Pure water window cleaning versus traditional — which is better?

Water-fed pole technology and pure water systems have been around for nearly 30 years, but the debate about which method is best still rages on.

What is traditional window cleaning?

Pretty much everybody will be familiar with the process of traditional window cleaning. It involves the simple application of soapy water to a window. Most professionals then remove the water with a t-shaped tool called a squeegee, finishing off with a polish from a microfibre cloth.Traditional window cleaning is still the method of choice for interior windows, and in many instances where exterior windows can be cleaned easily; for example, windows that are on the ground floor.

What is pure water window cleaning?

As the name suggests, this window cleaning method involves the use of pure water. Water is ‘pure’ when it has been filtered through a purification system to remove all of the natural minerals it contains. Pure water is sometimes referred to as ‘deionised’.

Pure water window cleaning technology started gaining popularity in the 1990s and is now the method of choice for a majority of window cleaners. This is because it eliminates the very things that antagonise all window cleaners: hard water staining and unsightly white spots.

These stains and spots are left behind as the mineral content in water dries. By removing them through purification, pure water window cleaning is able to leave a windowpane looking crystal clear.

Pure water window cleaners use telescopic poles to reach to high up windows, and must have water systems nearby that store the water and generate the water pressure to do so.

The benefits of traditional window cleaning

As mentioned above, traditional window cleaning is really the only option when it comes to cleaning interior windows. The traditional method is also really practical in tight residential areas, for example alleyways and areas with a lack of access. Many window cleaners also feel it is a more “hands on” method, and better at cleaning around the edges of windows.

The argument against traditional window cleaning

A common complaint about traditional window cleaning methods is that the cleaning agents often leave a clear film behind on the glass. This film is very difficult to wipe away and, paradoxically, attracts dirt. Meaning that windows cleaned via traditional methods might actually get dirtier quicker.

Traditional window cleaning also has some elements of risk. Instead of maneuvering a retractable telescopic pole from the ground, traditional window cleaners regularly have to climb and carry items up and down ladders. A traditional window cleaning job is not for the squeamish.

Traditional window cleaning often takes more skill than pure water methods. It can take many weeks of practice to learn how to use hand tools such as an applicator or squeegee properly. In contrast, a complete beginner can use a water-fed pole skilfully almost immediately.

Finally, traditional window cleaning can also be intrusive. Many people do not like the idea of being ‘caught’ by their window cleaner when at home.

The benefits of pure water window cleaning

A huge advantage of the pure water method is that window cleaners can keep their feet firmly on the ground at all times. This greatly reduces the risk of falling; serious injury and property damage.

Cleaning windows with telescopic poles is also less intrusive (interesting side note: at Buckingham Palace, window cleaners use 100 feet long poles so as not to disturb the guests on the higher levels).

The biggest advantage from a customer service level is that pure water does not leave marks. And it is quicker. Frames, sills, UPVC doors and glass can all be cleanedsimultaneously. Purified water is also free of chemicals as it doesn’t require the use of any detergents. Making it more environmentally friendly than traditional window cleaning.

The argument against pure water window cleaning

Pure water cleaning systems are more expensive to run, obviously, than traditional methods —as more equipment and technology is needed. Those systems will also need maintenance and check-ups, and there is a suspicion that the time it takes to set up and pack away the equipment negates the actual time saved during the window cleaning process itself.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that telescopic poles can cause back problems. Other common complaints include that having a trolley system in a van can increase fuel prices, vehicle insurance prices, and make it more difficult to park up near the site of a job.

In some instances, a telescopic pole may not be the best option anyway. For example, if a customer has safety gates over their windows, or a balcony window that renders the pole not viable. Instead, it would just be more practical to use a traditional ladder.


In my opinion, the debate rages on because people presuppose that the pure water window method is trying to usurp and replace traditional methods.

But that will never happen. True, squeegee sales have dwindled over the UK. But, as we have seen, there are instances and situations where one method is always preferable over the other. There are a lot of window cleaners who have converted to pure water cleaning full-time, but traditional window cleaning will never disappear. A dedicated and hard-working window cleaner will still be able to clean your windows expertly and finely, regardless of the method used

This article was written by Neil Wright of Pure Freedom, a company that manufactures window cleaning systems for professional cleaners.