Professionally cleaning windows can be a dangerous job. We have the right tools, high-quality ladders and years of experience working at higher than normal heights. And sometimes we still manage to get injured on the job. Imagine trying to do this job on your own without any of these advantages. That’s what many people do when they break out their 20-year-old ladder and set out to clean their second or even third story windows.
In a typical window cleaning operation, you would hire professionals or you would do the work yourself. You would use some kind of window cleaning spray or detergent, soap up the window, and then wipe it clean. Household cleaners are usually some kind of ammonia-based spray. You spray on the windows and then wipe it off. Professional cleaners use soap and water, then they squeegee it off. These methods are slowly being replaced by pure water window cleaning. Pure water window cleaning is exactly what it sounds like; it is cleaning a window with water only.
How it Works
The water used in the system is first purified. All chemicals and minerals are removed from the glass, so that it’s completely pure. The water is then fed through a pole with a brush on the end. The water is sprayed onto the windows, and the brush is used to scrub away the dirt and oil from the window. It’s just that simple. There are no chemicals or detergents used to clean the window, just pure water and a brush. This process has been around for several decades, but it did not become very popular until recently because purifying water was prohibitively expensive.
It might sound like this method wouldn’t work as well to cut dirt and oil as detergents, but it can actually be more effective. Detergents can leave behind residue on the windows that build up over time. If you can smell the window cleaner after you wash your windows, that means it has left behind residue.
Instead of using chemicals to bond with the dirt and oil and remove them, pure water cleaning uses the water itself. Water that has had its minerals removed is called “deionized” water. Deionized water is desperate to form bonds with minerals again. So, when it’s applied to the windows, it bonds with the dirt and oil on the windows. It’s then scrubbed away.
Pure water cleaning has some advantages over detergents. For one, there is no soap residue left on the windows. Soap residue can leave a film or streaks on the windows; it can also attract dirt. Furthermore, it’s completely environmentally friendly.
Lastly, pure water does not have to be carefully squeegeed off the windows or dried the way a traditional cleaning would. Since the runoff is just pure water, you can just allow it to air dry in the sun.
Cleaning the exterior windows at your house can be a serious pain, especially if you have multiple stories. If you want to clean the windows on the second floor or in hard-to-reach places, you can use a ladder or a pressure washer. A pressure washer is one of the best ways to clean exterior windows, but there are some things you should be aware of.
Setting the Right Pressure and Nozzle
If you already have the pressure washer, you need to prepare it properly to clean your windows. Cracking the glass or loosening the wood putty are the biggest dangers when using a pressure washer to clean your windows. To avoid that, you should use no more than 2,000psi on your pressure washer. If you can set it to about 1,500 psi, that would be even better. Secondly, you should choose a 40-degree or 65-degree nozzle; you never want to spray water directly at the window pane. If you’re shopping at a store, 40-degree nozzles are white and 65-degree nozzles are black.
Choose The Right Detergent
Secondly, you should choose the right detergent for your pressure washer. You need a detergent that is designed for pressure washers. Fill up the reservoir in your pressure washer; when you turn it on, it will mix with the flow of water to create the right proportion of water and detergent. If you don’t choose one recommended for your washer, it can cause problems with the proper functioning. It can also reduce the effectiveness of the cleaning solution.
Spray at an Angle
Even with the wide nozzle on the pressure washer and the pressure turned down, you should avoid spraying water directly at the window. Spray at an angle to the glass. Start at the edges of the window and work your way inward.
Avoid spraying the putty if you can. You don’t want to loosen the putty; if you do, it will eventually loosen the pane in the window frame and undermine the integrity of the window. Finally, you want to spray the window with clear water. Turn off the detergent reservoir and wash the window with clear water. Do this before the detergent has a chance to dry, which will leave streaks.
If you are cleaning your windows on a particularly hot day, you should rinse each window right after washing it to ensure that it doesn’t dry too quickly. In this way, homeowners can wash dozens of windows in an afternoon.
You can end up with paint on your windows for several different reasons. Some people just don’t bother taping up their windows. Sometimes, a paint sprayer can lead to errant paint on the glass. Maybe you bought it and it was like that when you got it. Whatever the case may be, if you have paint on your glass and you’d like it gone, you need to follow a few steps.
You’re going to need a few things to effectively remove paint from your glass. Fortunately, many of them are items that are readily available. You’ll need dish soap, a cotton cloth, a utility knife, glass cleaner, newspaper or towels, a drop cloth, a putty knife, and a spray bottle.
