Was Mom Right? Can you use newspaper to clean glass?

Newspaper Used To Be the Best Way to Clean Windows

Rags were never good for cleaning windows because they leave streaks and smudges. They also then have to be washed which can make window cleaning even more work. But for years that was all that was available. Newspaper is a very dense material. It is made from soft fibers that are very tightly packed together; it is not abrasive and will not scratch or pit glass.

In the past newspapers were a part of daily life and everyone got the newspaper daily. So using soft newspaper was a cheap and easy way to get cleaner windows without the hassle of rags.

What About Paper Towels?

When paper towels became common household items people tried using paper towels to clean windows. But paper towels were more expensive than newspaper. And paper towels have jagged fibers that are great for catching liquid but also can cause small scratches or pits on glass. So using newspaper remained the favored method of cleaning windows.

Sometimes the ink would run when the newspaper got wet but that was a small problem compared to the risks of using rags or the cost of paper towels. In the 80s and 90s some small newspapers or local weekly papers would sell sheets of newsprint paper that hadn’t been printed on specifically for cleaning windows and packing delicate items.

But these days most households don’t regularly get print newspapers. Print newspapers have become obsolete thanks to the Internet. In the year 2000 most print newspapers switched to a different kind of ink that doesn’t run but by then homeowners had already stopped paying for newspaper subscriptions.

The homeowners that still got the newspaper on a regular basis had to pay higher prices for subscriptions. The higher cost of subscriptions made it not very cost effective to use newspaper to clean windows.

How Do You Do It?

Washing windows with newspaper is also pretty labor intensive. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Spray the window with cleaner
  2. Rub in circular motions with newspaper
  3. Make sure all liquid is absorbed

Spraying window cleaner on the window is the first step to leave them sparkling with no smudges or streaks. Then use newspaper and rub in a circular motion to loosen the dirt. After that, you have to wipe horizontally and then vertically to make sure there are no streaks and the entire liquid cleaner is absorbed.

You have to do that for each section of the window. When you have a lot of windows in the home to clean that can be exhausting and take hours to complete. That’s one of the reasons why people cite cleaning windows as their least favorite household chore.

It is tedious, it takes a long time, and you have to pay close attention to every window or you will end up with streaky dull windows even if you are using newspaper to clean them.


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Back in the day, newspapers made a lot of sense because it was the only way one could get news so everyone had them lying around. These days, many families don’t even subscribe to any paper, so some true believers have resorted to buying fresh newspapers for each cleaning. While that might just be a dollar a week, it quickly adds up to 4 dollars a month, $48 dollars year. While it might have made good financial sense in the past, it might not for today’s high tech world.

Is Newspaper Good To Clean Windows?

The truth is that newspapers are better for cleaning windows than rags or paper towels. It is possible for wet newspaper to leave black smudges on window frames, however. Ink that is hard to clean and may even require repainting can be difficult to remove.


Some links that you might find useful:

  • Clean the glasses with newspaper
  • Newspapers? Perfect for cleaning windows
  • How to clean glass and mirrors with newspaper
  • Advice on how to clean the glass with the newspaper

What Is The Best Way To Clean Windows Mrs Hinch?

Mrs Hinch says that you can spray a simple spray that can be bought from B&M or The Range called Elvis Elbow De-Greaser (£1) onto the window panes and leave it there for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a sponge or cloth.

