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Make Light Work of Cleaning High Windows

March 5, 2024

Make Light Work of Cleaning High Windows

Cleaning high windows can seem like an intimidating chore. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can make light work of this task. Here’s how I tackle cleaning hard-to-reach windows safely and efficiently.

Assess the Windows and Gather Supplies

Before getting started, take some time to assess the windows you need to clean.

  • Consider the height and location. Are they easily accessible from the ground with an extension pole? Or will cleaning them require a ladder for access?

  • Inspect the type of glass and frames. Glass that is heavily coated or tempered may require specialized cleaners. Check window frames for peeling paint or rust spots that need attention.

  • Look for any obstructions. Are the windows blocked by screens, shutters, heavy drapery or foliage? You may need to remove obstructions to access the full glass surface.

Once you’ve assessed the windows, gather the necessary supplies:

  • Bucket – Use two buckets, one for wash water and one for rinse water.

  • Extension pole – Choose a sturdy telescoping pole that extends to the height you need. Look for poles with threaded ends that allow you to switch out cleaning heads.

  • Cleaning heads – I recommend a microfiber washing sleeve and a squeegee/scrubber combo head.

  • Ladder – A sturdy multi-position ladder may be needed to access second-story or other hard-to-reach windows.

  • Window cleaning solution – Use a specialized glass cleaner or mix a couple tsps of dish soap with water.

  • Squeegee – A professional squeegee on a long handle lets you reach to clean and squeegee in one motion.

  • Microfiber cloths and chamois – I keep an arsenal of these super-absorbent cloths on hand for polishing.

Wash Windows Using the Proper Technique

Here are the steps I follow to clean windows properly from top to bottom:

1. Rinse

  • Rinse the entire window surface with water using your extension pole and sleeve. This helps soften dirt and debris.

2. Wash

  • Dip your washing sleeve in the soap solution bucket. Wash the window using gentle circular motions.

  • Focus on washing one manageable section at a time. Work top to bottom.

3. Rinse

  • Rinse the washed section thoroughly before moving onto the next section.

  • Work across and down the window surface in a zigzag pattern.

4. Squeegee

  • Attach a squeegee/scrubbing head to your extension pole. Squeegee the soap off in overlapping vertical strokes.

  • Wipe the squeegee blade frequently for a streak-free finish.

5. Dry and polish

  • Use a cloth on your pole to thoroughly dry window frames and ledges.

  • Finish by polishing the glass with a lint-free microfiber cloth for sparkling results.

Work Safely from Ladders

Cleaning second story or other high windows often requires working from a ladder. Follow these important safety tips when using ladders:

  • Always maintain three points of contact while climbing and working on ladders.

  • Set ladders on stable, level ground and secure them from moving or slipping.

  • Extend the ladder to reach the work area while still allowing 3 feet to hold on above the roof line. Don’t overextend.

  • Place ladders at a 75 degree angle and avoid reaching or leaning too far to the side from the ladder.

  • Use pole extensions for washing instead of overreaching from ladders.

  • Have someone hold the ladder steady while climbing or working from it.

Make Cleaning Easier Next Time

You can take a few steps to make cleaning high windows easier in the future:

  • Install lift-out screens that allow full window access without difficult screen removal.

  • Consider hiring a professional window cleaner for a deep cleaning service on hard-to-reach second story and higher windows.

  • Trim back trees or foliage to remove obstructions and allow easier access.

  • Replace deteriorating window caulk and glazing to prevent dirt trapping.

With the right approach and safety precautions, you can tackle washing windows at height. Follow these tips to make the job go smoothly. The satisfaction of sparkling clean windows high and low will be worth the effort!

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