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technique

Window cleaning in the sun – a bad idea?

 

window cleaning in the sun

“Never clean windows in the sun!”

- That’s the advice given in many housekeeping magazines. But is it true?

For the general householder it is good advice, but a professional window cleaner cannot afford to be always dictated to by the weather.

Especially when using traditional methods, cleaning in the hot sun can cause problems so here are some tips to avoid the smears and shadows.

Shadows left on the window are caused by the solution drying before the squeegee blade can carry it away.

On overcast days you may soap up a few windows at a time and two or three minutes may pass before you squeegee them all clean. However, when the weather is warmer it is important to blade the window as soon as possible after it has been mopped to avoid leaving  shadows and streaks. Here are a few tips for getting good results even when window cleaning in the sun;

1. Only wet as many windows as you blade before the water dries.
It is best just to soap up one or two windows at a time so that the solution does not have chance to dry. The two handed technique of mopping and blading simultaneously is good in this situation because the solution is carried away almost immediately and doesn’t get chance to dry.

2. Use combination tools
When using a tradtional pole combination tools such as the Unger Vice Versa, Ettore Back Flip or Wagtail Flipper will save time switching tools.

3. Use more water
The most obvious tip is to use more water. Wetting the window more will give you more time to blade it before the solution dries. If you are using a water fed pole then you should rarely encounter problems unless the windows are really hot. – In which case the answer is to just use more water

4. Use less soap
Another practical tip is to use less soap if you use washing up liquid. The solution tends to evapourate quicker if you use too much soap and you will be more likely to leave  streaks.

5- Minimize detailing and use of cloths
Using a cloth on the window in the sun is a bad idea.  The less you use a cloth on the window for detailing the better. Sometimes you can do more harm than good when detailing causing smears with a cloth that are more noticeable than the original mistake.  Take care when using the squeegee to not miss bits in the middle of the window and practice your technique to minimize the amount of detailing necessary.

 

These tips should help you achieve good results when cleaning windows in the sun however, if non of the above work for you then use a water fed pole system with pure water!

Beginner’s Guide to Using Water Fed Poles

 

As with anything else, there is a learning curve to using a water fed pole system and getting consistently good results. This guide is based on my own findings and mistakes; I hope you will find it useful.

First and foremost, as long as the water you are using is totally pure, any spotting of the glass is going to be down to user error, so test your water at regular intervals – at least once a week. If the reading goes above a couple of parts per million, change the DI resin.
Spotting is going to be down to one of a few of things, which I will list here, along with the solutions to overcome them.

Dirty Frames
This is one of the main causes of spotting. On first cleans ensure you wash the top frame well before attempting the glass. If possible do all the house frames first, then go back and wash the glass once they have either dried or stopped dripping. Once this has been done, subsequent cleans are easy. Dirt hides on the top frame and pure water will seek it out and leave runs on the glass while they are still dripping.

Soap Residue
Soap residue in the window seals will cause spotting, the only way to avoid this is to rinse well, it may take a few cleans to completely remove the years of [detergent] from these seals.

Poor Quality Paintwork
Poor quality paintwork on the window frames will cause real problems. The best way to test the paint is to run your finger along the paintwork. If it leaves a white dusty mark on your finger you are going to have problems. [Wash the frames thoroughly first and then once they have dried go back to clean the glass, taking great care not to touch the top edge of the window frame.]

Very Dirty Glass
If you are doing a first initial clean and the glass hasn’t been cleaned in years, then firstly you should price accordingly. (Double for the first clean) Wash all windows and frames. Then go back to the beginning and do them again. However, just the glass this time, not the frames.

A Dirty Brush Head
Make sure that the brush heads are kept clean, where possible. Leave them soaking in pure water overnight or between jobs. It can help to add just a couple of spots (and I mean spots) of GlassGleam 3 to the water the brushes are left to soak in. Make sure you get rid of all GlassGleam soap residue when using on the first couple of windows, the glass will require a good rinse. Don’t leave brushes propped up against brick walls, it will pick up dust and transfer it to the glass. If you must leave it against a wall, make sure the head is turned away from the brickwork.

Bird Muck
This can be a problem to remove, especially if it’s baked on the glass. My advice is to do these windows first, soaking the offending stuff well. If it doesn’t come off on the first clean you can come back to it once the water has softened it a bit. You can always tilt the brush head a bit and use the edge of the brush to rub it off or get an extension pole with a scraper attached to it to remove it. (Never scrape dry glass, always wet it first ).

Sash Windows
These can cause problems as the water runs off the top sash onto the bottom window. I have found that the only sure way of preventing runs is to do all the top sashes, then when they are either dry or stopped dripping then do the bottom sashes.

Aluminium Frames
These can cause problems, especially if they are the painted sort and the paint has oxidised.   (again do the finger test). If there is oxidisation I would decline to do them with WFP as the water runs off them looking like milk. [If you do them using WFP, Wash the frames thoroughly first and then once they have dried go back to clean the glass, taking great care not to touch the top edge of the window frame.]

Air Vents
These vents are often situated directly above the glass and contain large amounts of dust and dirt. Avoid vents like the plague. If water gets inside these vents it will drip for ages leaving your nicely cleaned glass with dirty streaks. Well that’s the scarey bits over with.

Glass Type
There are two types of glass, hydrophilic and hydrophobic. Hydrophilic likes water the other doesn’t. Hydrophilic glass will allow the water to run off the glass as a sheet, the other just beads up and sits there! With hydrophilic glass, wash as normal along the top edge, down the sides and then all over. Finally take the brush to the top of the glass and lift it away by an inch or two, this allows the water jets to rinse pure water over the entire glass, rinsing away any remaining dirt. With Hydrophobic glass wash and be sure to rinse well. Some windows come out really well every time, others just never seem to dry without leaving spots.

Water Usage
You should aim for a flow rate of about a litre per minute from the brush head, this is enough to wash thoroughly and rinse well. An average 3 bedroom house should take about 20 litres of water (More on first cleans). Remember that pure water is what is making you your money, so don’t waste it by leaving brushes connected and spraying the precious stuff over the customers garden.

Safety

1. Beware of the wind blowing an unattended pole over.
2. Be aware of electric cables.
3. Be aware of your surroundings, its easy to step back into fish ponds or fall down steps whilst looking up.
4. Be aware of hoses trailing over footpaths etc, Joe Public will trip over anything – and then sue you. It’s a good idea to place a couple of high visibility cones [or matting] over you hoses.
5. Don’t use WFP on front doors. [If the customer opens the door whilst you are working, water will go all inside their hallway.]

Hoses
They have a mind of their own, they will get wrapped around everything, caught under everything and mysteriously get tied up when reeling them in. Use good quality stop connectors on the end of your hose, that way when you disconnect your pole the water gets shut off without having to run back to the van to switch everything off.

I hope this helps. Once mastered the water fed pole will greatly speed up window cleaning and make you more money than traditional methods. The big plus though is safety, you can’t fall off the ground!

Safe and Happy Cleaning
Dennis Taylor

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