Are you old enough to remember the bucket and squeegee? They were, along with an extendable ladder, the tools of the trade for your average window cleaner back in the day. So why is it that we don’t see them any more? This article takes a look at old and new methods of window cleaning and asks which is better.

In the 1970s and 80s it would be common to see window cleaners with sponges and squeegees, dripping suds around the outside of the homes of their clients, buckets swinging at the top of precariously perched ladders.

The squeegee made from wood and leather was invented in the early 1900s for the Royal Navy as a deck cleaning tool. By the 1930s it had been redesigned to be smaller, lighter and no longer made from leather. And in the 1970s when there was a truly national obsession with pride in one’s home, the squeegee became a mainstay of many a homeowner’s cleaning kit and it was standard equipment for professional window cleaners.

The advantage of using a squeegee was the efficiency with which it could glide across window glass, removing water and dirt and leaving it cleaned to a shine. Imagine trying to clean a window with just a sponge and cloth – it could take ages – using a squeegee, window cleaners could do so much more, so much better.

The water-fed pole was the next evolutionary, possibly revolutionary, piece of window cleaning kit introduced. It was invented in the 1950s and essentially answered the question: ‘So, how can we clean windows from the ground if we no longer want to lug our ladders around with us?’ The answer was to take a squeegee, stick it on the end of a long pole and add a hose that constantly dribbles water to feed it, and voilà. Crude though this sounds, that’s essentially it. Over the years the materials these were made from became lighter; they added an extending function so it can be even more compact when not in use and can reach up numerous storeys when it is. Then they started using less soap and more sophisticated water, but the water-fed pole has stayed fairly similar over the last few decades.

So, which cleans better, squeegee or water-fed pole? The answer depends on your priorities.

You see, in the era of the squeegee a window cleaner would use loads of chemicals and tap water to do their job, they’d risk life and limb on ladders, and they were severely limited in the number of properties they could clean in a day. In the era of the water-fed pole, window cleaners use filtered, deionised water (i.e. it’s had most of the minerals taken out of it) which is far more natural – it achieves very similar results to the chemical-rich cleaning methods of old, but without the environmental impact. Many window cleaners today also use harvested rainwater rather than tap water to lessen demand on the water supply intended for human consumption.

If you were simply to ask which cleans better, a window cleaner with a squeegee or one with a water-fed pole, there would be very little in it, but from a speed, a health and safety, and an environmental perspective, the era of the water-fed pole is far better all round… or at least that’s my opinion, what’s yours?

For all your window cleaning, external cleaning and jet washing needs, call London Window Cleaners 020 3954 2900.



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