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CLEAN WINDOWS

Dear Do-It Man: Could you give me any helpful suggestions for cleaning windows where there are dirty stains from sprinklers?

I have tried all the usual household measures such as a vinegar and water solution, straight vinegar, ammonia and rubbing alcohol. I have also tried LIME-A-WAY.Although I wash the windows fairly often and they seem clean, when I look through the windows from the inside out there are still visible stains.

Surely there must be some remedy. - Mrs. T., Beaver.

Dear Mrs. T: The good news is there's something else you might want to try.

The bad news is that some hard-water stains are virtually impossible to get off.

If your windows have reached that stage, there's nothing you can do short of replacing the glass or resigning yourself to having a dingy view.

A person we spoke to at Alumaline Corp. of America, a Salt Lake City-based window company, suggested trying SOFT SCRUB. He gave us that recommendation personally, not professionally, saying it had worked like a charm for him.

After using the product, you would need to rinse the glass thoroughly with water and then use a squeegee or a clean, lint-free cloth to remove water from the surface of the glass.

However, we have a strong word of warning.

We called The Clorox Company in Oakland, Calif. It is the maker of SOFT SCRUB. The company does not officially recommend using the product on glass because it is a mild abrasive and you could actually scratch the glass if you rubbed too hard.

Abrasive cleaners work by rubbing away the stain. If you rubbed too hard beyond the stain, you could essentially scrape away some of the glass, doing irreparable damage.

Your windows would then have a "scratchy" look in stead of a "dingy" look.

To put it in the words of a spokeswoman for The Clorox Company, "If she tries it, tell her to rub very gently. Otherwise she could etch the glass."

(When in doubt, test a product on a small section of glass and see what happens.)

The Clorox Company makes another product that might work, depending on what kind of stain you have. It is relatively new and called Tilex Soap Scum Remover.

A spokesman for PPG Industries, a company in Pittsburgh, Pa., that manufacturers glass, told us there are some hard-water stains you won't be able to get off.

"If the stains are there long enough, it's as if they become part of the glass. They become imbedded in the glass," he told us over the phone.

A glass wholesaler in Seattle told us they sometimes discard glass that has been transported across country without a tarp (against company policy) and has stains from rain water on it that they haven't been able to get off.