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How to Clean Leaded Windows

The dreaded leaded windows are pesky things to clean. We could end this article right here with a one word answer. 

How do you clean leaded windows? Carefully 

Leaded windows add a touch of character to a property, but unfortunately for the home vision technicians of the world - it makes windows more difficult to clean. There's not really a secret to cleaning them but there are best practices.

Though the following is focused on cleaning lead windows, the principles apply to any windows that are delicate by nature, such as Georgian and old wooden sash windows. 

1. Trad Cleaners - Be Over Cautious

Some leaded windows are made to look dated and fit with the property, and some actually are old and delicate. If you've got traditional cleaning equipment take it easy the first time around, avoid knocking the edges and frames and maybe rely on your microfibre a little more than you usually wood.

Traditional cleaning is generally lower risk on this type of window as you're that much closer - you're able to be precise with your work.

2. Water Fed Cleaners - Go Flocked

If you use a water fed pole, consider picking up a flocked or flagged bristle (these are a softer, less harsh type of bristle - see our Guide To Brush Heads for more information). The split ends of the bristle provide a sponge-like clean. 

Another thing to keep in mind is to actively apply less pressure and test out a few different motions when scrubbing, many window cleaners report cleaning side to side applies less pressure than going up-and-down and means you're less likely to damage the lead but the hard science backing this up is lacking so run your own trials (carefully, of course). 

3. Take the Lay of the Land. 

Natural materials oxidise and lead is no different. Watch out for powdery like substance when cleaning - Some soapy water should be enough for maintenance cleaning but get a good look around before you begin. 

Along these lines, it's also important to look for signs of damage from a previous window cleaner, take photos if you're on your own or ideally do a walk around with the home owner to scope out existing damage before you begin. 

Ask the homeowners if they've treated the window with oil or anything else, as this will also make your life more difficult.

4. Watch Out For Drips 

Water occasionally drips from a frame onto a freshly cleaned window and dries to leave unsightly spotting. We've all been there.

Unfortunately with leaded windows each line of leading acts as a frame from which water can (and will) drip. To stop this happening we recommend spending extra time rinsing so that only pure water is left to drip - or going over quickly with a microfibre cloth to remove the bulk of the water from the lead/frame and limit the chance of this happening. 

Some window cleaners use a double-rinse technique whereby they will go back around the windows a second time just to rinse and wash away any last dregs of dirty water. 

And there you have it

You're prepared to go clean even the oldest and most delicate leaded windows out there! 

Check out some our information hubs for other handy tips. 

Starting a Window Cleaning Business

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Understanding Pure Water Window Cleaning