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Ask the Expert: Tips for winter window washing.

Maintaining a clean and tidy storefront is important for making a strong first impression with your customers throughout the year. This becomes even more important at the height of winter when unsightly salt, sand and slush coat anything and everything.
Storefront windows can quickly become crusted with salt and grime during winter, making your store appear unwelcoming and unkempt. But how does one maintain a squeaky clean storefront when the temperature is well below zero? Sun Valley Window Cleaners President Ashley Burnell has agreed to reveal some of his closely guarded secrets that his team use to create sparkling clean panes in the dead of winter.
What does your team use to prevent the water from freezing while you're cleaning?
We use a proprietory blend of water, a surfactant (soap), and a methanol additive to allow us to clean windows in up to -7C provided that the building itself is heated. While I cannot reveal the exact formula we use as it took years to perfect, you can easily add isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or methyl (windshield washer fluid) to your water to prevent it from freezing.
Not even a hint in regards to what you put in your magic cleaning solution?
Sorry, a magician never reveals their magic! That said, we do have a recipe for a simple spray-on/wipe-off cleaner that we provide to our customers. The alcohol component allows it to work well during sub-zero temperatures. We recommend adding a capful of dish soap (Sunlight, Dawn or Palmolive work best), a quarter cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of either isopropyl or methyl alcohol to a spray bottle and fill with warm water. This recipe will create an excellent spray-on/wipe-off cleaner that you can use all year round!
Editor’s note: Be sure to read and follow all manufacturers directions for the products you use. This includes an MSDS—Material Safety Data Sheet—if provided. It should also be noted that any sort of alcohol (isopropyl or methyl) can strip paint and discolour carpet.
Can’t you just use hot water or a pressure washer to offset the cold weather?
We never use a pressure washer on any sort of insulated glass pane as it can cause the seals to fail, reducing the insulating characteristics of the window and allowing fog to build up on the pane. Using hot water can also put stress on the insulating seals around the pane. On older panes, the temperature shock of hot water can even cause the pane to crack or break.
Do you change your tools or cleaning process for the winter?
Just use lots of cleaning solution and work quick like a bunny before the solution has a chance to evaporate. The isopropyl or methyl alcohol will evaporate a lot faster than the water.
So, do you have any other secret techniques or tools you’re willing to share with us?
Quite simply, the best cleaning tool for windows, regardless of the time of year is the squeegee. The next best tools are clean cotton or microfibre towels (washed without fabric softener). Plan to use one towel per pane for best results. Despite what others recommend, we have continually found that the worst choice (for cleaning and the environment) is paper towel or newspaper.
And if we want our windows to be as clean as your team gets them?
Then give us a call and we’ll provide you with a free quote!