Hard water stains

Had another learning experience today.

Small job that would take me an hour (I thought) turned into 2 hours 30 minutes.

I cleaned these 2 double hung windows and saw they didn’t fully clean so I thought it was hard water stains.

I informed the husband and wife and they both wanted those cleaned so I told them we typically use the hard water stain remover and a steel wool, that’s how I do it.

The husband goes to the store and buys it for me lol and I started scrubbing.

I thought it’d be quick but took longer than I thought.

Ended up scrubbing 4 windows. Got $20 tip and hopefully a good review but I should have made at least $200 from the job but made $170 with the $20 tip.

Not a big deal but still.

My main question is do you guys tell the customers on the estimate however you guys do it whether in person or over the phone about hard water stains?

What I mean is I didn’t know these 4 windows were stained (when I went on the estimate) I just thought they were dirty but when I went to clean them I saw they didn’t fully come off clean.

These customers were picky and it was too early for me to realize to say that hard water stain removal is extra and the husband went to the store and bought the items I told him lol.

I think going forward on the estimates I’m going to quote a lead say $300 then say this is a basic window cleaning service. If after I or we clean and notice some hard water stains we can remove those for an additional $20 per window. So if 4 of them are stained it would be $380 total. Or you may choose to just go with a basic window cleaning service.

I did those 3 with the hard water stain remover then the husband was like the kitchen window needs it too. I was tired and told him just so you know usually I charge extra for this service but you’re a referral and bought the chemical so I’ll do it for you. He was like “Oh I thought this was included, cleaning windows I would think would mean to clean them.” Lol no sir this is not a regular window cleaning service this is hard water stain removal and is extra. Usually we go about $20 additional per window, he looked a bit surprised was like “Oh and his eyes lit up lol.”

I think setting the customers expectations on the estimate is a big key. I already cleaned those 2 stained double hung windows at the start and they came out better but were a bit stained so me saying “Oh hard water stain removal is extra” at that point would look a bit weird / unprofessional in my opinion. And also that he went to the store and bought the items.

Going forward I’m going to say the little script above on estimates. So if I run into this situation again I’ll say I told you if some are stained the price is $20 extra per window if you want them removed. Otherwise we do a regular window cleaning service. And I also need to always have the chemical on me so if I run into the situation I can have it and clean it for the additional price.

You guys use the hard water stain remover and a steel wool as well to remove the stains?

And these stains are caused by rainwater when it rains and hits the glass? It stays on the glass and the sun bakes it into the glass as rainwater is not pure water and has minerals right? Just want to make sure I know what I’m talking about lol…

It was a total of 12 windows but 4 had the stains because I assume it was on the sunny side and could tell the sun bakes the glass. The other 8 didn’t have stains.

On a previous service I had about a month ago the customer mentioned hard water stains and to remove them so I charged accordingly for that one.

Are you guys able to tell if windows are stained on the estimate or you’re able to tell after you clean and see it’s stained then tell the customer it’ll be extra? I plan on telling them about this off the bat on the estimate

That’s restoration not cleaning. Restoration is extra for sure. I think best practice is communicating it when you see it and their choice if they are willing to pay extra, but yeah when I email or text estimates (usually they’re just verbal for houses and small commercial) it explicitly states it’s not included unless otherwise noted in the est.

1 Like

I can usually tell if they will need chemicals. Not always by just looking but by feel.
Sometimes I’m surprised because it looks like it will need chems but comes right off with
a bit of steel wool. I only charge extra if I need chemicals and then more
if I have to break out the power tools. Even if I don’t catch it when estimating people almost always understand it will be extra when I mention it. Some just don’t want to pay the extra and that’s ok.

1 Like

True, restoration not cleaning! Big distinction.


If you do a phone quote you should do a walk around when you get there for the job and inspect each window to verify the quote.

Paint, stucco, silicone, and hard water spots are always extra. Hard water spots can be etched into the glass and require chemicals or specialized equipment to remove - if possible - and is above and beyond cleaning; that is restoration. If it has not been on the glass long then it is easier to remove, but still outside of the job of “cleaning”.

If you find you need to run to the store to complete the job, then YOU do that, not the customer. That way there is no expectation of not charging, and you get to explain that this is something beyond regular window cleaning and there is a charge for that. It falls under the similarity of CCU (construction clean up), there is certainly an extra charge for that!

