photo by Chase Shaw
What Can I Use to Clean my Tinted Windows Inside?
There are very few things that cause window cleaners to shake in their work boots. These professionals have been seasoned to endure working with dirt and grime all day, brave climbing ladders on uneven ground, and even scale buildings with the calm, collected nature of a meditating guru.
However, for most window cleaners, working with tint can be more terrifying than watching a horror movie alone on Friday the 13th!
When tint has been applied after the window has already been installed in the customer’s home or business, it is usually an ultra-thin sheet of polyethylene terephthalate, otherwise known as PET, that is a thermoplastic polymer resin that clings to the exterior of the glass. When tint is applied this way, either in the customer’s home, business, or even car, you need to take precautions, as it can get easily damaged.
One rule of thumb is to always apply a discreet spot test by rubbing your nail against the tint on a corner of the glass. If you notice it changes, then you know to take extreme caution while cleaning. In addition, tint generally has a lifespan of 10-15 years, so it’s a good idea to check in with your customers to ensure that their tint is not older than that. If it is older than 10-15 years, let them know there is undoubtedly a risk for scratches or even disintegration to occur before you get going on the job. Since the tint has been baking in the sun day in and day out, it is difficult to remove even a finger print without destroying the finish on it. So, let your customer know the deal and be as honest and clear as you can to save you the headache of the aftermath of what could happen if you clean and lift off the tint.
For newer tint, the risk is still there, but not nearly as much. But, great care is still needed for cleaning of this, as scratches, even if they’re minor, can occur easily and be blatantly obvious to the customer. Nobody wants to upset a customer, and avoiding scratching tint is absolutely avoidable.
So, have no fear! In this week’s Window Cleaner University article, we’ll talk about what you can use to clean the inside of tinted windows carefully, safely, and effectively.
The Gentlest Choice: Purified Water
There are various pure water cleaning instruments available that allow you to get your scrub on without having to use soap, squeegees, or stripwashers. These tools are notorious for causing accidents on tint. Stripwashers with abrasive pads on their ends can rub up against the tint and scrape. In addition, the metal or plastic ends of the squeegee channel can also pull the film up from the glass. When using an indoor pure water cleaning system, it is easier to keep the cleaning mechanisms flat and their plastic edges covered so you can clean with confidence that scratches will not occur.
Indoor Pure Water Cleaning Systems That Work
Unger Stingray Refillable Microfiber System: This system can safely clean indoor tinted windows from three feet to ten feet high. It is composed of an extension pole, two bottles for holding your pure water or cleaning solution, an applicator head, and two triangular microfiber pads. The triangular shape of the applicator head allows you to reach corners with ease, letting you detail tinted windows more thoroughly and gently. A great add-on specifically for cleaning tinted windows is the Unger Stingray Glass Cleaning Pad. This extra-plush pad is held on by elastic straps for a strong hold. Its fabric also extends half an inch past the applicator head and tucks in the head’s corners protecting the windows from the plastic edges. Plus, having two bottles lets you quickly swap them while cleaning so you don’t have to take time to refill the first one used.
IPC Eagle Cleano System: For those who love the IPC Eagle Technopad for traditional methods, the IPC Eagle Cleano System will be your new favorite tool to use for indoor pure water cleaning. The concept is very similar to cleaning with the TechnoPad, as you simple attach your pad to the head via the tiny plastic spines that hold it in place. The first priority is to only use soft pads with this system. Once you have that taken care of, you can clean from one foot all the way up to a whopping thirty five feet high! Those tinted skylights, wall-spanning windows, and more will be a breeze to clean with this system. Its rectangular shape is best suited for wider windows.
Super Soft Traditional Methods
The traditionalist in some window cleaners may have just read the above and cocked their head at the thought of cleaning with water alone. If that sounds like you, there are ways to clean tinted windows without damaging them, but you must take extreme caution.
If and only if you are using a mild soap and if you add less of it than usual to your solution, you can clean tinted windows indoors with traditional methods. Using extra care and the most basic of microfiber materials without any abrasive pads on the sides or on top is also key to employing these methods. As well, it is a good idea to leave some extra squeegee rubber hanging out the side of your channel, so the metal or plastic does not bump into the tint.
