Common Mistakes Window Cleaners Make

Starting a window cleaning business is, hands down, one of the best businesses to start – and also one of the most enjoyable. The work is fun, the money is good (if you are a speedy window cleaner) and best of all, it requires little capital compared to other businesses.

There are several ways to get started. The two main ways are: learning from an old pro, and just jumping in with no prior experience. I chose the latter because I had no one to teach me, and because I needed work pronto – that is if I wanted a roof over my head, anyways. Learning something on your own has it’s benefits, but believe me when I say that I have made all the mistakes you can make in the window cleaning biz.

This article will let you take a shortcut. Instead of having to make all the mistakes I have made, you can cut straight to the head of the class and start learning the advanced material.

Mistake #1: Not recognizing tempered glass. This one’s a doozy. When I first started cleaning windows, I mainly did storefronts. What I didn’t know, and would soon come to find out, is the existence of tempered glass. You see, tempered glass is a special kind of glass that is supposed to be more safe. Instead of breaking into large shards, which could potentially impale someone, it will bust up into a million tiny pieces. It is primarily installed on front doors and the panels to either side. This is done in case someone trips while they are leaving and slams into the glass.

The relevance to window cleaning is that this special kind of glass needs to be handled differently from sturdier forms of glass. For instance, it cannot be safely scraped with a razor blade, or scrubbed with steel wool. Fortunately, it is marked with a sticker indicating it is tempered. Unfortunately, the sticker is very small and can be entirely overlooked. Fortunately, you can usually figure out which panels are tempered because they include the storefronts door and the panels immediately adjacent to the door.

Mistake #2: Treating interior and exterior windows the same. When I first started cleaning windows, I approached the interior and exterior windows with the same cleaning technique. What I soon realized is these need different approaches.

Firstly, the exterior windows are much dirtier. The dirt is often much more caked on and, additionally, they often need scraping or scrubbing with an abrasive white pad. Because the exterior and interior windows have different degrees of grime, window cleaning supply manufacturers make different scrubber sleeves for them. I would recommend getting a sleeve with some abrasive material woven into it. Pulex’s micro-tiger sleeves is one of the most popular for cleaning tough exterior windows. For interior windows, you can get a softer more absorbent sleeve.

Secondly, the amount of water that you use needs to be adjusted for interior and exterior windows. With exterior windows, you can get them really wet and sloppy ( to loosen the dirt) and not have to worry about water cascading all over the place. However with interior windows, you need to be much more careful with how much water you are putting on the windows and in how you will be collecting the falling water.

I didn’t realize this when I was first cleaning windows. However when customers got freaked out when I had water dripping all over the place, I quickly learned how to correct this problem. What I learned is that you need to really thoroughly squeeze the excess water off of the window scrubber before you scrub/wet the windows and also you will want to place an absorbent cloth on the window ledge to catch the water coming down (you can use a bath towel or better yet a PVA cloth such as a Shamwow, or an Aquadry – these can be wrung out and used over and over again).

A great window cleaning tip is to use a 5 gallon bucket on the inside of the house. Although I use a window cleaning bucket with a sieve on the outside of the building, I find that a five gallon buck works better on the inside. It is less likely to slosh around and spill solution, and it is more maneuverable around the house. Plus since you will be hand-wringing out your scrubber with each use, you don’t need a sieve.

Mistake #3: Mixing up a solution with too much foam. I did this all the time when I first started window cleaning. I used dish soap and also professional window cleaning detergent, but I found that to get enough glide on my squeegee, I had to mix it up heavy. The problem was that I was having to deal with a lot of foam. Later I learned that it is better to use less soap and add a wetting agent of you need more glide (ex: Winsol Super Slip). I also like to use Trisodium Phosphate which has a lot of glide but doesn’t create any foam.


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