Glass Cleaning
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johnleeke
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:31 pm    Post subject: Glass Cleaning Reply with quote

Glass Cleaning, Wet Wash Methods

These methods and materials are for cleaning glass panes before glazing and painting. Can you keep a secret? At the risk of getting sued by the window cleaner product manufacturers, I'll tell you two secrets they definitely do not want you to know. But first, here are the basics of glass cleaning.

Soaking
To remove crusty putty and paint from glass that has been removed from the sash, put it to soak in water in a bucket or tank. It's best to put the glass in vertically, laying glass flat can result broken glass when you try to lift it out. Adding a mild detergent (such as Simple Green) will help loosen dirt and debris. Do not add vinegar or high powered detergent (such as Dirtex or TSP) because it may etch the glass. Usually an over night soak, up to a few days, is enough to completely loosen the debris.

Brand new glass does not need to be soaked, but it should be cleaned. It may have residues of the manufacturing process, and oil along the edges where it was scored and cut.

Hand Cleaning Methods

Safety: avoid cutting your fingers by always moving your fingers perpendicular to the edge of the glass, moving your fingers parallel with an edge will more readily slice open your skin! When wiping glass panes use a diagonal stroke, this keeps your fingers moving roughly perpendicular to all the edges.

Work Surface:
There are special sheet rubber materials designed and sold to cover professional glass workers benches.
"Make do" materials can include:
- a white terry cloth towel spread over any truly flat surface, white makes it easier to see the dirt you need to clean off
- foam rubber carpet underlayment
- (let us know what you use...)

Commercial Cleaning Solutions

Secret #1: All the commercial glass cleaning products are very costly compared to making your own. One of the Windex products can cost about 7 dollars per quart. You can make your own that is more effective for 5 cents per quart.

Cleaning Solution Recipes:

3 drops dish detergent, 4 oz of alcohol, a tablespoon of vinegar in about 12 ounces of water --Jade Mortimer, professional window specialist

28 ounces water, 1 TBS white vinegar, 4 ounces alcohol, 2 drops of dish detergent. The alcohol makes it dry streak free and removes grease and other substances that detergent and water won't. You will like the results. --Dave Bowers, professional window specialist

Water. Ordinary drinkable tap water usually works well. Fresh distilled water is non-ionic and can clean better with less damage to the surface in difficult cleaning situations.

Alcohol. Alcohol acts as a wetting agent so the solution "wets" the glass surface more readily, and as a solvent for oils. Perhaps the best type is Ethanol (ethyl alcohol), as sold at paint shops for use as a solvent. Many window specialists use the more readily available rubbing alcohol, which can contain isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), oils and other additives that can leave a residue behind. If you are getting streaking from your washing solution and are using rubbing alcohol, try switching to ethanol.

Vinegar. If you put vinegar in your cleaning solution and have problems with your paint peeling up along the glass, give your glass a final mist and wipe with a solution of plain distilled water with just a bit of alcohol.

Ammonia. Household ammonia (dilute ammonium hydroxide) is also an ingredient in many window cleaning formulas. It is more caustic and hazardous than other ingredients and not recommended for glass cleaning unless needed to solve specific cleaning problems.

Secret Ingredient. OK, this is the secret ingredient the window cleaner manufacturers absolutely do not want you to know about. When mixing up your own cleaning solution don't forget to add this powerful secret ingredient: 1/4 drop blue or green food coloring. Yes, that's right, it's just food coloring! Without it you just cannot get your glass clean, but with that blueish-greenish tint you've got real CLEANING POWER. Of course, if you also want the KICK of SPARKLE you have to dispense your solution from one of those fancy window cleaner spray bottles with the sexy-curvy shape. Oooh, la la! (Sure it's "sexist" but who cares if it cleans the glass?) Spritz, spritz. Now that's what I call clean!"

Wiping With...
- Paper towels, they work, but for me they are too costly in dollars and environmental damage for regular use
- old newspapers, they work, some workers love them, some workers don't
- used cloth diapers, very effective, available at diaper service companies, launder and reuse
- old cotton T-shirts, very effective, launder and reuse
- microfiber cloths, from the auto parts store, launder and reuse
- What's with all this wiping stuff? Real Window Washers use a squeegee!

Scraping

Before scraping put a little soapy water on the glass to avoid scratching it.

