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About hiring a window washer

Everyone just adores a magnificent view, and keeping the sites crystal clear in the beautiful edifices in and around Chicago requires upkeep from professional window cleaners. Window washing may seem like a straightforward project, but because city buildings and suburban houses come in a variety of shapes, sizes and conditions, there are many variables for your service provider to deal with. You’ll want to review your situation with the cleaning service before he or she shows up to do the actual cleaning.

Do your homework

Before contacting any window washers, you should note some facts about your windows. How many do you have? Are they storm windows or just regular ones? Do they have window guards? How many have grates? Are there panes? How many? Do the windows open in, slide up and down, tip out? Are they old or new? Are they dirty enough that they’ll need to be power-washed or scraped? Does your building have hooks outside the window to which the washer can connect himself and his equipment? If so, are they all intact? Taking these factors into consideration, the service provider should give you a rough “guestimate” over the phone. If you omit any information, the work may end up costing more than the original quote once they come visit for the formal estimate.

It’s customary for window washers to provide a free estimate, but you may want to confirm this on the phone with the service provider, too. Once they inspect the job to be done, they should be able to provide you with a written estimate. Getting the estimate in writing will help prevent unexpected charges later. For example, the service provider could claim that the job was more involved than expected, and try to charge a higher fee after the work is done.

What should I expect?

You’ll also want to ask the service provider a few questions before signing any contracts. Inquire about the length of time they have been in business (the longer, the better), where most of their customers are located and whether they can provide references. The references will help you get an idea of how reliable they are: how long it takes to schedule an appointment, whether they get the work done on time and thoroughly, whether they clean up after themselves. We discovered that the window washers we listed didn’t vary enormously; you might have to wait longer for an appointment with one company than another, but they all received good reviews from customers.

Be sure that your service provider is fully insured and can show proof of worker’s compensation and liability insurance. If they do not have this coverage, you may be responsible for any accidents that happen on your property. There is no specific license or certification for window cleaning companies other than filing to operate as a business with the Department of Labor.

On Cost

There are three general methods of pricing: per window, per job or per hour with an estimate of the time necessary to complete the job. In addition, some companies have minimums and/or charge for estimates. The most common method of pricing is a basic rate per window that is usually based on window size. It is a good idea to inquire about a discount if you have a larger job (20 or more windows), as many vendors will negotiate a better price if there is a substantial amount of work to be done. For a basic 6-over-6 window (a window that has two frames that slide up or down, each with six separate panes) with no window guards, paint or unusual amounts of dirt, you can expect a price range from $4 to $15 per window, with the majority of vendors charging $8 to $10. Most of Chicago’s homes have storm windows and a window washer may charge from $10 to 20 to clean a storm window inside and out.

Preparing for window-washing day

Once you have set up an appointment, clear a path to the windows to prevent mishaps. Move that antique table with the priceless lamp. Clear objects that may obstruct access from sills and benches. Draw back your curtains and window treatments. Most service providers will show the utmost respect for your home and will protect your carpets and walls from drips and spills. If it makes you more comfortable, schedule free time for yourself on window-washing day so you can keep an eye on the process.

Cleaning Calendar

A professional window cleaning twice a year is usually sufficient, but if your residence is particularly exposed to the elements of city life you may need cleaning more often. Spring and fall are generally the busiest times of the year for this industry: an early spring cleaning will remove any dirt and grime left by winter rains, snow and frost, and a scrub in the fall will wash away spring and summer’s pollen, bugs and dirt. Be sure to call well in advance if you want your windows cleaned at peak times.

Something Extra

Window cleaners often offer a variety of other services, from cleaning screens and blinds to waxing and sanding floors. They might pressure-wash canopies, awnings, sidewalks, garages and greenhouses; do heavy-duty cleaning of gutters, carpets, upholstery and appliances; some do basic handyman services, house painting, and clean-up after renovations. If you are pleased with the company, you may have another project for them to do. Now that you can see through your windows again, you might notice all kinds of things.

Tips for washing windows between Professional Service Calls

  • Never wash windows in the bright sunlight. They’ll dry too fast and carry a streaky residue.
  • Use a squeegee instead of paper towels.
  • For best results, skip the store-bought spray cleaner and use a mixture of one cup white vinegar diluted in a gallon of warm water.
  • Sponge the cleaning solution onto the window with a sponge, then drag the squeegee across the glass. Wipe the squeegee blade with a damp cloth after each swipe.
  • For extra shine, rub window glass with a clean blackboard eraser after cleaning.
  • If you absolutely don’t do windows, share these tips with your housekeeper


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