Pure Water

Here is a tool that you might not have thought about for cleaning windows.

Pure water

I don't mean water alone, or just water but rather purified water, specifically, de-ionized water. 

When regular tap water is sprayed onto glass and allowed to dry, everything that is in the water is left behind on the glass when the water evaporates. The things we as window cleaners are most concerned with is the minerals as they can build up on and bond to the glass forming hard water stains.

I've heard many times here in Redding "we have really hard water" but the truth is, we have better than average water hardness. The mineral content in water is measured in TDS or Total Dissolved Solids. The national average in the US is about 200 parts per million (ppm) with some locations measuring up to 400-500 ppm. The highest we've ever measured in Redding was 114 ppm.

Even though we have lower than average, anything above 000 ppm will start to leave water spots, and the more water that is allowed to hit a window and dry and for the longer this happens the worse the water stains become.

We therefore use a De-ionizing filter to filter the minerals out of the water before it is fed into our Water Fed Pole (WFP) to clean windows. The pure water comes out of the filter, is fed into our 150' of hose that connects to a brush on the end of our carbon fiber pole (it needs to be carbon fiber because at 32' long it would be too heavy and floppy if it was made of aluminum or fiber glass) and comes out 4 pencil jets in the middle of the brush.

With this set up, cleaning a window is rather straight forward, we scrub the window while the water is being fed through the brush and this dissolves and dislodges the dirt and gets it off the surface of the glass. Once things have been sufficiently scrubbed we lift the brush head off the glass and rinse the glass from top to bottom, making sure to rinse every square inch. The pure water washes the dirt off the glass and since the little bit of water left on the surface of the glass is pure, it is left to dry on its own and won't leave any spots since there is nothing in the water to be left behind.

We had one customer that I remember, he expressed concern that we weren't squeegeeing the water off the window. I explained how the tools worked and he took my word for it and I got back to work. Later on in the job as some of the first windows we had done finished drying he commented (with amazement) at how clear they were. He was surprised and how clean they could become with just water (though not JUST water, de-ionized water) 

We love the WFP for a few reasons, most of all because it allows us to access windows up to 35' high, but also to access those and lower windows without having to use a ladder, and that means we are much safer.

The use of a WFP and pure water is not the answer to every problem. The brush for one is not the most powerful scrubber in our arsenal, and so on very dirty windows it can't get them as clean as we can when we clean them by hand, but if the windows were cleaned last year or more recently it does a stellar job making those windows shine.

Thanks for reading and if you live in Shasta County and need your windows cleaned, your gutters cleaned, or your screens repaired, don't hesitate to give us a call.

The Paintbrush

The Paintbrush

What would a window cleaner need with a paint brush? 

We're glad you asked, the paint brushes primary purpose for us is to clean out the dust and debris in the outside window tracks. A quick dusting away of the dirt makes it a lot easier to clean out the track rather than cleaning up a muddy mess after the water from the window has dripped down. 

The paintbrush also makes a great spider killer, web remover, screen duster, and great to dust off the feet of our ladder before we take it inside.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

The Screwdriver

Our next tool in this series is the flat head screwdriver. Despite it's name we hardly ever use it for screws, mostly it fulfills three purposes

First, a Flathead screwdriver is a great tool to take window screens out from the outside. Many times a home owner has come around the corner and were surprised that we already had the screen out and were cleaning the window. It seems that many people think the only way to take out a screen is from inside.

Second, the Flathead is a great tool to get the dirt and dust out of the outside window track when a towel can't get it out, it works just like a tiny shovel.

Third, the Flathead, when wrapped with our detailing towel, is great at getting that last bit of cleaning solution that the squeegee can't get to when, as some windows have, there is a small overlap preventing the squeegee from getting all the way to the edge.

There are a million more uses, but we won't go into that now.

Join us next time for our next tool: The paint brush

The Razor

Our next window cleaning tool of the trade is the razor blade. Window cleaners need razor blades to get certain stuck on materials off the glass more efficiently. Things like baked on bird poop, or paint splatter, tree sap and things like that often require that extra bit of oomph that a mop or a scrubbing pad can't quite deliver. 

There are a few varieties in the types of razor blades we use, most commonly in day to day use we would use our 1 inch scraper blade.

 

For larger jobs, different manufacturers make various sizes to help a job get done more quickly.

Here is a 6 inch razor blade.

Whenever you use a razor blade on glass you want to make sure to never do two things. First, you never want to rub back and forth with a blade on the glass. Small bits of debris can get caught under the blade and can scratch the glass when the blade is pulled backward. Second, you never want to use a razor blade on dry glass, you really need the lubrication that water and soap provide to make sure to not scratch the glass. Even when you follow these two rules, it is still possible to scratch glass with a razor blade, so before you put blade to glass make sure you are okay with any possible consequences.

Join us next time for: The Flathead Screwdriver

The Bucket

Welcome to the blog...

Today I continue with the tools of the trade, the bucket.

Since most window cleaners use the mop as we covered previously, they need a place to wet and clean their mop and a bucket filled with our cleaning solution is the logical answer. But for many window cleaners, a plain old 5 gallon bucket isn't what they are looking for. 

Here is a window cleaners bucket, I believe which holds up to 6 gallons of solution

The elongated shape allows mops up to 22 inches to be completely submerged. 

