Everything you need to know about Hiring a Commercial Window Cleaner
Each aspect of your business’s appearance is a ‘reflection’ of your business – especially your windows! If you want to make a good first impression on investors, clients, recruits, and competitors, you need to keep your windows, doors, and reflective surfaces crystal clear. Not only does regular commercial window cleaning keep your premises looking their best, but it also prevents damage.
We wanted to give you a rundown of the ins and outs of commercial window cleaning. In this guide, we include:
- Why commercial window cleaning is so important
- Common tools used by commercial window cleaners
- An explanation of why it’s so dangerous to clean your windows on your own
- Details on why a professional, reputable company is your best choice
- How to choose a commercial window cleaner
Soon, you’ll know everything you need to know about commercial window cleaning – and more!
Why is Commercial Window Cleaning So Important?
Before we move on to other key facts about commercial window cleaning, let’s start by addressing why it’s so important in the first place. Did you know that some businesses cut their window cleaning costs when they’re looking for places to save money? This is a huge mistake that ends up costing them a lot more in the long run. Here are just five reasons why cleaning your dirty windows should be one of your top maintenance concerns.
- Prolong the life of your windows
Over time, acid rain and hard water will build up on your windows, as well as on the sills and the frames. Not only does this leave unsightly streaks, but the residue will also eventually damage your glass. That’s because the dirt and chemicals can get inside the microscopic pores in your glass, which corrodes the windows.
You’ll first see what appear to be scratches, and then small constellations of cracks. Eventually, the glass can crack and even shatter. It will be much less secure, and more likely to implode when a bird crashes into the glass or hail hits its surface.
If your commercial premises are near a busy A road or a motorway, this is even more important. The pollution and grime from roadways can speed up this process, as can spray from salted roads.
- Improve your air quality
When you’re trapped in the office day in and day out, your air quality is extremely important. When dirt, mould, and chemicals build up on your sills and glass, you end up breathing this toxic air in – that’s a real health hazard. Long-term exposure to mould and mildew can cause respiratory problems and trigger asthma and allergies. If you notice that your office’s air feels more stagnant than usual, commercial window cleaning could be the solution.
- Make the most of the sun’s rays to lower heating costs
It can get extremely cold in the UK in the winter, and it costs a great deal of money to heat commercial properties. If you’ve noticed your heating bill steadily rising, your grimy windows might be the culprit. Dirt, grease, water marks, and mildew can start to block out the sunlight and UV rays, which are free heat that streams in every day. Without this daily blast of free heating, your energy bills are sure to skyrocket. Clean your windows regularly to take full advantage of this free resource.
- Gaze out at better views
There is nothing more depressing that spending a beautiful day trapped indoors. The least you can do is ensure that your windows are crystal clear! That way you can enjoy the natural light and vibrant colours of the world outside your office. Even if your view is of a parking lot or a concrete wall, a clean window is always a better sight than a filthy pane of glass.
In addition to your own mood, you should also think of your clients and colleagues. Streaky, dirty windows will make a terrible impression on anyone visiting your business – any potential client will undoubtedly feel turned off by your lack of care.
- Improve your kerb appeal
Sure, you want your home to look its best, but this is even more important when it comes to your business! When you have a client, colleague, or potential recruit visiting your premises, it needs to look its best. Regularly schedule commercial window cleaning so that your property always looks neat, tidy, and cared for. This goes a long way to making a great impression, boosting your reputation, and improving your bottom line.
Common Tools that Commercial Window Cleaners Use
The essential list of common window cleaning tools includes the things you’d expect – buckets, sponges, washing-up liquid, lint-free flannels, blades, scrapers, and squeegees. Here is a list of some of the most common tools that commercial window cleaners use.
- Water-fed pole
Sometimes called a ‘reach and wash,’ a water-fed pole allows a commercial window cleaner to reach heights greater than their arms-length.
- T-bar Squeegee
Anyone who has ever cleaned a window knows that a squeegee is the gold standard for sparkling clean glass. Most professionals use a 14-inch squeegee than detaches into two pieces.
- Extra squeegee blades
Squeegee blades get worn out all the time, and can even snap and break during tough jobs. You never know when your trusty squeegee is going to let you down – keeping a spare blade on hand means that you’ll never be caught up when you’re up the side of a skyscraper.
A glass scraper will loosen and remove dirt, dried bird droppings, dried paint, mineral deposits, and ice. If your squeegee alone can’t tackle it, the scraper is your best friend.