Get to Cleaning
First, you’ll need to put some warm water into your spray bottle with some dish soap. Swirl the dish soap around to mix it up, but don’t shake it and make it foamy. Spray the soapy water all over the window. It’s not really possible to use too much here.
Once you’ve sprayed the soapy water all over the window, use a utility knife to cut along the edge of the window pane to score the paint. This will make it much easier to pull the paint off the window. However, be sure to use very light pressure. You don’t want to scratch the glass.
Place the putty knife at a 45 degree angle to the window. With an even motion, push it away from you to peel the paint off the glass. Don’t use too much pressure or you risk damaging the window. Too much pressure can scratch the glass or even crack it. Also, be sure to keep the edge of the putty knife clean so that you can easily move it across the glass. If you can’t move it easily, you’ll be forced to use more pressure. That won’t work as well, and it endangers the window.
The previous instructions work best for paint that is dry and relatively new. Sometimes, in the case of very old windows, the paint is very difficult to remove. In those cases, you might need to use some paint thinner to soften the paint before it can be removed. Use this instead of soapy water. Be careful not to get the paint thinner on the painted window frame.
Just that easily you can restore windows to their previous glory.
There are several different ways that your windows can become scratched. Tree branches rubbing against windows is a common problem that homeowners face. Also, they can become scratched from pets and children; pets are a particularly common issue. The first step is to assess the damage to the window. The panes of glass should be sealed with a vacuum between them. You need to check to see if the glass itself is scratched on the surface or actually cracked. If the glass is cracked, you’ll need to consult a professional. If you see condensation between the panes, you’ll also need a professional. However, if it’s just surface scratches and the seal is still good, you can likely fix it.
Lastly, you should run your fingernail over the window. If the scratch is deep enough that your fingernail gets caught in it, then it’s likely too deep to remove.
If you got a hardware store to get something to repair the cracks, you’ll likely find a product that contains cerium oxide. This compound is actually harder than glass; therefore, it can be used to polish glass. It works on the same principle as a fine grit sandpaper polishing wood.
Apply a small amount of the cerium oxide compound to the window and use a soft cloth to polish the scratches. If they’re shallow, they should buff out.
Use Glass Polish
After you’ve buffed out the scratches as much as you can, you should use a window polish. You can use mineral spirits or toothpaste to accomplish this. Apply them to the window, focusing on the scratched areas. Polish them well with a soft cloth. This doesn’t actually remove the scratches but it does remove dirt and grime from the scratches, which will make them less visible.
Use Nail Polish
You can also use clear nail polish to fill in the scratches. It might be slightly visible from up close, but it will generally make your windows look much better once you take a step back.
Finally, use a window cleaner to clean the cerium oxide and toothpaste off the windows. Once you’ve done all of that, it’s likely that the window will look significantly better. If the scratches still remain after you do that, you’ll likely need to have them professional repaired. Professional glass repair contractors use a clear compound to fill in the scratches. You could also choose just to have the window panes replaced. Though, that might not be an option if you have antique windows.
In the world of interior design, reclaimed and restored pieces are very popular. That’s true for just about every aspect of design. Reclaimed hardwood is being used for floors, ceilings, cabinets, furniture, and more. Many designers and homeowners are also looking for antique windows. The windows are so interesting and unique that they’re often used simply as decoration and not even as functioning windows. The patina, aging, and scars are all part of the appeal. However, there can be too much of a good thing. If you’ve got some antique windows, you might need to restore them somewhat to allow them to truly shine. That will take some particular care. Here’s how you can do that.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
When you are dealing with antique windows, it’s best to start small. You can always do more in the future; you can’t undo work if you’ve damaged the windows. Since you don’t know how the windows will react to the chemicals you are using, always use your most gentle cleaners first.
Dirt and oil build up over time, so it might take time to clean them away. Start with a mild glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Give the glass cleaner time to penetrate the dirt and oil before you move to anything stronger. The same is true for the wooden window frame. Be careful with harsh chemicals or lots of moisture. Wood will absorb moisture, which can cause rotting or warping. Avoid that by being very careful and only using a damp cloth at first.
If the grime still exists on the glass after you’ve used standard chemicals, it’s time to move to oxalic acid. This is a harsh chemical that is typically available in powder form. It’s an abrasive that will scrape away grease and dirt but it won’t scratch the glass. When you’re using it, follow the directions on the packaging. Also, it’s important to let the chemical do the work for you. Don’t scrub too hard or you risk just breaking the glass.
