How to clean windows quickly and easily

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by Tom Watson on May 5, 2013

When I added washing windows to our cleaning portfolio I thought it would be a breeze. Wet window then wipe clean!

I had good reason to think that. After all, whenever I saw professional window washers working they made it look so easy.

But for some reason when I went out and tried cleaning windows they didn’t come out so good. The widows didn’t get completely clean AND they had streaks. Needless to say, it was depressing!

Best window washing techniques

Luckily for me I stumbled across an old-timer who was cleaning a bunch of plate-glass and asked him for some advice. What he told me forever changed my approach, and in the process made it much easier. The first thing he told me was to make sure I was using the RIGHT TOOLS.

He basically said professional grade tools lead to professional results, which makes sense to me. So before we can discuss the best window washing technique, we need to cover the tools of the trade as they say. Your basic window cleaning supply kit begins with a high quality squeegee.

Window squeegee’s come in all different sizes. Having a complete collection of several that range from 6″ to 16″is highly recommended once you have a few jobs under your belt. This way you can have the right squeegee for just about any size window. The squeegee itself should be made out of a professional quality brass or stainless steel, as that will allow it to last a lifetime.

Next up you will need an applicator so you can spread the cleaning solution onto the window. This cloth applicator can be on the opposite side of the squeegee blade or another tool in and of itself, it just depends on the kit you purchase.

After that you will need a scraper of some kind. This is really just a flat edge blade in a casing of some kind to protect your hand from getting cut. This tool is great for removing stickers, old tape or any other type material that is stuck to the window.

From there you will need a window bucket with a wide enough opening to accommodate the wide applicator that you will be dipping into the cleaning solution. Having the right bucket is a time-saver, as you won’t have to dip the applicator in one half at a time each time you need to place it in the bucket.

A few microfiber cloths will also be needed. This is key because you don’t want to leave any lint on the window you spent so much time cleaning, and the microfiber works great for this purpose.

Rounding out your window kit will be an extension pole, this is great for reaching the upper parts of a window you can’t get to yourself. These poles come in different sizes, so having a few would be a nice option once you can afford it.

If you are looking for a pro quality window cleaning kit, check out the Unger Pro Window Cleaning Kit with 8 Ft. Pole, Scrubber, Squeegee, Scraper, Sponge. This is the exact same kit I have been using for many years. In fact I have several sets at this point, and I’m very pleased with them.

After making sure you have the proper window cleaning supplies, making sure you use the proper technique is next. You’ll start by filling your bucket with water. Make sure the water is either cool or lukewarm then simply add a little dose of dish washing soap.

From there make sure the window and the frame is clear of any debris (cobwebs etc…). Now you’ll want to place the applicator in the bucket then remove. Allow the excess solution to drain off naturally for a moment then start scrubbing the window.

You may need to use the scraper on anything that is still stuck to the window (like tape or stickers). You do want to be careful when using the scraper. To do so just make sure the window stays wet when scraping to avoid damage to the glass.

To get a streak free window here is the secret the old-timer shared with me. He indicated that whenever the rubber squeegee touched the glass, it needed to be DRY. So for best results you will need to make sure to wipe the rubber blade dry with a rag before hand. The next tip was to start at the top of the glass and go straight down to the bottom.

Then use the same rag (or a collection of clean DRY rags) to DRY THE RUBBER after each and every pass you make on the window. This will dramatically improve how well the finished product looks when complete! Repeat the process until you are done the job and BINGO, you have a truly clean plate of glass.

To clean up the loose ends grab your microfiber cloths and go around the edges of the window to remove any drips of water that are remaining. You will get better over time, so don’t beat yourself up too much the first time out. There is a little skill involved, but you’ll get the hang of it real quick with practice.

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DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase any items through my links odds are I’ll earn a commission of some kind. I only recommend products and services that I have used or think may be useful to those starting or operating a cleaning business.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom Brown May 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

What are your thoughts on specializing or at least just starting with a residential window washing business?