Newspaper To Clean Windows: Darren’s Extra Tips

I want to add some additional tips so you truly ca

I want to add some additional tips so you truly can produce professional grade results for all your window cleaning needs at home. My alternative to using newspaper to clean windows will work on virtually any glass surface and you will likely find more and more of these glass surfaces that require regular cleaning:

  • Car windows
  • House windows
  • Mirrors
  • Glass cabinets
  • Shower enclosures

Window Cleaning Tool

Invisible Glass 95161 Reach and Clean Tool (1-Piece) – Window Wand Glass Cleaning Tool for Windshields, Invisible Glass Cleaner for Auto Glass, Clean and Reach Tool for Hard-to-Reach Places

  • The exact tool I use to “leverage” my efforts
  • Take the pain out of your arms and shoulders
  • Add additional leverage when cleaning car windows that are excessively dirty
  • Perfect tool for cleaning front and rear car windows

Darren’s Tips: I love this tool! being a rather fit individual, I would have never defaulted to thinking I would need a tool like this. But when it comes to cleaning the front and back windows of many cars, it is almost impossible to reach into the very tight areas of these specific car windows.

Not only does the tool have a uniquely shaped gripping pad for tight corners, but it allows you to clean windows from a greater distance when confined to tight area of your car, most notably the back seat.

  • Foam comfort grip handle (also allows for standard extension pole to be inserted into end of handle)
  • Foam cleaning pad grips cleaning cloth for no-slip use during cleaning
  • Cleaning pad conforms to curved glass (especially useful when cleaning car windows)
  • 18″ handle allows extra leverage and reach when cleaning difficult car windows
  • Reach into tight angles and corners of windows


While ink doesn’t stick to glass, it sure does stick to both fibrous and glossy material. Watch out for your window frames, especially if you have pretty white frames. A shiny window with a smeared frame is still an unattractive window, and ink stains are a lot harder to get out than dust on a window (ever tried erasing a newspaper?)

Step 1: The Ins and Outs!

It might seem a bit strange using vinegar and newspaper in the process but it made a lot of sense when i did some research!

Why Vinegar?

Its important to use white vinegar. When white vinegar dries it leaves no residue. This is extremely important when cleaning glass. The acidic nature of the vinegar helps to break down any pesky grease and oil on the glass so that they can be wiped away!

Why Newspaper?

The real star of the show is the newspaper. This is down to the fact that newspapers are made from really densely packed fibers with nothing in the paper that can scratch or mark the glass. These densely packed fibers mean that the fibers cannot separate which is very important. You see this unwanted separation first hand when you use other materials like tissue paper or cloth to clean your glass. These materials leave a trail of lint across the glass when you use them! This is also the reason why, when using newspapers to clean windows they will never leave a streak! The absorbing nature of the newspapers also helps to absorb any oils and smudges that may be on the glass allowing for that crystal clear finish.

The combination of both allows for the ultimate glass cleaning combo. The vinegar helps to break down the oils and dirt on the window and the newspapers absorb it all, all the while leaving zero streaks!

Step 3: Scrub

Now its time to get down to work. Grab the newspaper and scrunch up a few sheets into newspaper balls to use for the scrubbing. If the glass is very dirty use a mixture of vinegar and water in a bowl of water to scrub the glass. A mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water is what i used. For heavier dirt you can add more vinegar! Alternatively you can mix the vinegar and water in the spray bottle for easy application onto the glass.

Using your bowl or spray bottle as well as the newspaper scrub the windows until the grease and smudges start to disappear. Don’t be afraid to be generous with the water!

Unfortunately it was very hard to photograph the difference between the clean and dirty glass with a normal window so i had to use a frosted glass window.

Windshield Coating

As your windshield has never been cleaner, now’s the time to use a windshield sealant. I use Rain-X because I know it works, it seals the window and repels rainwater. Any good sealant will clear from the windshield of rain at about 60 mph without the wipers.

Repelling rain water is the windshields sealants main function but it also protects the windshield and prevents UV rays, water spots, acid rain and helps repel dirt.

It also allows the wiper blades to move like butter, reducing friction reduces wear on the wiper blades, motor and reduces wiper noise.

Stuff you’ll need:

  • Two Micro-fibre cloths
  • Windshield sealant

Step Two:

Buff off using a micro-fiber cloth.

The Rain-X product will last a few months, before needing re-application. Avoid using a sealant on soft top plastic glass.

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