1 Like

This is what’s in all my estimates. Notice how it also says 1st and second story windows. I out that in just in case I miss sky lights or basement windows also. I also change it when I include them.

If Someone has a better way to phrase this I’d like to see it, but yes this needs to be in all your estimates. Otherwise they will expect you to get them out.


That’s a high tax lol

I definitely explain that construction cleanup and hard water removal is not included. I don’t get into screens or tracks I have one way that I clean all windows and people seem to be happy but I don’t want to over describe the cleaning process I just want to make sure they know scraping and restoration is different.

1 Like

This statement is like the opposite of what reality is, rain water has almost no minerals in it, minerals come from the ground, water that has been evaporated and falls from the sky is generally less than 10ppm, you can actually clean windows with rainwater without any further filtration.

The stains are normally caused by improper sprinkler placement or something similar as hard water stains are caused by the water evaporating and leaving behind the minerals over the course of many months/years. If the town water you are using is over 120ppm then repeated instances of that water hitting the glass and being allowed to evaporate will cause hard water staining in every instance.

Make sure you have a disclaimer on your quote sheets that what you are offering is a general window clean, mine states that no construction debris will be removed which includes but not limited to paint, concrete, silicone etc, also no hard water staining nor artillery fungus will be removed, also that screens deemed sun damaged or falling apart will not be rescreened at vendors cost.
I’m sure Mr Smith doesn’t take his car for a service and expect a engine rebuild.


The stains were on the second story of the house. You’re saying it would most likely have been caused due to sprinklers on the first floor sprinkling all the way up top to the 2nd floor which I doubt would be the case or the sprinklers on the first floor sprinkling water and then the water evaporates and hits the glass?

I also did hear that rain water is pretty pure but what happens is as it falls and hits the glass it absorbs the dirt and minerals which can cause staining if the sun bakes it into the glass.

Just want to have an educated explanation for future customers

You do no scraping at all? I was thinking about this actually…

I typically don’t scrape anything but feel like most customers assume its included.

Not even a light scraping of something that might raise your ocd lol?

I like this disclaimer, thanks

If they are on the 2nd floor then there is another source, are you sure its hard water staining and not screen burn, did the windows have screens covering them, if so was the screen mesh aluminium then you are dealing with the oxidation of the aluminium on the glass, the glass will be foggy type looking where as hard water staining will be many droplets of water that are mashed together they can look similar from a distance.
But are quite distinct up close.

1 Like

It looked almost exactly like this so yes hard water stains imo.

Just a milder form than the picture. Light hard water stains

They did have screens over the windows on the outside. They were bigger screens

I should have taken a picture

Well 100% hard water staining, I would surmise that the customers regularly hose their windows, unless wall around the window is really old stone or concrete that has been leeching but them you would have more like streaks of minerals down the glass as well, dirty rain wont cause hard water staining, the rain wont generally have enough time to absorb the minerals.

In any case when I encounter stains like this I advise the customer they have them, and inform them upon the next clean I would be able to remove them for an additional amount.

As it isn’t my reasonability to maintain the frequency they choose to get their windows cleaned nor can I see hard water stains under dirt.


They said they cleaned the windows last year, maybe they did hose the windows down I’ll have to ask. Curious why they were stained like this.

Are you able to tell on the estimate they have hard water stains or after you do a basic cleaning and see they’re stained?

When I went for the estimate I just assumed the windows looked were dirty

I personally don’t look that hard I count the panes, asses the tracks and how dirty they are, but I really don’t check for staining as I don’t carry my hard water stuff unless I a hard water removal is been booked specifically .
My area most houses are less than 30 years old, many are less than 10 years old, my quotes are based on the assumption that things are taken care of, when I book a job I will know around about how long it will take and will have another job booked after so my time is tight, I can’t hang out all day on a low paying job.
I also don’t like to tell customers that oh its gonna be more than I quoted, I’d rather book as a separate service for a different date, unless I have the time to burn, but always charge for it.

1 Like

Does the car wash scrape your car or scrub it? I wash the window if I’m hired to wash. Sure there is times when I’ll get a paint chip, or piece of tape but I’m not doing “significant” scraping for the price of a wash.


You are not a professional

1 Like

lol ok