This is one supply that no one should ever scrimp on – your ladder should be stable, high-quality, and in excellent condition. As soon as it starts to get worn out or wobbly, it’s time to replace it with a new ladder. One important note: as per The Work at Height Directive 2005, companies should use water-fed poles instead of ladders. Ladders should only be used to prepare surfaces or carry out other tasks, but never during the actual cleaning process.
- Ladder clamps
Ladder clamps are a must for anyone working at heights. They allow you to clamp the ladder to the building, and snap into the roof rack on a van.
- Ladder mitts
It’s always a good idea to use ladder mitts – they’ll prevent scratches and damage to the building.
When you’re working with sudsy water, you need a sturdy bucket. The most common bucket is a 20-litre rectangular bucket with plenty of space to rest a squeegee.
- Water storage cans
Not every commercial property can provide reliable access to clean, running water. Large storage cans for water are a must, allowing commercial window cleaners to transport water with them so they’re never delayed or unable to get the job done.
- Extension pole
It’s always a good idea to bring along an extension pole so you can elongate your T-bar and reach every nook and cranny on a building. Just remember – this extension pole is different to a water-fed pole, and performs different tasks.
- Washing-up liquid
While some surfaces do best with clean water, other jobs will require the dirt-busting power of washing-up liquid. Always keep some on hand.
- Microfibre rags
Microfibre rags do not produce lint, so they clean the surfaces and glass without leaving additional streaks.
- Waste bag
Most commercial window cleaners bring a plastic carrier bag to use as a bin bag, helping them to keep dirty cloths separate from their clean supply.
- Short stepladder
Sometimes the big ladder is overkill – the job just requires a few extra feet of height. Most companies keep a short stepladder on hand for these instances.
A toolbelt can help a window cleaner keep all of their tools and supplies organised and within hand’s reach.
Of course, every company is different, and has their own preferred methods and products. However, you’re likely to see most of these items in use during your next commercial window clean.
Is It Dangerous to Clean Your Own Windows?
While this is a common question we get from our residential clients, our commercial clients also ask us about DIY window cleaning. They often want to know if they can save some money by cleaning their windows themselves, or maybe hiring a local handyman to do the job.
Obviously, this is not possible for a high rise, but DIY window cleaning can seem like a good solution for one or two-story buildings. After all, you have a flannel and some window cleaner – what can go wrong?
We are here to tell you that DIY window cleaning can be very dangerous! Unless you are using a professional commercial window cleaner, the risks of injury and even death are high. Not only that, but you’re very likely to end up with damage, some of which can be very costly to repair.
Professional commercial window cleaning companies have the experience, equipment, and fitness to do the job correctly without damaging your property. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should never attempt commercial window cleaning on your own.
- You don’t have the right equipment – You’ve got some Windowlene and a roll of kitchen towel, but those tools simply won’t tackle the job. Exterior windows get coated in grime, pollen, sap, grime, bird mess, and dirt. They require the right tools. If you try to use domestic products to clean your exterior windows, you’re likely to just make more of a mess.
- It’s dangerous – The most obvious reason to avoid cleaning your own commercial windows is the danger. Broken bones, head injuries, and even death could be the result. It’s extremely common for people to fall off of ladders. If you’re not trained to hold the power of a pressure washer on a roof or on a ladder, you can easily get blasted off. Also, most commercial windows cannot be easily reached with the domestic equipment you may have. You’d need a professional ladder – and the training to use one. It’s just simply too dangerous.
- You could damage your property – There are countless ways you could damage your property when you’re attempting to clean your windows. You could shatter the glass, knock tiles out of place, ruin your gutters, and damage your roof or exterior finish. Then you’ll not only have to pay someone to clean your windows, but fix what you broke as well.
Should You Hire a Professional Window Cleaning Company?
Now that you know just how dangerous it can be to try to clean your windows on your own, you might be tempted to hire an unlicensed local handyman to tackle the job. After all, their rates are so cheap!
That could be a huge mistake. If you don’t go with a reputable company, you could end up with the following problems.
- Incorrect tool use
It’s common for novices and local handymen to think they know how to correctly clean commercial windows. But when the time comes, you’ll soon see that they don’t really know what they’re doing! They use the wrong tools, shoddy ladders, and unsafe equipment. They ignore The Work at Height Directive 2005 and use ladders instead of the preferred water-fed pole equipment. Not only is this dangerous, but it also results in improperly cleaned windows and takes far longer.
