sadly this still results in haze, and unlike melamine pads, stubborn dirt does not always get dislodged. After a few panes, the towel will deposit as much mess as it removes, and the glass will dry hazy.

I have tried other methods, too ridiculous to share here, but the bottom line is, the ethyl spray and microfiber towel, are the dream pairing for this potentially miserable job.

Jeffrey the Barak is a professional idiot who wasted a thousand hours failing to clean jalousies before ethyl alcohol arrived to save the day.

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