photo by @diamond_edge_window_cleaning
What is the best thing for cleaning tinted windows?
In the world of window cleaning, scenarios that seem downright daunting will often pop up, regardless of your experience level. Every window cleaner has that one task that makes them sweat and need to carry an extra towel for their forehead. For many cleaners out there, the duty that haunts them most is cleaning tinted windows.
Cleaning film-coated or tinted windows is no trip to the circus. Even the slightest amount of pressure could hurt the tint or film, especially if it was installed after the window was produced, and has a thicker coating that’s easier to scrape accidentally. There are two kinds of situations that will cause tint to be on the outside of the glass. Normally, when tinted glass is produced in a factory, it is supposed to be on the inner side of the glass, but sometimes, in production, accidents happen, and it ends up on the outside. The second kind of tint, a thin sheet of plastic known as film-tint, is applied when people want to reduce heat in their homes or businesses. Both kinds of tints can be scratched if the right precautions are not taken. Not only does this make your work look poor, but now there are blemishes that need to be repaired, which means money out of your pocket. With so many people enjoying the effects tinted windows have on their homes and businesses, there’s got to be a way to clean them up safely.
Well, window cleaners, we’ve got the tools and methods here! In this week’s Window Cleaner University article, we’ll go over the best things for cleaning tinted windows.
The Best Tools: Softer is Safer
A quick rule of thumb for this slightly-dreadful task is to be gentle! Now, this mantra isn’t ideal for your average non-tinted window, where you can be a little more aggressive with scrubbing, cleaning, and wiping. But, for windows with exterior tints or film coats, you’ll want to say this to yourself on repeat. You’ll need to be gentle not only with the tools you choose but also with the pressure you apply with your hands. The more delicate the tool and the lighter the pressure you use, the easier it will be to prevent disappointing snags or tears.
#1: Microfiber Sleeves
You’ll want to avoid anything sharp, pointy, or abrasive for cleaning tinted windows like it’s the plague. Walnut, Bronze Wool, Steel Wool, White, and Blue scrubbing pads, scrapers, and sleeves with nylon bristles should remain in the toolbox! Instead, utilize a soft microfiber sleeve with no plastic spines or scouring pads. It must be plush and smooth all around. Something like the Ettore Dura Stripwasher, the Pulex Complete FT 12 Stripwasher, or the Unger Complete Original Stripwasher would all be good choices, as they don’t feature any abrasive pads on their ends or porcupine spines. Even a microfiber towel could be ideal and encourage you to take your time cleaning. Generally, it’s good practice for window cleaners to clean as quickly and effectively as possible, but in a tinted window scenario, you’d want to instead take your time to prevent damages.
#2: Mild Soap Solutions
Take a walk on the mild side with these gentler soaps, such as Crazy Larry’s Window Cleaning Concentrate or Titan Glass Gleam 4 Soap, which are both known to be eco-friendly and safe to use on the skin. Both of these great soaps feature lubricating agents that would allow the squeegee to glide easily. Both have consistent formulas that offer drag reduction, are kind to hands, and have almost no bleed-back. Titan Glass Gleam 4 also has a slower-drying formula than other traditional soaps on the market, so you can take your time and be softer when squeegeeing it away. Crazy Larry’s soap is made in California in small batches with a keen eye on quality control. Either of these would be a great addition to your toolbox and easy to use on tinted windows. Just add a couple of tablespoons to your gallon of water and mix until the solution is smooth for gliding.
#3: Delicate Chemicals
Sprayaway Glass Cleaner, isopropyl alcohol, and even vinegar can be excellent additions to your toolbox for tinted windows. Sprayaway is a most versatile glass cleaner, for once you spray it on, it sticks and penetrates the dirt without causing harm to the tint, and can also be used for other hard surfaces. This easy-to-use push-button spray is not only safe for cleaning tinted windows, but mirrors, windshields, enamel surfaces, chrome, tile, porcelain, and more. It sprays a heavy-duty foam that clings to vertical surfaces and is guaranteed not to leave residue behind. In addition, this product contains perfume-grade alcohol to have a delicate yet effective outcome on glass. Vinegar works similarly but does not soak as well as Sprayaway, as it runs down faster due to its lower viscosity.