Here are some more great options other than the usual squeegee-stripwasher configuration that can minimize the amount of liquid you need, plus have a gentle touch to the sensitive glass.
IPC Eagle TechnoPad: For those who already have an extension pole at the ready, the IPC Eagle TechnoPad or the SteveO’s Techno Pad Kit with the white scrub pad is gentle enough to use for cleaning tint that is 30 days old to 10 years old. Even at 10 years old you’ll need to be careful with the white scrub pad. But, the handle and applicator head have tiny plastic spines that could attach to any soft microfiber pad or towel.
Pulex Technopad Window Kit: If you don’t already have an extension pole, then this kit will be a great addition to your toolbox. This comes with the IPC Eagle TechnoPad with handle, an easy-to-use lightweight aluminum telescopic pole, four Hydro Clean Green Microfiber Pads, and one green Soft Pad. Both of these pads would be safe to use while cleaning tinted windows, and you would simply saturate them in your solution and clean accordingly.
Moerman GeKKo Microfiber Pad Kit: The Moerman GeKKo Pad System is a great tool to add onto your traditional extension pole for indoor window cleaning. However, make sure you only use the microfiber sleeve and leave the steel wool or FUGU pads in the toolbox. Although they are great tools, you’re better off using the gentlest cloths possible. What makes this kit stand out is the shape of the application head. It is an isosceles trapezoid meaning it gives you the best of both worlds that a rectangle and a triangle would provide for cleaning wide spans of glass and detailing corners.
Tools to Absolutely Avoid
Many window cleaners have unfortunately learned the hard way that these tools are ones you absolutely cannot use on tinted glass. Using tools we know and love like a scraper, bronze wool, steel wool, and sleeves with plastic spines such as the Maykker Hedgehog Sleeve, which does wonders for non-tinted glass, will all cause big trouble for you on tint. The white pads on the sides of stripwashers, blue pads on the tops of mops, and walnut pads of any kind are another no-no.
Another thing to look out for are loose particles of steel wool. Steel wool has a habit of disintegrating and falling apart when it rusts. Pieces of it can get mixed in with all of your soft gear, creating a tough-to-clean nightmare. Always make sure to inspect your towels for any loose bits of rust, and always throw away any used steel wool when you’re done with it.
You’ll also want to avoid adding ammonia to your solution, as it will discolor the tint over time. The only substance safe to use on tint other than water is soap, and this is only to be used on tint under 10 years old, just to be safe.
Types of Products to Avoid, But are Great for Non-Tinted Windows:
Maykker Switch-Mop: Great for tackling extra dirty windows is the Maykker Switch-Mop. This clings securely to the Maykker Handy Sleeve Complete and features a long, blue scrub pad that’s replaceable for when it wears down. Non-tinted windows are no match for this powerhouse of a mop!
XERO Walnut Scrub Pad: For when you want to put your IPC Eagle TechnoPad to work on a non-tinted, ultra dirty window, take the XERO Walnut Scrub Pad for a spin. It’s constructed with actual crushed walnut shells in it, making it aggressive on non-tinted glass, but soft enough so as not to scratch it.
XERO Steel Wool: This convenient 16-piece bag is perfect for when you need steel wool handy to scrub away stubborn filth. It does wonders for scrubbing, but normally, it is a single-use item. Don’t let it rust and get all over your soft tools, or you’ll experience quite the mess!
Moerman FUGU Sleeve: The unique plastic spines woven throughout the multi-colored Moerman FUGU sleeve tackle dried-on dirt like nobody’s business. However, take this ultra-strong sleeve to tinted windows? You’ve got yourself a very expensive repair job.
Unger Pad StripWasher Sleeve: Interwoven on the plush synthetic microfiber is a tough, durable green abrasive that kicks dirt to the curb. Available in 14 and 18 inches, this sleeve is a big no-no for tinted windows, but will scour your customer’s non-tinted windows in no time.