This may not be very obvious to the average homeowner, but to a seasoned professional it is the number one concern when working on any home cleaning or home maintenance project. Let's face it, we're not spring chickens anymore. Instead of shaking off a sprained ankle in a few days, injuries can put us out for weeks. We can afford to be out of commission for more than a week. This is precisely why putting safety first should be a priority. Here are few ways to keep safety at the top of your list with window cleaning:
- Keep a clear workspace
- Move any knickknacks out of your way
- Allow for free movement and space to clean
When cleaning taller or higher windows you’ll probably need a ladder. This is definitely worth noting when talking about safety. Your day to day activities probably don't include using a ladder. Therefore, you should take extra care when using one. The idea here is simple. If you only use a ladder 2 or 3 times each year, you are at greater risk of an accident. Someone who uses a ladder on a daily basis has become comfortable with it and probably even created a routine around using it. Notes on ladder safety:
- Make sure the ladder is setup properly (see manufacturers recommendations)
- Don’t stand above a certain step (see man. recommendations)
- Remember to keep a good safe working condition surrounding the ladder
- Placement of the ladder - keep it flat, not on steps
Use the Right Tools
A common occurrence with homeowners is to use Windex with paper towels. It seems quick and easy but is not necessary the best option for achieving great results. The problem with Windex and paper towels is that they leave streaks and residue. Paper towels are typically rough by nature and if used on the wrong glass surface could leave scratches. For example, UV film coated indoor glass will do just that. You paid a lot of money for that coating, it would be sad to see it ruined by something so simple. For UV film, use a microfiber towel or a soft sponge.
The best cleaning solution is actually the simplest and cheapest. It is as easy as soap and water. Yes, sometimes the old ways never go out of style. Of course, the mixture matters as to not leave streaks with the soap. Tap water can work just fine but you'll have to add a little more soap to that mixture. Very fine filtered water is best since the impurities are gone and therefore leaving you a better end result. Soap breaks down the surface tension and will help the squeegee to do its work more effectively.
Another tool the professionals keep on their belt while working is steel wool. This is a miracle worker on stains like shotgun fungus or minor bugs. For stains you don't want to use a scraper on, steel wool can be a window cleaning saver. However, not just any steel wool will work. The right kind is "0000 Fine" (quadruple zero) so to not scratch the window. When you start to use this tool, always work on a test area first to make sure you won't do any permanent damage to the glass. A test area is an section of glass that is less noticeable where if you make a mistake, you can catch it before continuing your work to a more noticeable area.
Regular Cleaning Schedule
Of course, the most important practice is to make sure you put window cleaning on a scheduled basis. Paying attention to your windows on a scheduled timeframe will allow you to notice issues that come up quickly. You can handle these issues while they are still small and not bigger problems that will take more time and money to fix.
The best practice is to stick to the seasons. When a new season comes around, that's the perfect time to schedule a window cleaning. In Florida, there isn't a lot of fluctuation in temperature, but minor fluctuations along with heavy rain and hurricanes will cause your windows to expand and contract. Lifting the windows each season gives you a direct view of what is happening with your home. You can not only clean out the tracks but also make sure the locks, levers, moving mechanisms and alarm systems are in working order. By doing this you are extending the number of quality years you will get out of your windows.
Another aspect to consider when thinking about why you should schedule window cleaning is the build up of rust, grime and mold. This happens when you don't move your windows for an extended period of time. Think about it like not driving your car for 6 months. When you go to start it up, you will probably have some problems getting it to run smoothly at first. When it comes down to it, the mechanics of your windows, if you aren't using them all on a weekly basis, need to be worked out so they will function properly.
While this is not an exhaustive list of window cleaning best practices, it will definitely get you off to the right start. Great results come from great practice.