November 12, 2014
Years ago, window cleaning was a year around business. My most often question was how do you keep your water from freezing in the winter. I usually responded “Jack Daniels”! We really use alcohol that came in 55 gallon drums and we would pump it out into our buckets before we left the shop at 6AM. The amount of alcohol we used from experience, depended on the temperature, wind chill and if the windows were plate glass with no insulation or thermal panes (double pane windows). We cleaned windows on the 21st Floor on a high rise downtown building every month that once was a high end restaurant. It was so cold that I even experienced frost bite on my thumb. What I noticed was on our monthly cleaning, the windows were dirtied up with road salt, even up 21 floors! One customer called me on April 1st one year and said we need our windows cleaned as soon as possible because the sun came out and my windows were dirty! I had to laugh to myself after seeing how the road salt accumulates on windows. The days were getting longer and the sun is out more, and this customer finally noticed how bad her windows looked after neglect all winter.
Cleaning windows is almost like keeping your car clean. If you wash your car once a week in the winter, most of the road salt and sand will come off fairly easy. If you wash your car only every six weeks or so, you will notice not everything is removed, and it might even take an extra trip through the carwash. Window cleaning is the same. When I tell people we clean the windows on the high rise buildings, they ask “ how many times do you have to do that and when you get done do you just start all over again?” We typically do commercial buildings once in the spring and once in the fall on the outsides. If for some reason the building only does one cleaning instead of two, we have to work harder and the job takes longer.
Our county we live in placed a smoking ban in buildings years ago now, and the windows stay cleaner longer and monthly interior cleanings turned into once a year or once every two years. Another influence on our window cleaning becoming more seasonal was the downsizing of corporate America. Besides cutting the workforce and lowering the payroll, people were also cut back on window cleaning frequency. The work season seems to get shorter every year. Our business had to start laying off workers in December and start back to work in March. Now we are lucky to stay busy into late November and start back up to work on April 1. Layoffs were unheard of until the smoking ban and downsizing.