Use ordinary single-edged razor blades in a handled holder. 3" and 4" wide razor scrapers can speed production on larger panes of modern flat glass, but may skip or scratch on older wavy glass that is not truly flat.

Dull and ragged razor blades can scratch some softer glass types. Replace blades before they get dull.


Methods:

Spray cleaning solution directly onto the glass if the glass is not already wet from the soak tank. Remove heavy debris and soiling with a scraper. Spray again, wipe off. Spray with plain water, wipe off. Set aside vertically to dry.

To control the water and 'mess' I spread a bath towel out over my bench top, and lay the glass on that, flipping the pane over edge-for-edge, cleaning each side and flipping it on over to the right after cleaning each side, onto cleaner parts of the towel. First I scrape off any remaining paint and putty, then wash each side twice. I have 3 or 4 towels I use for this and launder them when they get dirty. Lead-safe work: the towels are very effective at catching and holding any lead-containing debris. They are laundered separately from household laundry.

Steam Cleaning
If you have a steam box or steam chamber for deglazing you can use it for cleaning off stubborn residue. Spray your cleaning solution on both sides of the panes, then set them vertically in the box so steam can reach both sides and steam away! The panes could be steamed while steaming the next set of sashes. Scrape and clean as soon at they come out of the steam. Do not use the portable steam head, the differential heating of hot in one spot is too likely to crack the glass.

Sonic Cleaning
Some shops are using sonic cleaning tanks to reduce glass cleaning time. The sonic equipment vibrates the water at extremely high frequencies, which helps loosen the debris. The time saved can be dramatic. The equipment is not inexpensive, so you have to be cleaning a lot of glass to justify the capital expenditure.

Cleaning Tips

Hot tips just in from Bron in Indiana:
My grandmother, who ran a hardware store, used whiting and water as glass cleaner, work it, let dry, then she would buff it off. An old picture framers tip, having trouble cleaning that glass, sprinkle some whiting on with your regular cleaner, and wash as normal. I use the microfiber clothes, one that gets pretty wet, then a dryer, second cloth to polish, and the whiting added to the formula presented earlier, will even remove masking tape goo.

"I keep some whiting in a pint container and just dab a dampened rag in it for cleaning when needed. Works great!" -- Andy Roeper, professional window specialist

Cleaning paint off of glass:

"We use a commercial vc4000c vapor steamer to remove old paint from windows." --Fiorella, Any House Cleaning Services, Winter Park, FL

Stubborn Cleaning Problem?
Instead of guessing, get systematic. Look at it with a pocket microscope to see physically what it is and what the surface of the glass is like. (a deposit of mastic film on smooth glass with grit on top, or porous glass surface with embedded paint binder and pigment, etc.) Try three completely different methods (mechanical, chemical, light). Select the one that works best and try three completely different variations (CHEMICAL: acid, caustic, solvent; MECHANICAL: white melamine plastic sponge, brass brush, lubricated scraper; LIGHT: infra-red for heat, ultra-violet for chemical bond breakdown; etc., etc., etc.) No progress? Then try some combinations: the mildly caustic ammonia plus ultra-violet light, etc.
Within a hour you should have something that works.

More discussions on cleaning glass:
http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10124

Discussions on washing windows:
http://www.oldhouseweb.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=29014

What are your favorite glass cleaning methods and materials?

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought


Last edited by johnleeke on Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:31 pm; edited 29 times in total
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sschoberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 569
Location: Plymouth, Indiana

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And being open to good ideas on how to best clean glass. I remember when I first began I agreed on a lower than usual price for an afternoon of helping an older lady to the spring cleaning of her windows. I went well equipped with my wife's formual of window cleaner but took along half a dozen rolls of paper towels. I remember taking apart the first storm window and spraying the cleaner on the glass of the top sash. I grabbed the roll and started to wipe off cleaner from the glass and I heard her voice in back of me, actually right in back of me sort of over my shoulder to the right. "Honey what are you doin with those?" What, what do you mean I said. "My Lord, let me show you the proper way, I don't want to look through streaks on my glass" and she grabbed a hand full of newspapar, crumpled it up and went to town wiping that glass.
"This is how to do it, sweety she said. You won't streak up my windows this way". Well, I finished up her windows, with the rest of her newspapers and got to eat some home baked cookies to boot. It was a good afternoon-------yes it was.

