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Cleaning windows: Shedding daylight on a dirty subject

By HC Staff

My first day on the job working for a professional window cleaner, I was introduced to something wonderfulâ??something that changed my world. It was a squeegee.


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How could I be so enthusiastic about a janitorial tool (even one with such a delightful name)? It gave me power. Once I learned to use it, I never had to suffer smudgy patio doors again. I quit reading household tips that recommend using vinegar and newspaper. (Have you ever actually tried that? It may work, but it’s hard.) It completely eliminated my need to purchase blue-colored glass cleaner.

Most of all, it worked better than anything else and got me through my housework faster.

But as marvelous as the squeegee is, it does come with a learning curve. The first thing you need to learn is how to buy the right squeegee, or you’ll be disappointed. Here are a few tips that will help you select the perfect squeegee for your home and have you singing its praises along with me:

  1. It is NOT a shower squeegee. You can buy a very good, professional window squeegee for under $15 at almost any hardware or janitorial supply store. You’ll probably never have to buy another one.
  2. A squeegee has three parts: handle, channel, and rubber blade. The three are often sold together in one package at hardware or home improvement stores. At a janitorial supply store, you may find channels, handles, and blades sold separately. (If you want, you can purchase one squeegee handle and several channels in different sizes. Ask for a quick-release squeegee handle that allows you to switch out channels easily.)
  3. Rubber blades will need to be replaced when they become worn or brittle. They are inexpensive, but a package of one blade at the hardware store is usually not a bargain. Check janitorial supply companies online or in your town for the best prices. 
  4. Choose the channel size according to the most common size glass pane in your home.
  • If you have single-pane windows, the easy-to-find 12” squeegee will work well for cleaning windows, patio doors, and large mirrors throughout your home. Most hardware and home improvement stores carry this size squeegee.
  • If you have French-pane windows (small panes of glass inside a wooden grid-work), measure the glass panes both horizontally and vertically. Your squeegee will need to be at least ¼-inch smaller than the longest edge. If your window panes are not uniform in size (check several just to be sure), then you will likely want to purchase a channel that is at least ¼” smaller than the smallest pane of glass. This will allow you to clean the small panes in one swipe, and the larger panes in two or more swipes. You might want to go ahead and pick up a 12” squeegee for storm windows, sliding glass doors, and large mirrors.

Now that you know how to buy a squeegee, you’ll need to learn how to use it. The articles below give step-by-step instructions and really useful tips to help you be successful. With practice, you’ll get so good you can start charging your relatives and friends for the service!

One last point: I recommend hiring a professional window cleaning service for second-story windows. To cut down on the expense, you could always clean the inside of the glass yourself. If you take the D.I.Y. approach, make sure you have the proper tools to do the job safely. A good extension ladder, a ladder stabilizer, a professional bucket and bucket hook, a window cleaner’s belt and holster, a stripwasher, and other items may be required.

Painless Window Cleaning
by Founder and President, Allen Rathey.

Easy Windows
by Speed Cleaning author, Jeff Campbell.

And don’t forget to Clean Window Screens.


More resources:

Self-Cleaning Windows

Window Cleaning



(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Housekeeping Channel, LLC.)

Cleaning windows: Shedding daylight on a dirty subject:  Created on May 31st, 2010.  Last Modified on March 10th, 2011