Patience is a virtue in this lifetime, and using it on the job can help save you from endless amounts of headaches. When working on your daily jobs, are you doing spot tests to find out if there is tint on the window? Have you asked your customer if they put tint on themselves, or had a service apply it? Did you check for bubbles in the tint? Is your solution slippery enough? Is there anything sticky on the glass that you’re struggling to remove? Don’t make hasty decisions. Using patience can be the most important “tool” on your belt. It prevents you from making foolish choices while cleaning and stops you from causing costly mistakes. When in doubt, take deep breaths. If something isn’t working immediately, do not use more pressure or aggressive motions. Generally, if something isn’t working, it is okay to walk away from it and reevaluate your tactics rather than tackle it and make a mess or ruin someone’s property.
With super sticky messes on tint, it’s advised to simply soak, soak, soak. Rehydrating these areas as much as possible can help lift them off with a slower, more mindful cleaning method. However, if you’re really struggling, Patience’s cousin, Honesty, will also come in handy here. If you’re finding that despite your greatest efforts, soaking and scrubbing the area isn’t helping, then you need to let the customer know. It is much better to have tried and failed than to have tried and sabotaged your work. Most of the time, customers will understand and appreciate that you’d instead leave their property intact and mostly clean than ruined. Be patient with not only the job at hand but with yourself, too.
#5: The Strange: Peanut Butter!
Are you ever hungry for a little snack while up on your ladder? Keeping peanut butter in your toolbox can not only curb your craving but, when applied to super sticky tape or glue, can be used as a polish to rub it away. The finely ground peanuts and the oil will help gently lift and moisturize the glue, rehydrating it and lifting it up off the glass. Wipe it away with a soft scrap towel, and be surprised! It’s odd, but it works.
Things that, Surprisingly? Don’t Work
#1: The Magic Eraser
The Magic Eraser feels so soft, doesn’t it? Well, believe it or not, the Magic of the Magic Eraser is melamine, which is a nitrogen-rich, organic base that, in its solid state, is an abrasive. This means that it can, in fact, scratch tint with even just a little bit of pressure. So, for tinted windows, keep this one in the toolbox.
There seems to be an argument on whether to use ammonia on tinted glass or not because people have had mixed results. However, because of this, we’ll say, leave it in the toolbox. Why would you want to risk it if some people have experienced etching? It is better to be safe than sorry. In addition, ammonia may be a fantastic chemical for breaking down grease, grime, and fingerprints on the glass when cleaning up restaurants or kitchen windows, but it can be a nightmare to use with tinted windows. It’s been known to cause discoloration to plastics by drying them out. It is simply too strong of a chemical to use on delicate tint. A mild soap and water solution is recommended.
Despite newspaper having a soft-to-the-touch feel, when it is crumpled up and rubbed on tinted glass, it doesn’t help in the same way that it would on normal glass. Instead, the sharp edges of the paper can pick up the tint if there are air pockets and cause unfortunate tears. Even paper towels are too abrasive, so stick to your trusty microfiber cloth for wiping clean and detailing these types of windows.
Still Have Questions?
Don’t sweat it! If there is anything you’re unsure about, want to learn more about, or need advice for, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Window Cleaning Resource is here for you 24/7, with the help of our super-friendly window cleaning experts.
Having owned their own window cleaning business, too, they have tons of information on window cleaning products, business tips, and more, even if you want to talk shop.
This equipment and HUNDREDS more products can be discovered on our fantastic Window Cleaning Resource platforms!
For product reviews, discussions, information, and more:
Shop professional-grade window cleaning products and more at WCR!
And most importantly - get out there, believe in yourself, work hard, and don’t forget - the rewards of this career are bountiful - so have fun!
Talk to you soon!
Your friendly professionals at Window Cleaning Resource
Window Cleaning Resource
How Can We Help You Today?