photo by Christopher Finch
What is the Best Way to Wash Windows?
In the world of window cleaning, many types of tools, techniques, and substances are used daily to achieve cleaning goals. Professionals tackle residences, storefronts, and even large commercial properties, all while adding their own personal flare to it.
But, you’ve come to this page because you’re wondering what the best way is. Well, window cleaners alike have heard plenty of the wacky methods and old wives’ tales for washing windows that just don’t quite seem to cut it, such as:
“I just pour a little vinegar on some balled-up newspaper and rub it all over the glass. Sure, it disintegrates in my hands, and the ink stains my skin to the high heavens, but look at that shine!”
“I use a mixture of corn starch, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar. The customers hate the smell, but the glass is crystal clear.”
“I just got a window cleaning robot! Sure, it can’t take out a set of storm windows or do anything about French Panes, but I feel like George Jetson!”
There are excellent methods for washing windows that get lost in the sea of content of methods that stink (some, quite literally). In this week’s article, we’re going to talk about the best ways to wash windows that don’t involve:
2. Kitchen tools
3. The obituaries from last Sunday
… and we’ll talk about the methods that do involve:
1. Proper tools
2. Ideal technique
3. Help from the experts at WCR!
So, let your dad read the paper in peace! Let’s dive in on the best ways to wash windows.
The Two Types: Traditional & Water Fed
Two types of window cleaning have brought success to thousands of cleaners: they are traditional and water fed.
Traditional cleaning methods involve applying soapy water to a window, scrubbing with a sleeve, abrasive, or scraper, and wiping clean with a squeegee. Water fed window cleaning consists of a brush attached to a water fed pole, which is then connected to a purification system that runs pure water up to the top through a thin hose. The purified water then streams out of the brush’s jets and onto the glass, leaving a spotless, clear shine.
Both methods are revered and loved by window cleaners worldwide, and one is not necessarily better than the other. They both come in handy in different scenarios. For example, if you’re looking to clean a customer’s home or a single-level storefront, traditional window cleaning equipment would be a good choice, as you wouldn’t need to reach windows that were at an extraordinary height. Water-fed window cleaning is an excellent method for cleaning tall buildings, as you can purchase poles that can get up to 90 feet without needing a ladder.
Some would say one is better than the other for numerous reasons. For example, some find it safer to do water fed as you don’t need a ladder, cleaner as you won’t fear leaving soap residue on the windows, and more flexible for obtaining higher-paying jobs. The benefits of traditional, however, are that it is less expensive to start, the tools are easier to transport, and neater when working on interiors. Both methods, however, are great to know how to do and just another excellent skill to have in your arsenal!
Best Methods for Traditional
Traditional window cleaning methods are tried and true and have been prominent since 1936 when the use of the squeegee was born. Different climates call for different approaches. For example, if the environment is hot and arid, it may be best to clean the windows early in the morning or in the evening when the sun is down. For cold climates, it is better in the middle of the day, when the sun can keep the window cleaner and the glass warm. Different measurements of soap go in the solution, and other chemicals will be added to either quicken or slow the evaporation rate.
However, when starting with traditional window cleaning, no matter what the climate, it is ideal for one to begin with the basics. Utilizing a simple solution of water and dish soap with a ratio of ½ a tablespoon of soap to 1 gallon of water, a strip washer, a squeegee, and an extension pole will get you where you need to be. To clean windows effectively, you’ll want to ensure you’re cleaning when the sun is not directly on the glass, as it will dissolve the liquids too fast and leave soap residue. If you have no choice, using a lubricating chemical such as Cliche Chemicals Hi Slide can help your solution not dry out. When soap solution dries too quickly and leaves residue on the glass, it gets filthier quicker due to the fat from the soap attracting dirt. Not to mention, dried-on soap makes the window cleaner’s job look unfinished, as streaks or marks are visible to the customer. Although it might not always be possible, try to scrub down the windows in the shade.
Utilizing a straight pull squeegee method once you’ve scrubbed the dirt up from the glass is the most straightforward squeegeeing technique yet. It is a tried and true method that works no matter what. Many people find the fanning method an upgrade from the straight pull, as you can wipe more surface area of the glass more efficiently. However, whatever works best for you is what we recommend. If you find that fanning is taking away rather than giving to your workflow, keep the straight pull going. You’ll become faster the more you practice. The most important thing is a job well done.
Best Methods for Water Fed
Water fed window cleaning is the “new wave” of window cleaning that was popularized in the 1960s. It’s a different style of window cleaning, and many would argue it’s an upgrade from traditional. Many folks feel that any task you can do traditionally, you can do with water fed, but with more efficiency and at greater heights. In addition, there’s no need for soap, and the purified water leaves the windows free of any spots that come from unfiltered, mineral-dense water. There are other aspects you need to keep in mind when cleaning in the style of water fed, such as having a large enough vehicle for the equipment, maintaining the cost of replacing things like DI resin, and ensuring you have enough water pressure to reach the heights you need.
Every business will cost you money to maintain. Many say that with water-fed window cleaning, your costs will get paid off faster than traditional, for you’ll be able to take bigger jobs such as large commercial buildings.
Regarding climate, it may not be as challenging to use the water-fed method as the traditional one. When it’s cold, keep your water running, so it doesn’t freeze inside the pole hose. Heat will often radiate from the inside of the building being worked on, keeping the water warm enough, so it doesn’t freeze on the glass. Scrubbing more and adding isopropyl alcohol to your water, if you use something like the XERO Pure Pack to store your purified water, will help it evaporate fast, minimizing the time it spends drying and preventing freezing.
Water fed window cleaning requires a bristle brush with jets, a water fed pole, a standard 5/16” water fed hose, a standard garden hose, a TDS meter for measuring the minerals, and a purification system. Having a pump handy will help you with taller buildings and allow you to take more significant jobs. Scrubbing top to bottom, then side to side, making sure to scrub the frames, then allowing the window to drip-dry is how most window cleaners approach water fed. It is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and some say it requires less technique than traditional. It is good to get acquainted with both - you never know what will come at you on the job!
The Bottom Line
Since different jobs require different techniques and nothing is one-size-fits-all, sometimes traditional window cleaning surpasses what water fed can do, and vice versa. However, everything in window cleaning has its place, and knowing many techniques will help you in the long run. Whether it’s the traditional way you prefer or water fed that’s your style, each type of window cleaning method is suitable for different jobs, and you could consider trying out both. See if a friend or associate has a water fed setup you could test out. Or, if that’s where you started, find a traditional cleaner! Whichever way floats your boat will set you up for significant success. And remember, Window Cleaning Resource is always here for you if you have questions, so give us a shout when you’re in doubt!
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.
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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!
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