Don't neglect your window cleaning this winter

With winter in full swing, you’ve likely turned your attention – and that of your maintenance staff – to some major seasonal operations. Ensuring walkways are clear of snow and ice and your HVAC system is operating at peak efficiency are important, but you shouldn’t overlook the smaller yet equally important tasks as well.

You may not consider window cleaning to be a top priority during the winter months, but you shouldn’t put it off. Winter weather, especially snow and sleet, can positively batter the look and sometimes even efficacy of your windows. This can lead to a variety of issues, both aesthetic and maintenance-related. Don’t forget to save some space in your wintertime operations budget for professional window cleaning. The building experts at Clean & Polish Building Solutions can provide this valuable service for your facility. Here are some of the benefits of regular winter window cleaning.

Salt stains are a huge maintenance concern during the winter.Salt stains are a huge maintenance concern during the winter.

Fight back against winter
No matter what your stance on winter weather is, almost nobody likes dealing with the sleet and slush that cover urban centers around mid-winter. The tell-tale muddy, sandy snow gets tracked everywhere – your carpets, your floors – and it can even end up on your windows.

Sleet, snow and ice are perhaps the biggest reasons you’ll need to keep up with your regular window cleaning in the winter. Just like heavy rain in the spring and summer, excessive precipitation can leave your windows streaked, and when the water evaporates it can leave behind mineral deposits that produce unsightly stains on the glass. Cleaning your windows can keep this aesthetic annoyance at bay.

Keep water damage at bay
If the thought of hundreds or even thousands of building occupants tracking wet, snowy, salty boots and shoes through the facility lobby and around its hallways makes you cringe, that’s understandable. This is especially true if your building is carpeted. While the carpeting is great for helping you keep your building insulated, which can improve your energy efficiency, floor coverings are much more difficult to keep dry than marble or even wood floors, which can simply be mopped.

What many facility managers may not realize is that the condition of your windows can have a significant impact on the upkeep of your carpets. Particularly buildings with many windows, like commercial office buildings, the natural light these fixtures allow to flood the halls provides more than just illumination. It can also help evaporate some of the moisture left behind in the carpets. Cleaning your windows in the winter effectively turns them into nature’s own carpet dryer.

Stop efflorescence
Efflorescence is a problem for many concrete and stone-front buildings. This phenomenon occurs when water permeates the surface of these materials. As the water evaporates, it brings salt and mineral deposits from within the stone and brick to the surface, which are left behind as a chalky white powder. This residue can also end up on your windows, leaving them looking streaked and dirty.

The good news is that efflorescence isn’t difficult to clean – in some cases it just takes water and some scrubbing to remove. But the key to getting rid of this residue is to act quickly. The longer it sits on your building’s surface, the more the chemical composition of the salts will change, making it less water-soluble and harder to clean.

“Being able to see the sun during the day can have a huge impact.”

Keep your occupants happy
Winter can do more than make people cold and wet. The colder temperatures, shorter days and lack of pleasing sunshine can also deeply affect people’s mood. The most well-known example of this phenomenon is seasonal affective disorder, which can cause people to feel more fatigued, less energetic and more subdued. One of the most effective treatments for SAD is phototherapy – literally exposing people to the vitamin-D-rich sunlight that they are lacking in the winter.

You don’t need expensive sun lamps to help raise the spirits of your building’s tenants. Keeping your windows clean will allow pleasing natural light to flood the hallways and offices. Even if your occupants don’t realize it, this can have a huge effect on overall morale. During a time of year when it’s dark both on the way to work and on the way home, being able to see the sun during the day can have a huge impact.

When to clean your windows
If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that it’s advisable to clean your windows “regularly” – but what does that mean? There’s really no hard and fast answer to this, and your specific cleaning schedule will depend a lot on your circumstances. Some of the most important factors to consider are your location, the climate and the purpose of the building. Typically areas that receive more precipitation will need more regular cleanings to contend with the efflorescence that often comes as a byproduct.

Your building’s function also plays a huge role in determining your cleaning schedule. Food service buildings, for example, should clean their windows biweekly – the dirt and grease endemic to these establishments can wreak havoc on a window’s appearance in a short time. On the flip side, commercial office buildings may be able to get away with biannual window cleanings, depending on other mitigating factors like climate.