Why Pressure Washing Your Windows Is a Bad Idea

Fall is in the air in North Texas — along with large quantities of pollen. If your windows are in need of a good washing, you may be wondering which method works best. Some people swear by window cleaning pressure washing, but, in fact, pressure washing can cause major damage to your windows.

People use pressure washers to clean windows all the time. A quick search on the internet will yield numerous blog posts and YouTube tutorials which offer tips and step-by-step instructions on window cleaning and pressure washing. However, that same search will yield just as many posts detailing why you should avoid using a pressure washer on your windows. And even the “how-to” posts caution that pressure washing isn’t suitable for all windows.

There are a number of factors you must take into account before you decide to use a pressure washer on your windows.

First of all, you must consider the condition of your windows. While aluminum or vinyl window frames don’t usually pose a problem, wooden window frames often require special treatment. If, for instance, a window has chipped or peeling paint, the water force from pressure washing can damage the exposed wood. It’s also essential to check the glazing between the frame and the glass to be sure it’s intact; otherwise, you could end up with shattered glass all over the place. Or, if you have double-paned windows, the high pressure can break the seals and allow moisture in, leading to fogging between the layers of glass. Finally, you must also be certain that the weather stripping on the window and the caulking around the window frame are in good shape to ensure no water leaks into your house.

The second consideration is your experience using a pressure washer on windows. Window cleaning pressure washing is not the same as pressure washing your deck or patio. For starters, too much pressure on windows can easily cause the glass to shatter, so you should never use a PSI over 2,000. Furthermore, you need to adjust the spray to its widest angle on a 40- or 65-degree nozzle and use a spray pattern that avoids perpendicular pressure on windows. While your angle can’t be perpendicular, it also shouldn’t be any steeper than 30 degrees because you don’t want spray getting underneath (and possibly dislodging) the window putty. It’s also important to use the proper ratio of cleaning solution to water; too much cleaner can create a filmy residue on your windows, and too little can leave them dirty. And since pressure washers don’t use deionized water, you may still end up with water spots on the windows after they dry.

An additional consideration is whether your home, in general, will stand up well to window cleaning pressure washing. As you wash your windows, it’s possible that the high-pressure streams can shoot underneath siding or into crevices. If that water finds its way under flooring or into insulation, it can lead to major problems like mold, mildew, or rotting wood. While pressure washing works well on decks, patios, and driveways, it’s not really an effective way to clean windows. Even many contractors who specialize in pressure washing siding don’t offer to pressure wash windows because they know the potential for damage is too great.

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