Strange fingerprints on windows


I recently moved into a new house. Several of the exterior vinyl windows have these strange fingerprints on the outside of the upper pane just above the meeting rails. I've tried cleaning them with a razor blade, soap and water, Windex, Simple Green (full strength), Goo- Gone, Goof-off and Turpentine. With tons of elbow grease, I'm able to get the fingerprints off - with no one product obviously dissolving whatever the fingerprints are made from. Still, when I go to clean the window afterward, just spraying a soapy solution to squeegee, you can clearly see where the fingerprints are - even though the window is mostly clear. I have 19 windows to go and dread the thought of having to spend 15-20 minutes on each getting these prints off and even then - not really getting them all the way off. Any ideas what they could be and what would dissolve them without damaging the glass or windows?
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Try these things, in this order, or based on what you already have in the house.
WD-40 Lighter fluid (Rossignol or Zippo, not charcoal) Acetone
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On Thu, 29 Jul 2010 12:41:34 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

Caution about the Acetone. Do not get it on the vinyl as it will cause damage.
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Oren wrote:

Sounds like somebody in the factory had bare dirty hands when they assembled the sashes or the windows. Residue from the glue that holds the glass panel in the frame, I suspect. Warm solvent, warm vinyl, glass surface that it is cleaner than it will ever be again, viola, permanent fingerprints on the glass. A more permanent version of the wiping pattern you see on the inside of your windshield when you fire up the defroster, even though the glass looks perfectly clear in bright sunlight. Glass ain't solid, it is a supercooled liquid. Not that hard for stuff to bond with it.
Having said all that- let go of the OCD- nobody else notices or cares. First good rainstorm, the light layer of haze on the outside of the glass will hide all until you scrub again.
--
aem sends...

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Clean the inside of your windshield properly and you won't have a "wiping pattern".
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I am fairly sure it was from the installers, not the factory guys. Maybe it is some residue from the caulk, but I would have thought that the goof-off would have taken care of that, if not the turpentine. After 15-20 minutes of scrubbing and rubbing it looks clean, and is only visible when the window is wet, foggy, or the sun hits it at the right angle. So I'm not worried about those situations (no OCD), I'm more concerned with having to vigorously scrub 19 more windows for 20 minutes to achieve satisfactory results. Especially when half those windows are on the second story and I'll have to half hang myself out the window to be able to get any leverage.
Thanks for the other suggestions - I'll try lacquer thinner and gasoline and just be careful about where I get it.
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re: "I'll try lacquer thinner and gasoline"
Not at the same time, I hope!
...and put out that d*mn cigarette.
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aemeijers wrote:

this is not correct. it is not a supercooled liquid. it is an amorphous solid.
http://www.obscure.org/physics-faq/General/Glass/glass.html

regards, charlie http://www.glassartists.org/ChaniArts
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Oren wrote:

Acetone can also dissolve the oils out of your fingers which can be unpleasant. Gloves are suggested. Acetone will attack some of them.
As Sonny and Tony suggest, a fine abrasive may be needed. If I remember right, a paste of baking soda is very a very mild abrasive. Some household cleaners include abrasives.
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If you can only see them when you spray the window with something, why are you worried about them?
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Because they're there?
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I guess....a waste of time IMO.
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Matt wrote:

Lacquer thinner. Won't hurt glass, but don't get it on any painted surface, or plastic. I haven't come across anything that it won't dissolve, remove, clean, etc. Lacquer thinner is the only thing that can remove the very nasty PL-premium adhesive (and probably also expanding foam) from your hands before it dries.
Something else that might also work well in your case - gasoline.
In both cases, just a teaspoon full on a folded half-sized paper towel or rag is enough.
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I've used some urethane caulk, the stuff used to build school buses. freight train cars or used in fender well/trunk seams of automobiles.
Choices are chewing it off your hands or repeated use of a pumice stone in the shower. Get it in your hair and the only solution is to clip the hair out.
Get in one your clothes - well it _never_ comes out. BTDT.
One of those "I wouldn't want to be the one that takes this thing apart."
Fred says, "It will stick to a ball of lard."
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This is from the Kolbe & Kolbe website, their FAQ section:
14 - What can I use to clean my vinyl windows? A few drops of a mild liquid cleaner in a bucket of water is sufficient. If you have more stubborn build-up, the following household cleaners work well: Formula 409, Ajax Liquid Cleaner, Murphy 's Oil Soap, Lysol Cleaner, Soft Scrub, or vinegar and water. The following cleaners or types of cleaners should NOT be used on vinyl; Clorox, Pine Power, Ivory, Grease Relief, Tide Detergent, nail polish remover (acetone).
If all fails, there is a paste polish that glass companies used.... can't recall the name. About $30 for a 6 oz can. It is used to sand out small scratches, unusual finger prints, etc. Very fine grit... It actually sands down the glass to remove whatever. The same stuff lens polishers use for making/cleaning lenses for things like telescopes, microscopes, etc., also. Maybe your local glass supplier will sell you a tablespoon. It doesn't take much, if you only have a few spots to clean/repair.
Sonny
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Except then you will need to clean the glass with something else, because lacquer thinner will leave a hazy, streaky residue of its own. However, I have had to resort to that on occasion for particularly troublesome windshields.
nate
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Matt wrote:

Maybe the fingerprints are etched *into* the glass and not *on* it? Try some glass polish (a very fine abrasive) found in some auto parts stores to polish windshields.
Long ago I had a brand new company car that for the few years I had it, I could never get rid of some streaks when the wipers were running. The streaks ran vertically, looked like some kind of liquid had run down and etched the windshield. I didn't think of glass polish then.
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