Ever wonder how a good, professional window cleaner is able to get windows perfectly clean in a quarter the time it takes you to do it yourself? And certainly if you hired a company worth its weight in soap bubbles, they didn’t leave the glass swirled like you did from paper towel and Windex. Keeping your auto glass window cleaner can be difficult, especially in a time of year when there is a ton of pollen and dust in the air.
Don’t get me wrong, after 10 years in the window cleaning business, I still use the “blue juice” from time to time, but usually on the inside of my truck windows that are curved and don’t allow for a squeegee, and on the bathroom mirror when I am too lazy to walk out and grab my window tools. But for anyone looking for the lowdown on how to get their home windows to look their best, here is a short how-to including some simple tricks of the trade.
1. Use a squeegee. Period. Although they come in incremental sizes from a few inches to several feet, a squeegee with a blade somewhere between 12 and 18 inches should suffice for washing most home’s windows. Although it takes more swipes with a smaller tool to clean the same amount of glass, I find that new window cleaners generally handle smaller squeegees more easily than large. A decent squeegee can be found at Home Depot or the like.
2. Simple household dish soap will do in most cases. In 9 homes out of 10 I use a few squirts of Joy, Dawn or similar to a couple gallons of hose water. How much is too much or too little? If you use too little, your squeegee won’t slide over the glass and if you use WAY too much, you will leave streaks and smears behind. A couple-second squeeze from a bottle should get you cleaning.
3. Clean with a sponge. Although I regularly use several different sizes, shapes, and textures of mops/applicators/strip-washers to apply the soapy water and remove the dirt, there is no reason a sponge shouldn’t do. If you do however, want to go the extra step and have already made the trip to the store for a squeegee, a 14 inch window “mop” is pretty standard. Unless you have windows with panes smaller than 14 inches this should suffice.
4. Dip the sponge deep and use plenty of soapy water on the glass. For the sake of the clean window however, resist the urge to slop water above the glass as it will continue to drip and run down the pane after you are done.
5. After you have thoroughly washed the glass, run the squeegee from one side to the other horizontally, working your way down the window. You will likely notice some water left on the side of the window you started on. There are several ways to deal with this, the simplest being leaving it until the next step and wipe it away with a towel. Otherwise, when the window is wet, before you squeegee, with a towel over one finger, run the finger vertically down the side of the window you intend to start at, leaving a clean, dry line from top to bottom. Now also wipe the rubber blade dry each time before running it across the glass. This method should take care of most of the problem.
6. Don’t underestimate the need for some good, cotton towels. THIS IS KEY! While the soap-water and squeegee should have removed the dirt and left the majority of the window sparkling, there will undoubtedly be small amounts of water left along the perimeters of the window. It is time for a clean, lint-free, cotton towel. This is NOT a normal bath towel. I realize that suggesting you order 20 pounds of surgical towels like I do is unrealistic, but find something similar. Think thin and preferably cotton.
In a pinch, paper towel will do though even that will leave lint behind on your windows. Regardless of the type of towel you use, the square inch that covers your finger when you wipe should be clean and dry every time it touches the window. Wipe, find a clean spot on the towel, wipe, find a clean spot, etc. When the clean, dry spots on the towel are used up, get a new one. On a small house I usually go through 8 or 10 towels and on larger ones, sometimes 30 or 40! A perfectly clean spot on a towel can remove any streaks or drips you have left behind.
Some helpful notes:
-Some messes on your windows can only be removed with a razorblade. The same store that sold you your other window tools, also probably sells a 4 inch scraper for windows. Certainly you can use any razorblade to remove stubborn junk from the glass, but make sure that the blade is new each time you use it because the smallest rust spots can ruin your windows.
-Squeegee rubber doesn’t last forever. Luckily, it is double sided. A worn or old rubber blade will leave streaks but luckily are meant to be both flipped over then replaced, regularly at a cost of only a dollar or two.
-Yes there is yet another method of using a squeegee that is much faster and leaves fewer streaks but it is admittedly a practiced art. The technique seems to have as many different names as there are window cleaners: swirl, super swirl, swing, or simply the “S” method to name a few. Regardless of the chosen name, the technique involves placing the squeegee on the glass and manipulating it back and forth in a swirling motion until all of the water is off the glass. Can you try it? Sure! There are plenty of videos online that show you how it’s done and before long I hope to have a complete “how to” section on my own website to help those that want to give cleaning their own windows a try.
Good luck in your trials. If you resign yourself to keep away from the blue juice and paper towels, you should find your cleaning project to not only require much less time, but also produce a much better finished product.
Let me know how it goes and if I missed anything here. You can hunt me down though my company website if you need help.
Now that your windows are clean, you ask, “what about my tracks and my screens?” Perhaps that content will be in another article or on the website before long. Get in touch with our car window cleaner for your vehicle.
Ryan Fritzsche is a small business owner in San Diego, California. He currently runs a one man residential window cleaning business, Clear Intentions Window Washing. And claims that he won’t rest until all of the city is convinced that he is unlike his competition. Learn more at http://www.ClearIntentionswindowwashing.com/
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