First-ever High-rise Window Cleaning Job

I still remember my first day as a window cleaning rookie – it was more than seven years ago, and I had no idea what I was doing. My instructor was a greasy old veteran with almost fifteen years on the job with a rasp sense of humour and a golden heart. He told me: “Look now, Georgie boy, there are only two rules on the job. Don’t break the window…”, he growled with laughter, throwing his head back while he was routinely polishing a storefront with a squeegee, “and always look to the next challenge. Do not become stagnant, learn and try new stuff, that’s the way to go places in the business, youngster!”

I took his advice to heart. Two years later, I was the highest-rated Reach & Wash window cleaner in the company. In another 18 months, I got the SK1 Window Cleaning Skills Certificate from the British Window Cleaning Academy. If there was a particularly challenging job or a new tool my boss wanted to try, I was his first call.

Still, there was one field, one final frontier that seemed beyond my reach – the challenging realm of high-rise window cleaning. Among professionals, the difference between polishing a street-level window display and working on a skyscraper is like hiking in the Scottish highlands and climbing the Himalayas. I was drawn to the challenge like a moth to a flame. And sooner or later, I told myself, I would mount my Everest.

The Opening

They say luck is the crossing point of skill and preparation. I have been preparing myself for the opportunity for more than two years. Believe it or not, I even took climbing lessons and went paragliding to get used to heights. I knew I had the window washing part under control; I just had to learn the basics of abseiling rope systems and safety protocols. Once I had covered that, I just had to wait for the right situation.

Three weeks ago, one of our high-rise cleaning teams got depleted – one of the guys cut his hand pretty deeply in a domestic accident, and another took a leave for his sister’s wedding. I got a call from my boss with the news, asking me if I was up to the task – all he received was a one-syllable “yes”. My opening had just arrived.

Preparation

No matter how many years you have been in the business, you cannot just take on a high-rise window cleaning job. You have to go through safety and technical training, and you must pass several rehearsal drills on the ground before you are good to go. Remember what I said about luck? My climbing lessons proved very handy, indeed. Instead of the prolonged preparation and mind-numbing repetitions of the safety manual, I went through something of a crash course in vertical window cleaning a couple of hundred feet above ground level. The more I learned and read, the more I felt equal to the task. There was really nothing new in terms of window washing – after all, glass is all the same, whether you polish it on the ground, with a water-fed pole, or hanging from a rope on the side of a skyscraper. So when the big day came, I was neither nervous nor antsy – it was just another day on the job.

The Location

It is time for another quote – my mom used to say: “I don’t know what is wrong with you, George, but you always want to jump in the deepest water.” She was right, of course, and things did not change as I grew older. If I were going to have my first high-rise window cleaning job, it would be the real deal, not some 10th-floor disappointment.

As it turned out, the job was the monthly polish of the windows on the 29th floor of the Empress State Building (Empress Approach, Lillie Road, West Brompton, London, SW6 1TR). It is one of the iconic skyscrapers in South West London, and I’ve passed along the building numerous times on my way home. 

When our 4-man team arrived on site on a sunny Saturday, I was thankful the weather was not rainy or windy. As if reading my mind, one of my colleagues tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Feels pretty calm, doesn’t it? It is windy up there for sure.” 

No matter how confident you may feel, no matter how many climbing lessons you take – when you look up the side of the behemoth, you can feel your stomach tighten up. But I was not going to let my nerves stand in the way of my next goal.

The Job

I know this is supposed to be the grand finale of the story, the crescendo of my Mount Everest climb. I am sorry, but I will have to disappoint you. It was actually a pretty ordinary job, and it was over in little more than two hours. Sure, I had a moment of doubt when I had to step over the edge, grabbing my rope line. But once my training kicked in, and I felt the reassuring security of the abseiling, I got to what I do best – quickly and effectively polishing a window. Moreover, I had an excellent team with me, and they did not give me the usual rookie hard time – I guess the environment changes your perspective.

But that is not really the point. The fact of the matter was that I had taken the next step and crossed the final frontier… Sort of. Who knows, maybe a window cleaning job on the Shard will be the next challenge!

Window Cleaning For Kids – A Homemade Solution For Education And Inspiration

Do you want to share home cleaning time with your children? They love to be helpful and to do experiments with parent’s tolerance and patience. Such common experience would be an exciting chance to strengthen family relationships. In my opinion, most of the kids strive to be older through coping adults’ activities, and that is a unique possibility to learn and game.

