Window Cleaning: How to Remove Builders’ Residue

Guest Post by Paul Routledge

You have probably put a lot of time and mental energy into the design of how you want your new home to look.

Many believe that windows, sliding doors and louvers are a key part of a good design.

As a window cleaner, I truly believe that windows can make or break the ambiance of a home.

With this in mind, the last thing that you would want to do is damage your windows during the construction process, or damage them during the cleaning process.

While post-construction professional window cleaning is ideal, it’s not always able to be included in your budget.

This article will help traverse some of the difficulties of removing builders’ residue and getting your windows clean for maximum enjoyment.

Preventative Measures

When you think about the sports analogy, “The best offense is a good defense,” it applies to your windows as well.

If you can be aware of protecting the windows once they are installed, you will have done yourself a huge favor by the time it comes to the end of the build. Here are some tips:

  • It is wise to approach your builder and talk to him about making sure that the different tradesmen take care when working in the vicinity of the windows, e.g. painters and plasterers.
  • Vacuum your tracks out periodically during the build so as to prevent a buildup of work site dirt and dust.
  • Protect the window panes and the window frames with a protective plastic covering. These are often available at paint stores and hardware stores. I would recommend doing this even if the windows come with a temporary protective plastic laminate.
  • Finally, never allow any metal grinding to be done near your windows. This tip is of the utmost importance. Hot metal filings will embed themselves in the glass, melting the surface. Once this happens, your windows are permanently damaged.

Time to Clean!

Finally, your build is over, the last of the tradesmen are finished, and all that stands between you and your new home is a final clean.

Before letting loose on the windows, it is a good idea to keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to scratch glass, so take your time to read the following recommendations and methods to avoid any problems.

Tracks and Fly Screens

The first step to take before starting to clean your windows is to clean out your tracks.

  • The best method to clean tracks is to agitate the dirt and builders’ residue that has collected in the tracks with a brush. You can buy special narrow brushes for this purpose from a hardware store, or, alternatively, you can use a grout cleaning brush or even a toothbrush. You can then easily vacuum them out. Repeat brushing, agitating, and vacuuming the sediment until the tracks are totally clear.
  • Now moving onto the screens. There are a few ways of going about cleaning your screens. If the screen comes out of the window pane, it is best to take them out, hose them off, and wipe them dry with a clean rag before putting them back in.

Security Screens

If you have security screens, it is very likely that you will not be able to remove them from the window.

In this case, there are two options.

  1. You can still hose and wipe them off in place but the tracks can potentially fill with water.
  2. If you would prefer not to risk flooding your tracks, you can give the screens a ‘dry clean’  by using a dry cloth to wipe off the dirt and dust first. It may be useful to also give the screens a brush with a dustpan brush to agitate any dirt off the screen. Once you have removed as much dust and residue as possible, you can wipe the screen off with a damp cloth; this gives the screen a nice even and clean finish.

Cleaning the Glass

  • By now, you are ready to prepare a window cleaning solution. Take a clean bucket and fill it three quarters full with warm water. Take a bottle of dishwashing liquid – I personally prefer ‘Morning Fresh’ – and squirt the bottle into the bucket for around seven or eight seconds. Now you’ve got the secret ingredient to removing builders’ residue: dishwashing liquid.
  • You will need something to apply the soapy water to your windows. You can use a sponge, a rag or, if you have access to a cleaning supplies store, a window cleaning ‘applicator’ mop. Take whatever you choose and lightly apply the soapy water to the window. Don’t scrub too hard on this initial ‘pass’ over the window, as you don’t want to pick up a piece of sand or residue and rub it over the glass (this can cause scratches).
  • Now we’ve reached the fun part! It’s time to squeegee your windows. Having a decent quality squeegee is key to removing builders’ residue from your windows. Your window should now be covered in the soapy water solution. Starting from the top of the window, drag the dirty water down to the bottom of the pane. Don’t use too much pressure; again, you don’t want to grind a piece of sand or residue down the glass.
  • After squeegeeing the glass off once, you should be able to step back and take a look at the glass. What residue is left?
  • If there is paint or sticker adhesive left on your window, you can use a clean razor blade to remove this residue. ALWAYS test the razor blade for scratching on a little section of glass that is out of the normal line of sight: perhaps a bottom corner. Only ever move the blade upwards or downwards, or horizontally across – never on a diagonal. Also, only scrape a small section at a time, cleaning the blade after each repetition as you go.

If the sticker leaves a sticky residue on the glass, this can be handled by rubbing the residue off with a wet rag or using a rag to apply rubbing alcohol.

  • One last trick to removing builders residue is steel wool. You may think that this is an abrasive material, why would I use it on glass? The key is to buy a “super fine grade” steel wool. This acts like a buffer on the glass rather than an abrasive. Again, it is best to test a little bit of glass somewhere out of the way before going crazy with the steel wool.
  • These same techniques will also work for mirrors. This is helpful if you have installed big bathroom mirrors or sliding wardrobe mirrors.


Professional window cleaners use these techniques for great results!

Through preventative measures and these professional window cleaning techniques, along with being careful and taking your time, you will be able have sparkling clean windows at the end of your build or renovation.


Guest Post Bio

Paul Routledge, Owner/Operator of Twenty20 Window Cleaning.

Paul along with his wife Jess run a successful window cleaning business on the Gold Coast, Australia and is passionate about window cleaning and growing his business.

In his spare time he shares his passion for window cleaning through tutorial blog articles, while drinking coffee.