Still cleaning your windows with cold water? Then it could be time for a change

Many people are familiar with the song When I’m Cleaning Windows, famously sung by the ukulele-playing George Formby in 1936. In the past, window cleaning was a simple occupation, carried out using a ladder and a bucket filled with soapy water, but the business has moved on significantly since George Formby’s time.

The biggest change came ten years ago with the introduction of The Working at Height Regulations 2005. This legislation aimed to prevent falls from height, which are responsible for a major percentage of accidents at work. The window cleaning industry needed to adapt if deaths and injuries were to be reduced and it is now widely recognised that wherever possible window cleaning should be completed from the ground.

Professional window cleaners now use waterfed pole systems, with obvious benefits in terms of safety and easier access to hard-to-reach windows, but how do these systems work? The secret of excellent results using pole systems is pure water. Normal tap water is full of dissolved minerals which are not harmful to drink but when used to clean windows they leave spots and smears on the glass as the water dries. Pure water involves tap water going through a series of filters, each designed to refine water more than the previous one. The water is first softened, filtered and polished. Carbon filters remove chlorine and sediment and a technique called reverse osmosis forces water under pressure through a semi- permeable membrane to remove impurities. Special resins are used in the final stage of de-ionisation to reduce water to pure H2O. Window cleaners have traditionally used detergents but these leave a residue that dirt sticks to, whereas effective use of a pure water system gives much better results and a sparkling clean finish.

As with all industries, technology quickly develops to create better ways of working. The latest development in window cleaning is the use of hot water systems. These still use pure water but also heat the water for even better results. WR Limited, a company based in the Midlands specialising in taking care of leasehold developments was one of the first in the area to invest in a pole window cleaning system. Recently they have upgraded their systems to include the use of heated pure water. Director Linda Watson-Murfitt explains,
“We feel it is really important to keep up to date with changing technology and best practice. Heated pure water absorbs dirt and gives the best finish. We want our customers to get the best results for their money”

Choosing the right window cleaning company

As with any trade, a word-of-mouth recommendation from an existing customer is a very helpful way of finding out about a company’s reliability and quality of work. Before you engage with a new supplier or series of suppliers, draw up a specification of work that needs to be completed, along with the frequency of visits, perhaps more in the summer and fewer in the winter. In the future monitoring the quality of work of your contractor should be much easier, as there should be no misunderstanding as to the works required.

Value for money versus price

If you receive a quote that is very cheap compared with others it may be that the company has not allowed sufficient time for their staff to thoroughly clean windows. Less scrupulous window cleaners can place a brush on window panes without using the correct technique to actually clean the glass.

Does your quote include cleaning the frames or just the glass? The least expensive quote is not always the best value and it can create more work, such as time needed to deal with complaints from residents when they notice poor results.

Don’t forget health and safety

Reach and wash window cleaning involves the use of long hoses that can cause a trip hazard. Window cleaners can be tempted to climb over balconies, use ladders inappropriately or not take time to maintain equipment. Poorly maintained window cleaning equipment simply does not work. Water is purified with an expensive resin and requires regular testing as serious health conditions such as legionnaires disease can be caused by poorly maintained filter systems. Check whether the company has a health and safety accreditation such as CHAS or Safe Contractor.

Use the professionals

Professional organisations help companies keep up-to-date with changes in legislation, new technology and best practice. Professional window cleaning companies are often members of an organisation such as The Federation of Window Cleaners, The Master Guild of Window Cleaners or The British Window Cleaning Academy.