Unfortunately, we often haven’t enough time to ensure them such freedom and useful practising for life. Window washing is one of the safest chores and great idea to use their energy and inspiration.

Please, give them the necessary supplies and improve their cleaning skills. Different finger exercises develop definite brain centres and have a powerful effect on their ability to study. Why not? Busy everyday life demands adaptiveness and creativity to search advantages and practicality even in the simple things and routine action. Suppose you allow kids to have their window for cleaning and time for home care. In that case, you will manage to combine successfully the acceptable appearance of the property and extraordinary motor ability practising as a play. Moreover, that would be an enjoyable family time we can spend together.

Commercially avaulable window cleaners are not suitable for kids, so open the doors of your home natural laboratory. Present to your children the essence of eco-friendly chemical reactions they can observe while preparing a glass solution for brilliance and free of streaks beauty. Select healthy ingredients such as lemon juice and vinegar, considering spending that particular time efficiently and enjoyable. Equip yourself also with warm water, basket, cloth, sponge and squeegee if possible. Who said homemade window cleaning recipes cannot be fun? 🙂

Let them to mix substances and to make their purifying product. The magic would be complete if you add a few drops of fantastic smell, so use essential oils. You know that citrus and lavender have strong aromatherapy performance. Their gentle scent will increase the pleasure and final cleaning results. Besides that, it is safe for kids to apply.

Choose one particular window for the kinder washing. Show to your kids how the spray bottle works, its function, and pour in it the homemade window cleaners. Explain to your small helpers that they can take care of something and always add a value and different quality to it. Teach them to strive and believe, tell stories, while cleaning the glass and frames together. The most successful strategy is to be polite, not to expect anything and to encourage their efforts. Such window washing is more than the usual home chore; you invest in their imagination and skills to make decisions and work alone or in a team. 

According to the experts, that method has a considerable impact on their personality as a whole, if you use it regularly. As modern parents with broad outlooks, you can transform simple window care in a magical tale in action. No matter how old are your children and whether they can finish the purifying job, it is an essential part of your ordinary time, shared emotions and home obligations. Besides that, such cleaning of the windows together makes them more responsible for maintaining the space around. 

Consider that time as a free one, which can give you the freedom to realize something new for your toddlers or preschoolers. Use that home activity to understand something for school, their friends or any difficulties. The art of delegating tasks is a state-of-the-art mechanism to communicate and be closer to your kid’s dreams and point of views. Window washing with children is also a pleasant therapy for parents, their human patience and life inspiration. Remember that could be the newest habit at home with great experience and unexpectable experiments with the windows DIY solutions.

Glass washing with kids improves family climate; the smallest members of the family become calmer and engaged in house cleaning affairs. If you share that type of household keeping with them, you allow involvement in adults’ lives and help your favourites grow balanced and develop rapidly.  

Spray bottle and sponge usage or other tools on purpose can perfect their gross motor skills and arm movements. The process of spraying and wiping teach them to concentrate and to be diligent on the details.

That parent coaching could be a real-life lesson, concerned with children’s self-discipline, self-control, self-confidence. Window washing is a simple and effective game, which can allow them to be a part of the essential family processes.

Boost your imagination and create other safe and useful options for practical children’s activities, full of investigations and exciting moments. One day you will notice with pleasure that the windows which your favourite children have treated are the most shining in the entire house, indeed.  

Easy Solutions For Some of The Most Frequent Window Cleaning Problems

Although the efforts and the time we invest in washing, scrubbing and maintaining, the final results may not be sufficient.
For example, after a window cleaning process, it is quite possible to notice that the glass is rich in spots, traces, streaks despite the suitable products, the microfibre and other tools. It could be an embarrassing experience, indeed.

Photo by © Alexander Mueller

To avoid that unpleasant after cleaning effect, you may use a squeegee with a soft, flat rubber edge to dry the window and lend a brilliant shine. A similar feature you can find in the well-known black and white newspaper pages. Colourful areas are not suitable for that purpose.
A professional trick for glass washing is to start the drying with the first squeegee strip at the top and then continue with the next line. That is an efficient, organised method which reduces the risk of streaks. Choose an appropriate part of the day for that housekeeping task. The direct sunlight will dry the window too quickly, and the final result wouldn’t be so useful. Cloudy days also are a proper time to take care of that home section.
Blinds very rapidly collect dust. Fortunately, some simple hacks can allow you to breathe clean indoor air and to enjoy the beautiful window appearance from both sides. Your solution could be an antiseptic spray. Apply it after they are already purified. You can use that product also for other home possessions.

