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Not just outdoors28th of June 2012
Ann Laffeaty finds out about the increasingly sophisticated window cleaning systems on the market that can be used for cleaning the interior windows of offices, stores and other facilities without causing any disruption or water damage.
Traditional window cleaning systems involve buckets, squeegees, detergents and plenty of water. Even water-fed pole systems – which require no detergents – still result in water being sprayed on to windows with the excess left to run down the outside of buildings. Yet an increasing number of companies are opting to have their indoor windows cleaned by professional firms, sometimes while the buildings are still in use. So how do they avoid any run-off water dripping on to staff, equipment and furniture?
Indoor window cleaning systems are designed to closely target the windows to be cleaned. In general they only use a fine spray of liquid – usually pure water - to minimise the amount of moisture and eliminate the risk of water damage.
Unger offers an indoor system that allows window cleaning to be carried out at heights of up to 30 ft without the need for ladders. “Users simply fill their spray bottle with glass cleaner or - even better, deionised pure water - and attach their chosen pad to the pad holder,” said Unger European sales manager Dave Rogers. “They then spray the water directly on to the pad and begin cleaning.”
The Unger system uses either a microfibre pad with shorter fibres for regular cleaning, or a pad with longer fibres for periodic washing and heavy soiling. The pad is attached to the aluminium swivel head pad holder via a Velcro backing that fits all Unger poles using a thread adapter.
Pure water is recommended since it leaves glass and surfaces spot and streak-free without the need for chemicals, said Rogers. “Water is sprayed directly on to the pad which means there is little or no excess that can splash on to other surfaces,” he said. “And because the water is pure, you can simply wipe the surface until it is clean and then leave it to dry naturally.”
No buckets of water
However, he says it makes sense for building managers to take precautions to protect window sills, walls, furniture, computer equipment and personal possessions from water damage before interior windows are cleaned. “Though since our system does not rely on buckets of water as in traditional methods, there is less risk of any damage occurring,” he said.
According to Rogers demand is growing for easy-to-use, flexible indoor window cleaning systems. “Companies are looking for more efficient ways to keep their premises clean – and that means efficiencies in both time and money,” he said. “Methods of cleaning high interior windows that dispense with the need for ladders - but still operate in a safe way - are becoming more popular.”
He says there are many organisations that require professional indoor cleaning systems. “From the blue-chip global company that needs to keep the glass atrium at its headquarters clean, to the school dining hall with its high windows and the printing works with its roof skylights – indoor cleaning is becoming increasingly important,” he said.
“I think the sector will continue to make progress and take advantage of new technology and innovations both in engineering and materials to produce even more adaptable indoor window cleaning systems,” he said.
Managing director of Salki Leo van Hal agrees that indoor window cleaning is very much a growing business. The company offers the Aqua Clean window cleaning system which can be used for cleaning interior high-rise windows and surfaces.
Mineral-free water is transported to a microfibre glass pad cleaner at the end of a lightweight water-fed pole by remote control. “The system only delivers the necessary amount of water which means there is no mess,” said van Hal. “It also leaves a streak-free finish and the fact that minimal water is used helps to prolong the life of the microfibre pad.”
The Aqua Clean system can be used wherever there is a reach problem and where a conventional solution cannot be carried out, according to van Hal. “The system is easy to operate and it also saves time,” he said.
He claims the system is unusual because of its remote control operation and because it uses two fine-spray nozzles to deliver the water rather than just one. “The remote control system helps to control the flow of water to create an optimal result,” he said.
IPC Pulex has just launched a new indoor system which combines all the cleaning components into one hand-operated pole. Cleano, which requires no electricity or batteries, consists of a lightweight anodised aluminium frame weighing no more than 950 g; a 750 ml integral tank said to be sufficient for a day’s cleaning, and a telescopic extension enabling the operator to clean at heights of up to five metres from the ground.
A mechanical pump micro-nebulises the distilled or demineralised water while a cloth made from 'honeycomb' microfibre is said to remove oil, grease and dirt without leaving marks or smears.
Luca Bertesi, product manager for IPC Pulex’s Ultra Pure system division, who demonstrated the system at ISSA/INTERCLEAN in May said: “Everything is incorporated into one tool so there is no motor, no tank, no wires and no belts. It is also very safe since there is no need to
Cleano was conceived specifically for indoor use and the structure of the tool has been designed to avoid drips, says IPC Pulex sales and marketing director Loris Giustetto. “It operates with a minimum amount of water and can be used for quick unplanned cleaning during work hours – even in offices where the desks may be strewn with files or computers or while people are present - without having to interrupt activities or cause a disturbance,” he said.
No moving furniture
Lehmanns’ Lewi Indoor system is claimed to offer the best of all worlds – high-rise indoor cleaning capable of removing heavy soiling in difficult-to-reach places, but with no risk of water damage. The system comprises stabile telescopic poles, a vaporising system for demineralised water and a choice of microfibre pads depending on the level of soiling that needs to be removed.
“Cleaning is carried out directly from the ground and equipment such as buckets, washers and squeegees are not required,” said Lehmann managing board member Joachim Supthut.
“There is no need to move furniture before cleaning takes place - the microfibre pads and special spray nozzles allow water to be distributed evenly and precisely on to the cleaning surface without dropping any on to the floor.”
The telescopic poles allow cleaning to be carried out at heights of up to 10 metres, says Supthut, and the lightweight pump-and-spray system helps to conserve battery life. He says the system is widely in use in environments such as hotel reception areas, shopping centres, atriums and offices and can be used to clean staircases and other smooth surfaces as well as windows.
Brodex offers a portable indoor window cleaning system with a long reach option allowing cleaning to be carried out at working heights of up to 60 ft. The Misty system uses a fine mist of pure water that is sprayed on to the glass surface by 12v dc battery-powered water sprayers. The water is then mopped away from the glass by an absorbent cleaning head attached to a telescopic pole.
“The whole point of the Misty Kit is that it uses minimal amounts of water and there is no need to cover the area or move furniture,” said Brodex machine services managing director Sean Burke. “The water is delivered in a misty spray which is wiped away immediately.”
The Misty system comes in two formats: a low-level office internal Misty Kit and a high-level, heavy-duty Misty Kit using an eco trolley. According to Burke the system is particularly suitable for cleaning the reception areas of large offices and other establishments, particularly those with high atriums.
He says awareness of indoor cleaning systems is growing and he believes the sector is expanding. “I think all window cleaners will have an internal cleaning tool before long since this type of delivery can be used for various surfaces and applications,” he said.