How to Clean Glass with Newspaper

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How to clean glass with just newspaper |

One of my least favorite cleaning chores has always been washing windows and mirrors.

Conventional glass-cleaning products are usually filled with chemicals, and they usually smell pretty nasty too.

And even natural cleaners often don’t work as well, leaving streaks on the glass – which seems to happen a lot even with those products that claim to be “streak-free.” And then there’s the problem of the little bits of lint left by the paper towels that make the glass look just as dusty as if it had never been cleaned in the first place.

An Old-Fashioned Solution

I’ve finally found an old-fashioned glass cleaning method, though, that is effective, non-toxic, recyclable, and essentially free! The solution? Clean glass with newspaper. That’s it. Just newspaper!

I found this method in a little pamphlet from 1859 called “The Domestic Economist and Family Physician.” This is the way the pamphlet describes the method:

To Clean Looking Glasses – Take a newspaper, fold it small, dip it in a basin of clear cold water.

When thoroughly wet, squeeze it out as you do sponge, then rub it pretty hard all over the surface of the glass, taking care that it is not so wet as to run down in streams: in fact, the paper must only be completely moistened, or dampened, all through.

Let it rest a few minutes, then go over the glass with a piece of fresh dry newspaper, till it looks clear and bright. The insides of windows may be cleaned in the same way; also spectacle glasses, lamp-glasses &c.”

I was a bit skeptical about this method at first. No cleaning solution? Just damp newspaper?! I had to try it myself to believe it, and . . . it actually worked!

To test it out, I used the dirtiest window I could find, the one my dog, Daisy, likes to use as her look-out spot to watch people and other dogs walk down the street.

IMG_7086edt2 rs


Because Daisy is constantly slobbering on the window, the glass ends up looking like this:

dirty window rs

This is the best photo I could get of the slobber. Trust me, though, this picture doesn’t even do it justice. It looks much, much worse in person. In the afternoon, when the sunlight hits the glass at just the right angle, you can actually see streaks of doggy snot running down the window. Not exactly a pretty sight.

After using the newspaper method, though, that same pane of glass looked like this:

clean window rs

Again, it’s really hard to get a good picture of the window glass, but the streaks and smudges and dog slobber were completely gone! And the method couldn’t be any simpler.

How to Do the Newspaper Method

1) The only two products you need for this method, of course, are water and a couple of pages from an old newspaper. I’d recommend using the normal old-fashioned black-and-white papery kind, though, not the colored shiny pages used for ads and store flyers.

2) Then, like the “Domestic Economist” says, dip the newspaper into a bowl of water, or run it under the faucet, and squeeze out any excess water so it is just damp and not dripping wet.

3) Then just scrub away at the window like you usually would. Unless it’s really, really filthy you probably won’t have to scrub too hard.

4)Then, just take a dry page of newspaper and polish the glass with it until all the water drops are gone and it looks clear and shiny. Put the newspaper into the recycling bin, and you’re done!

Bonus Benefits of the Newspaper Method:

  • No extra cost – use old newspapers you’ve already finished reading
  • Non-toxic – no chemicals, no anything except for water.
  • No streaks – no leftover product residue
  • No lint – newspaper doesn’t leave dusty lint behind like paper towels
  • No waste – unlike paper towels soaked with glass-cleaner, the newspaper can be recycled

I’ve heard of frugal household cleaning methods, but this is just about as frugal as it gets. The housewives of the olden days really knew what they were talking about. Happy cleaning!

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How to clean glass with just newspaper |


This post is linked to  Sunday School at Butter Believer,  Natural Living Link-Up at Jill’s Home Remedies, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable.




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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

14 thoughts on “How to Clean Glass with Newspaper”

  1. I have used this method for years, but several years ago developed an allergic reaction to the inks used. Even the aroma of the ink is an irritant to me. I wear gloves and that cuts down on the skin reaction, but I still have a problem with the aroma.

  2. I have used this method for years, but several years ago developed an allergic reaction to the inks used. Even the aroma of the ink is an irritant to me. I wear gloves and that cuts down on the skin reaction, but I still have a problem with the aroma.

    • That’s too bad about your allergic reaction! I bet the ink used in newspapers today is quite a bit different than the way it used to be back in the 1800s and earlier.

      • Today’s inks are very different compared to those used in the 1800s. I worked for a large newspaper for 11 years and while I was there they changed from using oil-based inks to water-based inks. That is why the ink comes off on your hands more easily than it used to, and it might be less effective for cleaning glass these days as well. I say this because I was recently given a mirrored display cabinet when my aunt downsized her house and the first time I cleaned the glass (not with newspaper) a black film (which had not been visible) came off the glass. I later found out that my aunt had always cleaned the glass with newspaper and methylated spirits. I still use the metho but I use a paper towel instead of newspaper. The glass looks much brighter now.

  3. What a great idea! Of course, I had to try this before I responded and fortunately I was able to find some old newspaper. I don’t read newspapers but I had a free sample saved.

    I also had a “looking glass” πŸ™‚ with smudges on it. Being frugal and avoiding commercial products whenever I can I am impressed! Thank you, I am for sure sharing this tip!

  4. I used to work for a taxi and limousine company, and the drivers all used this method. Some used vinegar and water, some just water, but all of them swore by the newspaper!

  5. This is definitely an old fashioned way to clean a glass window, but actually effective and easy to use. There are tons of procedure on how to clean windows safely without using chemical products. And this one is a good example. If you don’t want to use newspaper, microfiber cloth is the best alternative. This is a must share.

  6. I remember my mom used to clean windows with newspapers. Now as technologies have advanced I think there are many, much more efficient ways to wash windows. At least using newspapers is really cheap.

    • Yeah, it’s probably not the most efficient way πŸ™‚ It’s just fun to try if you like old-fashioned methods, and pretty frugal too.

  7. Good article. I have to say I use a small amount of Fairy liquid in my bucket of water. It has to be good-quality soap or, I find, it’s prone to leaving residue that you don’t always spot straight away. A small amount of vinegar or lemon juice in the water also really helps cut through grease on dirtier windows.

    • That sounds like a really good idea to add a little vinegar or lemon juice to help with grease. Thanks for sharing with us!


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