Tap water to wash windows?

please help settle a friendly but passionate disagreement.

mike defiel and i have a guy in our area who “washes” windows with strictly tap water, no soap no nothin. i would not consider him a professional window cleaner washing windows with only tap water… i figure why even fill up a bucket with tap water… why not just bring your own nozzle for the hose and spray down the windows and then squeegee them off? mike claims he is a good window cleaner and his prices are fair but for every job i have bid against the guy he undercuts me by $4-5 per window which means he undercuts mike by $10-12 per window…

for example i went to bid a job for a woman with 36 12/12’s with storms and about 8 french doors… i quote her with my first time customers discount $585. she says here is “mr tap water’s” invoice from last year… it was $360. mike’s estimate would have been over $700…

here are my questions…
a) would you consider someone who washes windows with good old fashioned tap water a professional window cleaner?
b) would you consider his windows to be clean without using any type of solution?
c) how do you compete with someone who prices so low?

If you mean tap water with no soap - then that would be a little odd to me but…???

I would take more into account as far as professionalism other than if he uses soap or not. If his customers seem satisfied then I guess he is doing his job. I try and stay away from price shoppers, because there will ALWAYS be someone out there who will do it cheaper, and cheaper, and … you get the idea.

no soap, just tap water… how he hasnt scratched the hell out of every window he has scraped and “cleaned” is beyond me.
i agree people will find someone cheaper and cheaper… especially where i live… people are always looking for the cheapest and then wonder why the quality and service arent there…

It is possible to do it with plain water. Soap is not as crucial as we like to think it is. It does depend to a degree on the situation and how dirty the windows are. Without soap, it might require a lot more elbow grease.

I think some kind of solution is crucial if youre using a squeegee to clean windows. That guy must scrub his balls off. To each his own.

It is easy to wash windows that are pretty clean with no soap at all. Soap adds another element. If they are dirty that is a different situation. Try it and see.

He is not doing it to save money. In the past I have heard of other window cleaners that believed in water only, so this is not something new. They may have been using a brush though. As you said, to each his own.

A) not really
B) soap is crucial in helping w/ proper cleaning of impacted soils. If the windows are lightly dusty then it might work. They wouldn’t meet my standard of clean.
C) I don’t compete on price. Sell yourself as a trustworthy, quality oriented, wcer and let the other guy work harder for less money.

PS - On your other post you ask how this guy doesn’t scratch glass w/ just water? Of course you know stainless steel or carbon steel is softer than glass so it can’t scratch glass.

I think it’s a no brainer that using tap water only is very unprofessional. But why do you concern yourself with what some other window cleaner is doing? Just keep focussed on YOUR business instead of the “no soap” guy’s business.

I think you are quoting way too low anyway. 36 (12 over 12) windows with storms plus 8 French doors is an expensive job.

If I discounted my normal cut-up price down to .75 cents per pane (in& out)instead of my normal per pane price I estimate that gig to be $975.00 But why give her a discount for the first cleaning. That’s the one that takes longer than the following maintenance cleanings you do for her.

If she doesn’t want to pay what the job is worth then move on and forget about her. You can clean someone else’s window for fair price and do a lot better for yourself.

Let the lowballers have the price shoppers. Let the price shoppers have the lowballers…like the ones that don’t even use soap.

Just my opinion so please don’t be offended.

not offended at all… i think you are very accurate.
like i said its an ongoing discussion between mike defiel and i… i think its really only because mike likes to see if bringing up “mr tap water” gets under my skin haha mikes email today got me thinking which made me write the thread.

There is a “window cleaner” near me that uses just water and he claims his windows look good.

hey bill!
i dont get how a window “cleaned” with only tap water is a clean window… i dont take a shower, let the water run over me and say ok im clean… or throw my clothes in the laundry and put them on the rinse cycle and think they would be clean…
his business should be called “rinsed window cleaning” haha
maybe the windows come out ok but is it really clean?

It’s only natural that you and Mike are going to discuss Mr. No Soap and we all discuss window cleaning (or in this case window rinsing) here on this forum so that’s all cool.

But it wouldn’t be cool if you really let Mr. No Soap get under your skin.:slight_smile:

I use a mix of two soaps. I don’t think windows washed with tap water could be up to my standards.

PS - On your other post you ask how this guy doesn’t scratch glass w/ just water? Of course you know stainless steel or carbon steel is softer than glass so it can’t scratch glass

Your always one step ahead of me lol.

Your laundry is very different than glass. Glass is a very hard surface. It is not porous. You do not need a deep clean because everything is on the surface. If you can loosen, dissolve, and remove the surface dirt to the point where the glass looks clean, it is clean, because you can see everything and looks is what it is all about.

Also when you are cleaning yourself in the shower, you are concerned about germs and hard to get at dirt. Glass is nothing like that.

I can clean shopping center glass with no soap at all, and there is no way you could tell the difference. I will have to work harder on the grease, but that is another issue. The glass will be clean because I can see whether it is.

You will probably enjoy washing windows more with soap. I do. Soap smells good, provides some slide, and give you some foam to play with. Water only is just no fun.

Sorry about that Nick. All your talk about putting Mr Tap Water out of business got under my skin. Bob, Mr Tap Water, and I had a long conversation a week ago. His method does not leave ANY RESIDUE on the glass. His method is also very green and it also doesn’t smell, and his customers like that. He does believe in elbow grease. I have watched him work and the elbows are flying. He razor blades almost every pane he cleans and they use extra fine steel wool pads as needed. He vacuums ledges, washes screens, removes window fixtures with a cordless drill when necessary. He has a very loyal following. He has one of my old customers that has DH12x12 combination windows. I was charging her $725 and he charges $375. She called me last year and I couldn’t fit her in. He cleans her storefront windows but she prefered to use me at her home until I couldn’t squeeze her in my schedual. He can’t figure it out why people pay me more. I saw him having coffee last week and asked him how he felt about getting so much less when she has been more than willing to pay more in the past. I said Bob, you should ask for more money. He looked down at the ground and said, ya… He charges the same as us on everything but 12x12 combinations. Funny thing is he told me he knows that he is loosing his shirt on those 12x12 windows. I encourage him to raise his price everytime I see him.

all for $4-5 less per window than the market value…
your love and admiration for mr tap water scares and concerns me…
your comment that your windows and mr tap waters windows come out better than mine has gotten under my skin… i left that part of the argument out for the thread… you have never seen my work. you base your comments on scraping every pane on every window which we dont do. we have never been called back to a job and are growing our clientele by leaps and bounds. if you think mr taps way is so good i think you should try it. back on marthas vineyard we ran out of soap and used water… every window came out like “s”.
if you really thought he was your competition you wouldnt have given him as many referrals as you claim you have… you told me you dont pass work my way bc youre afraid you wont get the call next year so you pass mr taps name along thinking his windows wont come out good and you wont lose a customer… im going to save your number in my phone as “mr backwards”

So guys would you rather have your windows cleaned with soap and no razor and no steel wool or no soap and a razor on every pane and steel wool when needed?

Hey Nick, Bob charges what we change except for 12x12 combos. He charges the same for a 12x12 as he does for a 6x6. Another guy in Hingham charges $25 for 12x12 combos and he is a friend of Bob’s. Bob will go up just wait and see. I strongly disagree with Bob’s arguments in favor of no soap. I think you need soap, razors and steel wool to really make a dirty window sparkle. Leave any one of those items out of your bag of tools and the finished product will suffer. JMO

Soap and razor (w/ waiver) is definitely the way to get a dirty window clean.