Our mother used to say it was a sin to have dirty windows and not let the sunshine in. Here’s some help for all you sinners…

Drapery aside: If you have curtains, here is a way to prevent them from getting messed up while your windows are being cleaned. Without taking them off the rod, drape each panel on a hanger, then hang the hanger on the curtain rod—the panels on the right side of the window should, of course, be hung on the right side of the curtain rod. The panels on the left side of the window should be hung on the left side of the curtain rod. (We’re sure you would figure that out for yourself.)

Easy homemade window-washing solution: Combine one cup of white vinegar with three cups of warm water. (If your windows seem extra grimy or greasy, add two or three tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.) Dip a scrunched-up piece of plain newspaper (no colored ink) into the mixture, squeeze it until it stops dripping, then use it to clean the window. (Be sure to wear rubber gloves so that the newsprint doesn’t get on your hands.) Then dry the window with some dry pieces of scrunched-up plain newspaper.

Better than newspapers: The best cleaner for windows are those professional-grade squeegees. But if you don’t have one of those and you don’t love working with newspapers (it’s not the best fit for tight window corners), try a clean blackboard eraser. If you don’t have kids with blackboards, you can find these ancient artifacts online or wherever school supplies are sold.

Homemade window primer: Mix one-half cup of cornstarch into one gallon of warm water. Dip a coarse washcloth into the solution, wring it out, and use it to clean the window. Then dry the window with paper towel or plain newspaper. After doing this a few times, the window should be primed. After several cornstarch treatments, all you’ll need to clean your windows is a dry cloth.

Up, down…side to side: When you wipe your windows, clean up and down on the inside, and from side to side on the outside. That way, if you do see a streak that you want to wipe away, you will know which side it’s on.

When a cloudy day is a good thing: If you clean your windows on a bright, sunny day, they will dry quickly, leaving those dreaded streaks. The answer? Clean windows on an overcast day so that they will dry more slowly, giving you more time to wipe them streak-free.