Photo by © waferboard

If mildew growth often bothers you and frequent scrubbing and treatment, trust on a bleach solution. Window frames are a risk zone at home. Both humidity and dust create the perfect soil for an easy piling up and mould growth.
You can remove black and grey mildew spores for good with that potent and toxic detergent, but the next window washing wouldn’t need such a chemical. So be calm. Sometimes the well-kept household requires a strong reaction to stop the spread of dangerous pathogens. You can also add a little bit of liquid soap for an excellent after-cleaning effect.

Photo by © ralmonline alm

Rubber gloves are recommended to protect the skin of your hands. Wearing a mask also would be a good self-care and wise decision.
Usually, the outside of the windows can be almost always dusty because the different debris in the air easy stick to the glass covering.
In case you have difficulties in keeping the sills that are a part of your home’s exterior, prepare a coat of floor wax. That is a straightforward and smart /my loved combination/ trick to protect the windows from dust, grime and bird’s excrements. Try, and you will see that such tips are working much more effectively than you can suppose.
When the windows are dirty, a homemade solution would be necessary to prepare. If the windows are covered with stubborn stains of dust and muddy raindrops, try to treat the glass first with vinegar or lemon juice. Rubbing alcohol, in my opinion, can make miracles. I prefer that product to disinfect contaminated surfaces and apply that solution during my deep cleanings at home.
The essential part of the cleaning usually includes warm soapy water. The windows need soapy bubbles because they can collect the dirt, to break the molecules of grime. But the creamy foam is not recommended and even contraindicated because the soap leaves residues over the glass surface, which is difficult to rinse and there is a risk of more humidity. Some experts advise using distilled water because it can remove the minerals very carefully and gently.
And one warning. Please, do not use a soap with moisturisers in it.
Consider if your windows get dirty too fast. Think about what would be the reasons and how to reduce their harmful impact. Please, consult with your friends, neighbours and check whether they have noticed such a problem in their households. Discuss your fears with specialists too.
There is a chance to improve the windows’ state and keep them clean for a longer time than usual. You can change the filter of the home heating and cooling system.
Modern smart homes trap a variety of air pollutions, including dirt, pathogens, pollen and dander. Furnace and air conditioners can also help you in the mission with the healthy indoor environment because they can grapple the dust and to keep the furniture, windows, floors and appliances neater.
Filter maintaining is not a challenging task and a cheap option, indeed. Another possibility is changing them every two months to improve the home air and keep the rooms’ cleanliness and cosiness.
If there are smokers at home, be sure that the windows get dirty rapidly because the nicotine is a massive enemy of each glass covering. You can eliminate the fume with ammonia cleaner. Use only scented one to avoid the unpleasant and long-lasting smell in the air.

My Greatest Window Cleaning Challenge

When do you understand that you “have arrived”, so to speak, in your profession? For me, it was a large-scale commercial window cleaning I took a couple of years ago. It showed me that I could take on any hygienic challenge, and I could trust my team, skills, and equipment.

I had been in the window cleaning industry for three years, mainly serving homeowners and a few small local businesses. I had settled in a good daily routine, taking no more than 3-4 jobs per day, which allowed me to earn more than I had expected in the beginning. I was in my comfort zone – working good, sleeping better, having no worries for the future.

Then one day, I received the fateful call from a large company that was planning to renovate one of the abandoned factory buildings in the area and turn it into small workshops. They had inspected the premises and found out they were in good enough condition not to bulldoze them away.

The company was looking for a local-based window cleaner who would polish all intact windows and wash the new ones after they had been installed. As the conversation progressed, I understood that the property management would consider a long-term contract if the initial performance was impressive enough.

It was the chance of a lifetime, the kind of jackpot many window cleaners never hit in their life. I had never taken a job anywhere near such a scale. But my cousin was already working part-time for me, and I had a couple of other experienced cleaners I could count on.

Do not expect me to tell you that it was all glamour and roses. It was not – this might have been the most stressful and exhausting week of my life. It was also the most rewarding. Three cleaners worked non-stop for 12 hours – three days straight. But at the end of it, hundreds of square feet of glass were shining like a Christmas tree.

It was the end of me as a local window cleaner and the beginning of a successful enterprise that has grown ever since!