For the wooden frame, you need to decide how much of the original patina you’re going to keep. If it’s got a rustic look that you like, you can just preserve that look by applying a layer of polyurethane or oil to the wood. You don’t want to get this on the glass, though. Tape the glass off with some painter’s tape to keep polyurethane contained.
If you want, you can sand and stain the window frame before refinishing it. You’ll still need to tape them to protect the glass.
There are several reasons why a homeowner would want to make his or her own window cleaner. One reason is simply the availability of window cleaners. If you are cleaning up around your house, you might find that you’ve run out of the commercial cleaner you bought at the store. In that case, you’ll need to either run out to the store or make one yourself. Fortunately, many window cleaners can be made from items that you likely already have around your house. Furthermore, the environment in many places already has too many toxins. Household cleaners are some of the most common culprits. Fortunately, everyday items can be safer for your environment and work just as well.
The first step in your streak-free homemade window cleaner is assembling all of the ingredients. A very workable window cleaner is made from vinegar, rubbing alcohol, cornstarch, water, and essential oils. The essential oils are optional, but they do help to impart a nice smell to the window cleaner. You should use about even proportions of vinegar and rubbing alcohol. You can use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Use a small amount of cornstarch and then fill the bottle up the rest of the way with water.
Using The Window Cleaner
Cornstarch might seem like an odd addition to a window cleaner, but the science supports it. Glass is not completely smooth; it actually contains many microscopic scratches and bumps. Water can stick to those tiny abrasions. Then, more water and chemicals will bond to that water. That is what creates streaking. Cornstarch disrupts those hydrogen bonds and prevents streaks. If you’re allergic to corn, or don’t have any around, you could use any type of starch in small amounts. Tapioca and arrowroot, for example, would work as well.
You then should pick a microfiber towel to clean the windows. Many people choose to use two towels. Spray the cleaner on the surface and then clean the windows; then, use the second towel to dry the window. That prevents any cleaner from being left on the window. If you don’t have microfiber towels, newspaper or cotton clothing will work. Many people just use an old t-shirt. You just need something that won’t scratch the glass or leave behind fibers.
That’s how easy it is to make your own cleaner. You can alter the proportions of vinegar and alcohol if you need something that will provide a deeper clean.
Skylights are not only a beautiful addition to a home, but they are also an upgrade that can add value to the home. The natural light that skylights add to a home is an attention grabber for home buyers. Whether it is the sunlight during the day or the romantic moonlight at night, skylights not only add the perfect ambiance to a room but utilizing natural light can help cut cost on utility bills.
Preparing your home for winter-
- Have your doors and windows properly insulated. Winter heating bills can get high but with proper insulation you can reduce that bill. Add weather strips, caulk and insulated window films to better trap your heat in your home. These are things many homeowners can do themselves or a handyman can do for you.
- If you have a traditional fireplace you should have your chimney serviced. A chimney sweep can remove built up soot and reduce the risk of fires. The chimney and fireplace should be services once a year or more often if you use them frequently.
- Protect your pipes. Pipes can take a lot of abuse when temperatures drop below freezing. Keep your home heated and when possible keep the temperature around your pipes above freezing as well. When the temperatures drop too low you may need to leave the faucets running to keep the water pressure active and reduce the chance of freezing.
- Cover outside spigots and remove hoses. The outside water spigots can freeze and crack which causes leaking. Have these serviced before winter begins and cover them to protect from freezing.
- Keep gutters clean. After the fall season your gutters may need to be cleaned out. Leaves can accumulate in the gutters and cause them to stop working or slow down. Keeping them clean helps to reduce the risk of the gutters freezing solid. Icicles should be removed to protect the roof and your home. Cleaning your gutters can be challenging especially if your roof line is high. Calling a professional is cheaper than you may think and a lot safer.
- Consider gutter guards. If you have a lot of trees you may want to install gutter guards to reduce the risk of clogged gutters.
These simple steps help prepare your home for a cold winter without a lot of effort. The changing of the seasons always brings new challenges for your home but also new fun.
Nobody likes cleaning gutters! It’s messy. It’s dangerous. It’s time consuming! But, the alternative to cleaning them is letting them fill up with debris that can cause them to fail as a system. Gutters provide many benefits, not the least of which, preserving your home’s exterior. Your walls, roofing surface, foundation and landscaping can all take a beating when gutters become clogged!