There is a more interesting bucket specifically for window cleaners and it's called a bucket on a belt. The BOAB allows us to carry a small amount of our window cleaning solution into a house, along with our mop and 2 or 3 squeegees, without worrying that we or the dog will knock over a regular bucket and ruin our customers floor.

This is just one more of the tools that allow us to clean windows as a professional, doing a thorough job quickly and effectively. Visit us next time for: The Razor Blade 

The Towel

Now our next tool of the trade is the humble towel. Before rubber squeegees were invented, window cleaners simply cleaned the windows with towels, I can imagine how much more work that would be, one would either have to use A. a lot more towels per day or B. simply not do as good of a job since cleaning a window with a damp towel leaves all sorts of smears.

Window cleaners use towels to clean any water left on the edges of the glass or the window frame and sill (called detailing). The requirements for a good towel are simply that it be absorbent and mostly lint free.

There are a million different towels that COULD be used, though there are only about 5 types that are regularly used by professional window cleaners.

1. Cotton towel - The humble bathroom towel, these towels work well once they have been washed and dried several times (to remove the lint) a large bath towel might be used as a drop cloth, or the hand towel works as a good detailing towel, they are fairly absorbent and relatively inexpensive.

2. Chamois - Often used for automotive detailing, I've never used one personally but I've included it because I know there are a fair amount of window cleaners that do.

3. Microfiber towel - Not often used for cleaning the frames and sills, these are often used for detailing the glass itself because they can be incredibly absorbent and rarely leave smears. 

4. Scrim - I hear these are the go to detailing towel in the UK (the birthplace of window cleaning). They are large hemmed pieces of Irish line. Some window cleaners claim they can detail a whole house with one scrim (I've come close) and that they still work well even when damp.

5. Surgical/huck towels - These are the most popular towel for window cleaners, they are highly absorbent, just the right size and you can just "huck" them in the truck when they get too wet/dirty.

Thanks for reading, join us next time for: The Bucket

The Mop

Welcome to the blog, we're happy to have you.

This week we continue our series on the tools of the trade with "The Mop" 

This tool really could have been the first post since you have no need for a squeegee without a way to get the window clean and scrub it, that's what the window cleaners mop is for.

Here is the standard mop that I use.

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The mop only has two components, the handle (or T bar) and the sleeve (or scrubber)

 

Here are three different sized T bars and sleeves, a 10 inch 14 inch and 18 inch, they make as small as 6 inch and as large as 22 inch (at least commonly, there are some crazy 30 inch mops, but you can't get the whole thing or even half of it in a bucket so I don't see the point)

On every window I pull out my mop to wet and scrub the window, I may use some other secondary scrubbing devices but every window starts with the mop, It's an indispensable tool of the trade.

There are two other versions of the mop, first is a mop and squeegee combo that many different manufacturers make with a mop on one side and a squeegee on the other. The purpose of this tool is for cleaning tall windows with an extension pole. Since both tools are in one, you don't have to waist time scrubbing the window, pulling down the pole, taking off the mop, attaching the squeegee and then squeegeeing the glass. By the time you do, especially in summer, the water may have dried leaving the windows dirtier than before. Since both tools are attached you simply scrub, turn it around and then squeegee.

The other combo tool is made by the company Wagtail from Australia. It has a thin pad that flips over the squeegee and after scrubbing the glass you simply flick the pad back and squeegee the glass. It also is designed to pivot so that you can use the fanning technique to clean the glass in one fluid motion.

So this tool is quite simple, but it is essential to window cleaning and we couldn't do it (at least as well or as quickly) without it.

Check back in next week for our next tool: The Towel

-Ben / Two Guys Window Cleaning

 

New Series - The Tools Of The Trade

Hi,

This is Ben, Owner of Two Guys Window Cleaning, I thought since I'm going to be doing this blog that a fun topic would be to explore and explain the different tools of the trade. You may think that there are not that many tools involved in window cleaning but you may be surprised, I have a pickup truck FULL of tools and I use almost all of them at least once a week. So to inaugurate our series we'll start with the most iconic window cleaning tool: The Squeegee.

 

The modern squeegee was invented by ettore steccone nearly a century ago and in principle has changed very little.

here is a picture of the classic brass squeegee

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The squeegee has three parts, the handle, the channel, and the rubber, all three can be disassembled and replaced if necessary, though it's primarily just the rubber that is changed frequently.

Squeegees come in all sorts of different sizes and sizes and styles for all sorts of different window situations. I use a 6 inch squeegee for small windows or finishing small details.

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here are several squeegees with different lengths and handles

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There are primarily two ways to hold the rubber in the channel so it doesn't move whan you're working. First, there are clips that pinch the rubber and are then squeezed into the channel. These are simple and effective at holding the rubber still but are difficult and time consuming when changing the rubber. The second method involves slots cut out of the channel and teeth on the handle as shown in this next picture.

These squeegees make changing channels and rubber very easy though the rubber is looser at the edges.

lastly there is a new squeegee that came out just last april I believe. It was invented by a window cleaner in England who would modify his standard channels by cutting the ends at a 45 degree angle, this allowed the rubber to press all the way up against the frame of the window while fanning (a method of squeegeeing that cleans the window in one motion without having to lift the squeegee off the glass. See video below) so that there is zero water left on the edges to be detailed with a towel. Here is a picture of one of the ones he helped create.

I could go on, but there are half a dozen major brands who all make dozens of configurations and I'm content to leave it here. Look forward to next weeks blog: The Mop

-Ben