2 Tom Watson May 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Hi Tom! Nothing wrong with that idea. If where you live is warm all year round you could just do that and make a decent living. In colder areas it’s more of a 3 season type deal. Anyway… you could start there and add house cleaning or commercial cleaning in later. The good part would be the “quick cash” aspect of it all. If you got on a roll you could make some really good coin.

3 Francisco May 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I can’t agree any more with you Tom adding window washing to our portfolio has added extra income for us.

thanks for the grate tips!

4 Tom Watson May 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Thanks Francisco!

5 Don May 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

After reading about the window cleaning I realized how much sense it makes.
My question is, is there a formula on how much to charge per window?

Thanks,

Don

6 Tom Watson May 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hi Don!

Rates are all over the place per window. My advice would be this… spend an hour cleaning windows in your home. See how many you can do in an hour, then go from there. Lets say you did 4 tilt-in windows in and out. Lets also say you wanted to earn $40 per hour performing this service. In this case you would just divide by 4 (40/4 = $10.00 per window).

So from there if you stumbled across a home that had 20 windows, you could assume it would take about 5 hours (you can do 4 windows per hour) to clean them (assuming the same window type etc…). That would bring you to 5 hours X $40.00 = $200.00 charge to the customer. That would be a simple way if only you were doing the work. Odds are you would also need to add state sales tax (depending where you live).

7 oluwafemi julius May 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Tom you are doing a great work. Each time go through your posts i found them hihly expository and professionally helpful for every upcoming cleaners. More grease to your elbows. Julius.

8 Tom Watson May 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Thanks Omoyemi! I appreciate the kind words.

9 Magano May 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Thanks Tom, i really appreciate your effort. Now that i read about the secret to cleaning windows i am actually thinkin of adding window cleaning to my cleaning bussiness. Thanks, Magano from Windhoek (Namibia).

10 Tom Watson May 6, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Hi Magano! Good luck!!

11 Brenda May 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I’m also thinking adding window cleaning to my cleaning business too :). Thank for the idea, Tom hopefully to have it up and running by September 2013

12 Tom Watson May 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Hi Brenda! Sounds good. Keep us posted!

13 Tracy Mason May 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Great article Mr. Tom! Thanks for all of your information on here! Glad I found your website!

14 Tom Watson May 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Hi Tracy! Well I’m glad you found us too! Touch base if you need anything.

15 Window Cleaning Isle Of Skye May 15, 2013 at 5:51 am

My Dear Friend your thoughts Cheaper and good for this work and i am just starting a window washing business?

16 Tom Watson May 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Hi! Cheap and good is fine as long as you are earning a profit that makes it worth your time. Good luck with it!

17 Candy Hill June 17, 2013 at 10:18 am

Yep. gonna add that to my business too. Thanks Tom.

18 Tom Watson June 17, 2013 at 10:25 am

Windows can be some real BONUS money. If you are already there, and they trust you to clean… then they will trust you to do more services! You may not always get the bonus cash, but you certainly won’t if you don’t offer the service!

19 Lamar Saunders September 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

What window solution do you use?

20 Tom Watson September 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Hi Lamar! Sometimes we just make our own, but usually we use solutions from Spartan Chemical. They are a nationwide firm that has distributors all over the place. Look for them, as they are a good company.

21 trudy February 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

hi tom
i`m down and out in finding a job right now ,so i was thinking about starting my own cleaning business.i am so glad that i found your sites it has giving me a lot of information in how to get started thank you .In this site window cleaning seems to be a great add on to your basic cleaning job,only one problem for me is window cleaning outside with 2 or more stories would be hard for me being i have little money to start out with i would have to invest in ladders and a truck big enough to carry them.so window cleaning for me would only be for the inside would it still be a good idea to add to my basic cleaning as an extra just doing the inside windows
thanks tom again for the help you have offered on your sites it`s greatly appreciated all this information ,I`m not as scared now to try this cleaning business on my own

22 Tom Watson February 29, 2016 at 9:34 am

Hi Trudy! You could probably do just first floor outside windows with nothing more than a cheap window cleaning kit. That is your best bet for getting jobs and keeping the cost down..

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