Help with these windows *Smokers*

Hi guy’s I have been cleaning windows for several months here in North Carolina as a part time/weekend job. I really enjoy the work and hope this could lead to a full time business for my wife and I in the near future. I had a neighbor ask me about cleaning her windows for her and when I went to estimate her job I immediately noticed her windows on the inside were extremely dirty, like a nasty gunky film all over the insides. The family that lives there are all heavy smokers and I am thinking thats what it is, nicotene, the windows have not been cleaned in a long time and I told her I would see what I could do, I worked on the first window for nearly 30 min, washing, scraping, rewashing and while it did look better it was not what I would call 100% clean…and the time it took was way to long. Please can anyone advise me on any tips to help with the speed of cleaning these real nasty smokers windows and any products that help cut thru the nicotene grease and grime that is caked on interior glass. Any tips will be helpful and appreciated, I use ettore squeegees and rubber, 4" and 6" scrapers and I used several sleeves when washing from microfibers to microtigers, and warm water and Dawn soap, Thanks, Jim ShineTime Window Washing…hopefully going full time very soon.

I have not tried it, but I read on this forum that Simple Green mixed with your regular solution will do the job on smoker’s windows.

Amonia cuts through the tar.

I have used Simple Green (or Titan Green) successfully on smoker’s windows for years. It makes short work of it. Just spray a little on the window and scrub w/ your strip washer and it cuts right thru the nasty stuff. As a side note it will really do a number on your stripwasher (the smoke I mean).

Thanks for the advice, I understand what your saying about doing a number on the washer, they were filthy, horrible looking after just a few windows and my towels were almost ruined. I knew there had to be a better faster way, I will surely give that a try.

On windows with nicotine I like to use a foaming spray cleaner. The alcohol cuts through great, and you get good dwell time. Here are some pics from a smoking room at a nursing home we do.

add “heavy” Ammonia(as much as you and your customer can handle) to your dawn solution.(1/2-2inches in a standard spray bottle) it will cut through it like butter.

If its been 5+ yrs then its likely you will have to clean the inside twice. My method is to use a spray bottle and prespray the window in front of me liberally so it has time to cut through all the nicotine while I’m cleaning the first. If the prespray doesn’t allow me to get it clean without streaks/smears, then I’ll do a quick squeegee when I get to the window then respray and clean it.
Depending on how much buildup there is, it takes double/triple the normal cleaning time so charge accordingly.

Usually the frames are nasty as well and I tell the customer that my main focus is to get the glass clean and if they want me to scrub the frames I will. But, It’s going to get messy as you’ll need a wet brush to get into the routered edges around the frame AND that I charge by the hr to do it ($30/50/80-whatever your hourly rate is) and that the frames will probably be permanently stained from the nicotine anway(if been like that for years)
-That usually satisfies most customers and they say they will deal with it when they get the room painted.

Warning- Ammonia and natural wood finishes do not react well. It can break down varnish and sealers. Painted/metal surfaces are fine. If i use ammonia on a natural wood framed window I lighten the mixture and do not allow it to set on it any longer than necessary Also, probably not worth mentioning but better safe than sorry, ammonia will damage window tinting.

All that being said, I am an avid user of ammonia in my solutions when I can, because it breaks through so much and makes the job easier.

hope it helps.

Reminiscing here- when I started 20yrs ago, 2or3 out of ever 10 homes were like this. Now I’m lucky if I see a room or 2 with nicotine visible in a house in a year.(if that even)
Not as many smokers anymore and those that do seem to do it outside. Ya us.

Thanks for all the helpful info guy’s. I went with the simple green and foam spary combo and it really helped. It had been over 5 years since the windows had been cleaned and I did have to clean the insides twice to get them clean, but the customer was happy.