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How to Clean Weathered Glass

Dan Ketchum

When glass contends with dirt, rain and the elements for too long, it becomes weathered, taking on a dull, opaque appearance.

Cleaning weathered glass entails a multistep process.

Whether you've found a trove of weathered glass in an old barn or antique mall, or you let glass on your property remain exposed to the elements too long, you can restore the shine and transparency to weathered glass.

  1. Dampen a lint-free cleaning cloth with water. Wipe the glass with slow strokes in one direction to remove surface dirt.

  2. Gently scrape off any rust stains or buildup with a scalpel or putty knife. Once the stain has been scraped off, remove the remaining residue with soap-embedded steel wool.

  3. Scrub the surface of the glass with soap-embedded steel wool in a circular motion to remove lime buildup.

  4. Create a solution of water and abrasive window-washing concentrate according to the instructions on the concentrate's bottle. Dip a plastic-bristled brush in the solution and scrub in a clockwise motion to remove paint, wax, grease, tar and smoke residue from the weathering glass. Thoroughly rinse the glass with water.

  5. Fill a sink or basin with cool or room-temperature water. Avoid hot water as it may may crack or damage glass. Add a nickel-sized amount of dish-washing soap to every gallon of water.

  6. Dip the glass or a portion of the glass in the soap and water solution. Dip a scouring sponge in the solution and scrub the surface of the glass in a clockwise motion.

  7. Allow the glass to air dry.

  8. Spray the dry glass with an ammonia-based glass cleaner. Wipe the glass clean with newspaper to avoid streaking. Ammonia cleaner helps remove hard-water buildup and mineral deposits.

  9. Tip

    Substitute white vinegar for ammonia-based glass cleaner for a more eco-friendly solution.


    Avoid cleaning the glass in direct sunlight as it may cause the cleaning solutions to dry on to the glass.

    Do not use a scouring sponge or plastic-bristled brush on glass with decorative gilding or enamels. Substitute a soft sponge or soft artist's brush.