Steve S
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Skuce



Joined: 08 Nov 2009
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Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Newspaper really is one of the best materials to use. Without the print if you can.
Old trick from my car detailing days.

I'll post up my 1st flyer design.

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In past days the newspaper had oil-based ink, which helped the window cleaning some how. Now the ink is acrylic-based (just like the difference between oil-based paint and acrylic-based paint) and now the cleaning result is different. Some have said it does not work as well, others say there is no difference.

Do you use newspapers with print? How does it work?

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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sschoberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
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Location: Plymouth, Indiana

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had gotten away from using newspaper for cleaning glass, don't know why, probably cuz we haven't had enough and its to easy to go buy a big bundle of processed trees at .79 ROLL.

But Jeff just got introduced to using newsprint a couple weeks ago by one of his customers. She to insisted that he use them to clean her new storms windows. Ha He reported that they worked very well and I noticed a stack by his table.

Steve S
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TDL



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone ever try newspaper and vinegar to clean glass? I've talked to some people that only use this method. I may give it a try this spring.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vinegar is one of the old standbys, either straight or as an ingredient in glass cleaning solutions.

But, be careful. Remember it is an acid. In a few cases it has been found to be part of the problem when paint was failing at the seal between the putty and the glass. The paint we usually use for sash is formulated to resist weathering, not aggressive cleaning chemicals.

In any case, wait at least six to nine months before washing the glass in newly glazed and painted sash, to assure longest life for the paint and putty. This gives a chance for the paint to fully cure and stabilize before subjecting it to aggressive cleaning chemicals.

When washing glass before glazing I guess it's no holds barred. Some shops are using ultra-sonic cleaning, often with plain water, sometimes with a solution.

Do you buy a glass cleaner, or mix your own? What is your favorite glass cleaner or solution recipe?

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by hammer and hand great works do stand
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cabinfeverarts



Joined: 05 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use whiting to get the greasy putty residue off. Then I may also use newspaper and a store brand window cleaner, if needed or at a later date. The store brand stuff only because I have it left over from when other people bought it. After that stuff is gone, I'll mix my own. But soap and water is just fine too.

I don't like how the whiting spreads into the linseed oil paint of the sash. Of course a wash and wax fixes this, but it's one extra step. The whiting is especially noticeable on the black paint.

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only use the polishing with whiting method when the entire sash needs to be glazed and painted, and I do the polishing right after tooling the putty and before painting. It sounds like you are you using the whiting when the face of the sash will not be painted, or after painting. That would be a mess.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the main discussion on glass cleaning and the best place to post your comments and questions.

Here are more discussions on glass cleaning:

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1452

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=3195

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=82

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=9120

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10124

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought


Last edited by johnleeke on Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ralph L



Joined: 24 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My windows had an ugly film from decades of baked-on pecan pollen. Detergent, vinegar, alcohol, plastic abrasive pads, and razor blades weren't working. The guy who cleaned windows at the local university suggested Brillo. To my surprise, it worked well without scratching, but you have to keep it fairly wet. I removed the glass from the sash first, which was a bear. Many broken panes of nice wavy glass and some scratches from my carbide scraper.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ralph, welcome to the Forum!

Thanks for the Brillo tip.

See this discussion to reduce glass breakage:
http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1587

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Bron



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
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Location: NW Indiana

PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enjoying the many tips and techniques presented here. Thanks.

I have had good success using the washable microfiber clothes available in the auto parts store and section of you local Big Box. They do a very good job on interior auto glass, as well.

I use the foam carpet pad for cleaning glass, and protecting things from marring on the workbench. I glued the foam to some hardboard, that has a block of wood on the end, so I can clamp it in the end vise.

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Bron



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:31 pm    Post subject: Glass Cleaning Reply with quote

Johns tip about using whiting to remove the oil from puttying, is great, and it triggered some memories; just took a while for them to surface. My grandmother, who ran a hardware store, used whiting and water as glass cleaner, work it, let dry, then she would buff it off. An old picture framers tip, having trouble cleaning that glass, sprinkle some whiting on with your regular cleaner, and wash as normal. I use the microfiber clothes, one that gets pretty wet, then a dryer, second cloth to polish, and the whiting added to the formula presented earlier, will even remove masking tape goo.
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sschoberg



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bron, You're OK in my book. I like your pizazz!

Thanks for the glass cleaning tip. I enjoyed our conversation today.

Steve S
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