Windows became a fixture of European architecture after 2000 BC, when Egyptians were able to perfect the art of glassmaking. As its popularity spread, so did the development of window cleaning tools.
While the first window cleaning products were no more complicated than rags and water, the earliest recorded “specialised” window cleaning tool is the horse-sweat squeegee from 5th century Greece. Initially used in the stables to groom and rub down animals, people realised that the long handles and absorbent material would also be very effective at window cleaning.
In the 20th century, the refinement of chemical and manufacturing processes brought about a rapid development of window cleaning tools and window cleaning products. In 1936, Ettore Sceccone invented the single-blade window cleaning squeegee. Other window cleaning product breakthroughs helped eliminate the common problem of water spots and streaks. These were the lint-free rags, micro-fiber window cleaning towels, and later window cleaning clay foams. These window cleaning products all promised to wipe off dirt while leaving a clear, flawless, speck-free window.
Soon even good old soap wasn’t good enough for window cleaning. When the automobile industry introduced tinted windows, it was necessary to develop a detergent that wouldn’t destroy or scratch this special kind of glass. This led to the ammonia-free window cleaning products, which was non-corrosive but was still effective in removing the stubborn water spots that often cling to the wind shield. This also led to window cleaning detergents for stained glass windows (which was a popular decorative fixture in the 1960’s) and frosted windows.
Today’s window cleaning detergents even promise to protect the glass from water spots by leaving a very thin wax that seals out moisture. The advantage of this window cleaning product is that it reflects light, creating a beautiful shine and making your house look literally “sparkling new.”
Homeowners can even purchase window cleaning kits that include fully automated window cleaning squeegees (“rotate to reach all the corners!”), no-drip window cleaning rags, disposable window cleaning towels, or even “soapless” window cleaning mops (the soap is activated by the water). Some of the window cleaning tools even have lightweight fiberglass handles, making window cleaning so much easier on the forearms. Other window cleaning kits include fully-extendable parts for window cleaning out of the way windows.
With all these window cleaning products and tools, the chore of window cleaning became much, much easier. Just in time, too. Modern trends in architecture seem to favor floor-to-ceiling windows that allow massive amount of light to flood the room. Plus, the development of high rises makes window cleaning much more of a logistical challenge. How exactly do you go about window cleaning when you live on the 25th floor of a condominium?
That is why there are companies that offer professional window cleaning services. They use lifts to carry them from floor to floor, while a safety harness prevents any undue accidents (perhaps from skidding on soapy water?). To keep their hands free, the professional window cleaning crew will often carry their tools in a practical pouch slung around their waists.
These people have banded together in professional window cleaning organisations, whose goal is to ensure that proper safety standards are maintained, and also to allow members to share the unique experiences that comes with their job. As part of this movement, these window cleaning organisations also have a code of conduct, newsletters, even conferences. For some people, window cleaning is just a chore—but for them, window cleaning is a passion.