Pressure washing windows sounds risky, and it very well can be if you have never pressure washed windows before. Pressure washers can discharge water at very high pressure and in the hands of someone inexperienced can damage windows, siding and more. If you have windows in hard to reach areas because your bushes or trees in your landscape, or windows on the second story and you don't want to get on a ladder, you may want to consider using a pressure washer to clean the exterior of your windows. In this article, you will learn how to clean your windows using a pressure washer without causing any damage.
Are your windows dirty?
At first glance you may think your windows are relatively clean, but after further inspection you can start to see the small build up of dirt, cobwebs, and bird droppings. Although there is no serious need to get your windows cleaned, it can have a negative impact on your life.
Your windows are your portal to the outside of your home and even glass that doesn't appear to be dirty can be dirtier than you realize. Even with small amounts of dust on your windows can start to have an effect on how well you can see. Windows can get a haze and impact the clarity of your view, and no one actually enjoys dirty windows. So now that we know that the windows need to be cleaned, lets inspect windows.
Inspecting Windows For Damage
Be sure to inspect windows the windows for any damage. Damage that could already be existing include cracks, chips, broken panels, damaged seals, latches, or damage to the frame. Be sure to inspect thoroughly because windows can be expensive to fix if they are damaged. If there are minor damages to the seals, they can be fixed with a caulk gun. For bigger issues, you should have your windows repaired before cleaning them with a pressure washer.
Preparing To Clean Your Windows
Before you can begin pressure washing your windows, you will need to prepare your property for pressure washing. Preparing your home is quite easy, here is a list of recommended prep:
Shut all windows and doors
Cover all electrical outlets
Move vehicles away from the house
Move plants and furniture
Ensure pets are safe
Remove window screens
This the same basic preparation for a house wash. You can learn more about preparing for pressure washing in another article that covers it more extensively.
Using the proper tools and equipment
Your house is prepped and you are just about ready to start washing your windows with a pressure washer. Before you crank your pressure washer up and start blasting water at your windows, you want to make sure you have the right equipment. Using proper equipment is necessary to pressure wash windows without damage.
For washing windows, you are going to want to have some type soft wash system that will allow your to spray a soap solution with a low pressure nozzle. This may seem complicated if you aren't familiar with soft washing, but the essence of a soft wash is using a pressure washer or a pump to spray water mixed with appropriate cleaners for each type of cleaning application.
Recommended Tools to Soft Wash
One of the easiest tools that most home homeowners can get to start soft washing is a foam cannon for a pressure washer. A foam cannon is a pressure washing tip that you can fill with your choice of cleaner and spray it on your windows at a low pressure flow. The foam cannon does a really good job of making your soap foamy to help cut dirt and grime. You can find get this highly recommended Chemical Guys foam cannon on amazon. The Chemical Guys brand may be a bit on the pricey end for someone who doesn't use a pressure washer much. You can opt in to get the Foam King foam cannon for about half the price!
The foam cannon isn't really intended to be used to spray far away and shouldn't be a primary contender for cleaning on the second levels or higher without proper scaffolding or lifts.
Another tool that can be easily purchased to allow you to soft wash is the X-jet. The X-jet is same idea as a foam cannon but it's more geared toward professional applications. It allows you to spray more cleaning chemicals or soap than a foam cannon because It has a clear braided hose that will pull your chemical right into the nozzle from your chemical bucket regardless of size. You can spray 55 gallons of cleaner and not miss a beat. The X-jet also allows you to proportion your chemical to water ratio based on your cleaning application making it a great tool. Oh did I mention that the X-jet M5 also has an adjustable nozzle to change from 2 story to single story spray patterns?
Downstream injector is basically the same thing as an X-jet but with a little less control of chemical ratios. The key difference between the two is that the downstream injector is not in the tip of the gun like the X-jet, but rather connected to the outlet of the pump, allowing your cleaning chemical to be pulled through your pressure washing hose and sprayed through a soft wash tip. If you are unfamiliar with soft wash tips or soap tips, you can learn more about different pressure washing tips in another article I've covered.
Washing Your Windows With A Pressure Washer: Details For Success
To have the most success, you are going to want to make sure that you are using the right cleaning solutions and make sure you are doing this at the right time of the day.
The Right Cleaning Solution
For many years people have cleaned windows with a multitude of different cleaners. Some of the most popular cleaners have been dish soap, bleach, vinegar, and store bought glass cleaner. Although you can use any of these solutions to clean your windows, ultimately the best cleaner for exterior windows is going to be bleach with a surfactant. A surfactant is what helps the bleach stick to the surface. Most pressure washing companies will use laundry detergent as a surfactant as a cheap alternative to some of the higher end stuff. Other soaps can be used, but laundry soap is approved to mix with bleach. Any soap containing ammonia should not be used as it can create a dangerous gas.
The Right Concentration
As a general rule of thumb, you want your cleaning solution to be roughly 0.5% sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in bleach. Generally, bleach bought at the store in the laundry section is 2-4% on average, so you will want that to be watered down a bit before you apply it. We buy 12.5% sodium hypochlorite concentrated bleach and water it down to 2 gallons of bleach and 3 gallons of water. This cuts our solution down to a rough 5% concentration. Then we inject that mix in our pressure washers at a 10:1 ratio. This brings the concentration down to roughly 0.5% which is perfect for cleaning windows with a pressure washer.
The Perfect Timing
Who said there is no such thing as perfect timing? When it comes to getting your windows looking great, timing can be more important than you realize. Cleaning windows occurs best in the morning before the sun has had time to make direct contact with your windows. This is important because if the windows dry too fast they can leave streaks and put your work in vain. I suggest washing the windows on the east side of your home followed by the south side before the sun has had a chance to shine directly on your glass.
The Optimal Procedure
The procedure for washing the windows will make a difference for how fast and good you can clean your windows. Once you got your pressure washer hooked up and your cleaning solution ready you can spray the solution on with your choice of soft washing tools. Start spraying your windows one at a time with your cleaner making sure you are thorough, hitting all the glass and trim. Go in an order that makes logical sense, top to bottom, left to right, etc making sure you hit each window. This should take roughly 10 minutes or so, especially if you have lots of spiderwebs in the corners.
After you have applied the solution on all of the windows on one side of your house, you can go back a rinse each window in the same order you applied your cleaning solution with a low pressure tip using only water. It is important that the cleaning solution dwells on the windows for about 10-15 minutes. You may have to apply chemical twice if its a hot day and the windows are not wanting to stay wet. After you have rinsed all the windows thoroughly with a low pressure tip and water,
you can repeat this process on each side until all of your windows are clean.
The Finer Details
You may be wondering is that it? And not exactly... you see using bleach to wash your windows is great but if your siding is dirty, it will be noticeably cleaner where you cleaned around the windows. if your home is already clean it should not change the appearance of your siding. If you notice you siding looks cleaner and its noticeable, you should just wash the rest of your siding while you have your pressure washer out to make sure everything turns out clean and uniform.
You can take your cleaning a step further by wiping down your window sills. The pressure washer will clean the glass and trim and get your windows shining but it has a hard time getting all of the debris that gets stuck in the sill. This is the one thing that I dont love about washing windows with a power washer but if you open your windows and clean the sills with a rag or towel after you wash them you will be left with absolutely clean windows.
Now you understand how to clean your windows using a pressure washer. Some of the main points to remember are: prepare for cleaning and ensure a safe working space, make sure you are using the right tools to perform the soft wash method, and lastly, make sure you are following a correct procedure for excellent results.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with someone you know who may be considering to wash their windows with a pressure washer. If you have anything you would like to add or ask about, please leave a comment!
Until next time,