- They work in inclement weather
Professional window cleaners are experts in their field – they have the experience to know when they should carry out their work, and when they should wait. Not all weather conditions are amenable to window cleaning. The high noon sun should be avoided, as it causes the product and water to dry too quickly, leaving streaks and soap residue behind. Professional window cleaners will also reschedule when the conditions are too windy. Cleaning at height is not safe in high winds – they could injure themselves, passers-by, or your employees.
- They ignore health and safety measures
It’s common for unlicensed window cleaners and local handymen to be unfamiliar with health and safety laws, or to ignore them completely. Window cleaning comes with risks! That’s why it’s subject to legislation. Always ask commercial window cleaners for a copy of their health and safety policy.
- They aren’t insured
All window cleaners must have public liability insurance, but you would be surprised at how many companies try to get away with working uninsured. Larger companies should also have Public Liability Insurance that covers the specific heights and methods that they use. Ask for a copy of their insurance, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about working at height.
- They won’t clean your frames
This is an extremely common mistake – unprofessional companies will just focus on the glass, and completely ignore your frames. A reputable commercial window cleaning company will scrape and scrim your frames to remove cobwebs and excess grime, preventing splash-back and keeping your windows cleaner for longer.
- They use unfiltered tap water
Maybe they’re trying to save money, and perhaps they just don’t know better – but novice window cleaners will often use unfiltered tap water to clean windows. Tap water is loaded with impurities, and it leaves minerals behind. This results in streaks, and leaves your windows looking worse than when they started.
How to Choose a Professional Commercial Window Cleaner
Now that you’re ready to hire a reputable and fully licensed commercial window cleaner, here are some tips.
Water-fed poles vs Ladders
First, ask them about the equipment that they plan to use to clean your building. If they answer that they plan to use ladders, ask them further follow-up questions. What is their rationale? As per The Work at Height Directive 2005, professional window cleaners should use water-fed poles whenever possible. This is a more effective and far safer method. Window cleaning is a risky task, and using a water-fed pole can help reduce the risk and keep things far safer. If they say they plan to use ladders, you should steer completely clear of this company.
With any reputable company, employee safety should always be the top priority. This is especially true in an industry as dangerous and fraught with complications as commercial window cleaning. Ask to see the company’s employee safety policies. If they can’t or won’t produce this document, you should steer clear of this company.
You should also request a copy of the company’s employee liability insurance. Go through this with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that you won’t be on the hook if something goes wrong. If one of their cleaners has an accident while on your property and their insurance isn’t adequate, you could end up being liable.
In addition to the human cost of accidents, what about the cost of protecting your property? If the window cleaner drops a bucket on your car’s bonnet or through the windscreen, you could be on the hook for the repair costs. Make sure that they have comprehensive insurance coverage, which they should be happy to show you upon request.
Are they professional and courteous?
Most commercial window cleaners are professional, courteous, and in good standing with their past clients. However, there are always a few bad apples out there who can end up doing more damage than good. Check out the following factors to assess their professionalism:
- Do they wear branded uniforms? Do employees look neat and tidy?
- Do they have good reviews online?
- Are their vehicles in good condition?
- Is their website in good working order, and updated regularly?
- Do they have a presence on social media?
- Can you find them listed on the Companies House website?
- Drive past their premises – do they look legitimate?
What is their communication and cancellation policy?
In most industries, a last-minute cancellation is a complete deal-breaker. This shows that a company is unprofessional and doesn’t value your time. However, in the commercial window cleaning business, last-minute changes are not just common; they are necessary due to weather. It’s worth asking your preferred company what they plan to do in the case of inclement weather, and how they will let you know.
Always check out a commercial window cleaner’s level of experience – ask them about how many years they have been in the business. In addition to their years of experience, find out if they are on top of new technology. Do they keep up with the industry, adapt to new techniques, and invest in new equipment?
We all want to save some money and improve our bottom line, but this is not a good idea when it comes to your commercial window cleaners. Price should not be your main consideration – you should always ensure that a low price doesn’t include any hidden fees and extra costs. If a low price seems too good to be true, it’s very likely that it is.
Always ask about payment options, and insist on an official invoice. If someone offers you an ‘under the table’ rate, be very wary about the company. Any reputable company should be willing to accept BACS payments.
Do you want Clean and Sparkling Windows? You need a Professional Window Cleaner
There you have it – a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about commercial window cleaning. We’ve detailed just why it’s so important, explained the dangers of doing it yourself, listed the most important equipment in the trade, explained why you need to look for a professional, and helped you with a list of what to look for while hiring. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any further questions.
Enjoy your sparkling clean windows!