Cleaning upper story windows from inside

My name is Jay, and I’m new here - this is truly a great resource! I recently saw a video of an experienced window cleaner who cleaned the outside portion of an upper sash of a double hung window from inside the structure, rather than cleaning from the outside with a ladder. Is this a good strategy for someone who doesn’t have ladders, but is trying to get their window cleaning business started?

Was it a double hung where the panes flip in? If so, that’s an easy way to do those if they are in good condition. Sometimes their old and busted, so you have to be careful rotating them in so that they stay seated properly in the rotating mechanism.

Although it is handy being able to clean the outside of a window from the inside of the house, don’t bank on that as a way to get out of buying a ladder. You’d have better luck at avoiding ladders by incorporating pure water and waterfed poles into your business. Until then, plan on buying a ladder or two at heights that you are comfortable with.

Great! Thanks for the insights. I definitely want to invest in some ladders, but I’m trying to figure out how to generate some cash flow by using alternative approaches, in the beginning. I know I’ll need ladders for eyelids and other window types that don’t open. I am considering restricting my work to two story structures in the beginning, because of the lack of ladders. Can I get by with an extension pole (20+ feet) for indoor and outdoor applications?

I wouldn’t. It takes a lot of skill to use a pole effectively and still get good results.

You can probably pick up a 24’ ladder on craigslist for $80. Get a quick-click Werner ladder stabilizer for $50 and you’re in good shape. Those two things will get you at 90% of the two-story work you’ll come across.

cleaning eyelid windows and other windows that don’t open using a pole and some specialized squeegee is certainly an alternative but also takes some skill. Wagatil squeegees and zero degree squeegees come into play here.


your answer is yes and no. most commercial glass can be done with a pole on the outs, sometimes you can get away with a few uppers using a pole on tall inside stuff. Residential glass is trickier, sometimes a pole will work on the outs, sometimes the frames weep or pull white off the vinyl. What works once won’t the next time the sun is out, and vice versa.

Your gonna need that ladder eventually, might as well pull the trigger, get your jobs done correctly and not risk losing an account.

good luck


Jay like the other folks have stated in the other replies you can do pole work for some windows and other times a pole just won’t work because of direct hot sunlight,obstacles that are in the way ect…
the key in window cleaning is to have the right tools do the job the first time. so you don’t have to say sorry [I][B]“Im a window cleaner that can’t clean that one window because I dont have the right tool,ladder ect.” [/B][/I]
So try to figure a way to purchase a 24’ ladder and/or WFP so you can do the job right the first time. For safety reasons WFP is the way to go for outside windows. Good luck.

for reaching high windows your shopping list should go like this (In order of importance):
-24’ extension ladder
-ladder stabilizer
-16’ extension ladder or little giant
-32’ extension ladder
-ladder levelers or ladder pivot
-pure water/wfp setup

some here might argue that the wfp is more important. i disagree.

ask yourself: what percentage of my work can [I][B]only[/B][/I] be done with a ladder? now compare that figure with the percentage of your work that can [B][I]only[/I][/B] be done with a wfp. Which figure is higher? the first, by a wide margin.

I love my wfp/pure water setup, but I ran a successful business for a decade before I had one.

Thanks, again for all the great input and advice. I know I can’t afford WFP, yet. But, will hopefully grow towards that. My business is still in the conceptualization phase (I have a name picked out and a lot of gumption, but limited moolah, so I am trying to figure out how to get going, AND do quality work with the resources I have at my disposal). Perhaps I should just stick to one story storefronts for now.

I do have a mop, a couple of Unger squeegees, and a bucket (I haven’t gotten a pole yet - have been trying to determine the best length(s)). Maybe I simply need more stuff before I move anything further.

@c_wininger is spot on

I clean glass from the inside all the time, but banking on it always being a possibility is a no go.

start with a broom handle, go to ‘whatever-Mart’ and get a telescopic carwash pole for 15 bucks and … and… PRACTICE WITH IT UNTIL YOU CAN GET THE FEEL OF IT.

if you haven’t pulled 2nd story glass before, don’t just go do it. get the feel of it, it’s not hard to do, it just takes a little practice.

Good luck, you’ll get it.


I went a number or years without a ladder. Didn’t do many houses early on, but did some. I’m not quite sure how I pulled it off, but I guess the gumption factor was strong enough. In the same vein as others have been saying, hurting your wallet will be very temporary. Getting an appropriate ladder is a MAJOR move forward. It opens up huge new possibilities to do better work and often quicker because of more direct control of what you’re doing.

I couldn’t indorse this more. I have said many times, if you don’t know how to fan a window, stand in front of a window and try to fan it until you get the feel of it.
I’m a tool freak, and I have one of everything. The tool may make it faster or less hard, but your skill makes the tool work.

Thank you. I find more and more inspiration each time I come here.

By the way, I just finished doing my own house the other day (two stories with over 20 windows). I did it as practice (cleaned tracks and screens, and even learned now to pop out the bottom sash - they’re of the double hung variety). It was great! The sense of accomplishment with seeing my windows gleaming was tremendous. I totally want to do this for other people (and hopefully make a little money at it!).

*The only downside is I DID have a few panes I couldn’t get to because of their height - they will be perfect for practicing my second story pulls, once I get a pole.

Ladders are definitely on the agenda, along with better equipment and a more reliable vehicle, that’s more practical for wc work (considering a Ford Transit Connect, and a set of sectional ladders and a couple of Little Giants; my goal is to pack a lot of flexibility into a small space).

Anyone see any issues with my proposed set up? Again, I am very grateful for all the input. You guys are awesome!

you might have a hard time fitting sectionals into the transit, double check the length of the cargo area. otherwise it seems like a nice vehicle to work out of.

sectionals are great. if you can afford them, add them to the list i mentioned above. you can do without a 16’ and maybe even a 24’ if you have sectionals, though i like having all of them for versatility.

as for little giants, many here love them. I hate them and don’t own one. they are really heavy to lug around and can be tricky to set up by yourself. if you already have extenstions, then the upright mode is useless. a 4’ or 6’ step ladder is a lot lighter and easier to move around. the only really useful thing to me about a little giant is the ability to set up on stairs in stepladder mode.

i just prefer to use other means, but that one’s more personal preference.

get yourself a rack for the top of that car and a good cable lock. worked out of a volvo for years. the little giant is my go to ladder. nothing better for getting over bushes and flower gardens. much more stable than step ladders and with a standoff can replace several ladders [MENTION=24787]jayhaliburton[/MENTION]

Popping out a horizontal slider cleaning it on a beach towel on the floor or on an expensive window easel can be difficult and frustrating. Some don’t come out because of settling of house or the homeowner put up blinds to close to the window. Then the actual reaching out to do the stationary side can be one of the most dangerous things a window cleaner can do. Ask any experienced window cleaner: planning on popping out windows = PITA