The Joy of Clean Windows
Clean windows are an essential source of beauty in a home. If Keats is right that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever,” then we can find joy in something as simple as clean windows. Not only is the glass itself more beautiful when clean and sparkling, but it illuminates the natural beauty of a home’s interior. It also refreshes the old familiar view outside. And this is reflected with a hint of glee in the homeowner’s eyes once our work is done. There is a subtle boost in joy and we feel it every day at the end of each job.
Window cleaning has been the hallmark of our business since its founding and it still is. We take great care with every pane and aim for a perfect, streak-free clean with every window. It’s harder than it looks. There are two main methods:
6-S Window Cleaning
This is our standard operating procedure for most windows.
1. Soap – using a water and soap solution
2. Scrub – on especially dirty windows, this is done with fresh, #0000 steel wool
3. Squeegee – using a fresh squeegee at nearly every job
4. Streak-check – running down the edges and corners with a clean dry rag
5. Sash & Sill Wipe – cleaning up that dirty water is as important as cleaning the window
6. Screen wipe – if there is one
Deionized Water-Fed Pole Window Cleaning
When the conditions are right, we clean windows with a newer system. The deionized water-fed pole method has become an important tool in modern window cleaning. It leaves a more affordable streak-free clean without using ladders. This works quite well with vinyl and aluminum-framed windows, but not as well on many older windows (such as true leaded-glass panes). It can’t be used for interior windows. Screens will also need to be removed prior to cleaning.
- Track cleaning (the areas exposed when the windows or doors are opened)
- Screen scrub & wash
- Removable grids or muntins
- Paint (or construction debris) removal
Along with the regular windows and doors around the perimeter of the house, we also clean skylights, deck railing glass, exterior lamps, glass doors within the home, glass cabinets, and mirrors. We will list these separately on any quote we send.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you use drop-cloths and wear shoe-covers when doing the interior windows?
Yes. We use drop-cloths over carpeted areas and furniture that is not easily movable. We also wipe up any drips from hardwood and tile floors. And yes, we always wear shoe-covers when entering a home.
What about my UV ray film?
UV ray film is becoming a rarity these days in the Seattle area, but we still find it on some older panes. It can only be cleaned with soap and squeegees. No abrasive should ever be used on it no matter how dirty it is. While we are pretty good at spotting it, we really appreciate being notified of its existence before beginning a job.
Will the steel wool scratch my glass?
Steel wool (#0000) or brass wool is used by all premier residential window cleaning companies to remove all those bits of organic material missed by every other scrubbing device. As the steel wool is softer than glass, it cannot scratch it, and has the huge advantage over razor blades in that it rolls over any microscopic fabricating debris (see the next FAQ for more on this). Sand, dirt, and concrete particles can scratch glass when trapped on anything dragged across the glass (whether a squeegee, steel wool, or a rag). This is why we use fresh steel wool, squeegees, and rags on each job. Please be advised: while steel wool and brass wool will not scratch glass, other cleaning abrasives, like SOS pads, will absolutely scratch it and must never be used to clean it.
Will you use razor blades?
When we clean windows, we use razor blades sparingly and never on tempered glass, which tends to be mottled with microscopic fabricating debris. These tiny bits of glass debris come from the rollers used in the manufacturing process and are easily nicked off by razors, leaving scratch marks behind that are especially visible in sunlight. Tempered glass is usually marked as such in a corner and are installed (per construction code) in places where the glass could easily be broken. It is found in and near doors, over bathtubs, in showers, on staircases, in skylights, on any pane near to the ground, among other places.
I have stickers. Can you remove them?
Yes. We will remove a few stickers free of charge, but will need to add an additional charge for more than that.
Do you move objects away from the windows before cleaning them?
If the objects or furniture are easily movable and present no risk of breakage we are happy to move them for you and replace them. If there are many small objects in front of the windows, it really helps us do our job more efficiently if they are moved beforehand.
What about construction cleaning?
We no longer take on new construction window cleaning, though we can make some exceptions for existing customers.
How often should I have my windows cleaned?
If having and keeping clean windows is your goal, then we recommend cleaning your windows four times per year. A common request is to have both inside and out cleaned once or twice per year and the exteriors cleaned quarterly.
Why are my windows foggy?
Fog is a common problem in double-paned thermal windows. When they are made, the air (or gas) between the panes is sealed in. If the seal breaks, the gas leaks out and moisture leaks in. This causes fogging in the window. Unfortunately, the best remedy for fixing this problem is to replace the window. However, before you go throwing good money away, you should first check with the installing contractor or manufacturer to see what warranties exist on your windows. The big national brands often come with excellent warranties as do one or two local brands.
I need to replace some windows or skylights. Do you have any recommendations?
While each homeowner will need to tailor any purchase to their budgeting and taste requirements, we do have some general recommendations from a maintenance standpoint:
- Because of the all-too-common problem of leaky seals and foggy windows, make sure you get a lifetime warranty from a company with the staying power to back it up.
- Acrylic, vinyl, or plastic skylights (or windows) should always be avoided. Sometimes, particularly in skylights, they are installed for safety to protect against falling limbs. However, be advised that sap (and other dirty stuff) is impossible to remove without doing damage to the skylight. In our estimation, acrylic skylights are installed without any thought of future maintenance and almost always disappoint the homeowner within a few years.
- For cleaning access, screens should be removable from the outside. Most are, but a few odd brands allow inside-only removal. These add time and cost to cleaning.
- If you want more energy efficiency, pay the extra for argon (krypton, xenon, etc.) thermal windows with low-emissivity coating between the panes. Don’t buy regular panes with a view to applying UV ray film after. Even the best film doesn’t clean well after a year or two. And if you do happen to buy the film, never have it applied to the window exterior.