Water-fed poles are becoming increasingly popular amongst window cleaners, and chances are you’ll have your windows cleaned with one at some point in the future, if you haven’t already. This article aims to give accurate information about this modern window cleaning method, including the advantages and disadvantages when compared to the traditional method, and to dispel any myths surrounding its use.

What is a Water-Fed Pole System?

A water-fed pole system (AKA ‘Reach-n-Wash’) comprises of a tank of purified water mounted in the back of a van, a hose, and an extendable pole with a specialized brush on the end. There are other components but these are the main parts. Purified water is pumped from the tank, through the hose and up the inside of the pole before jetting out of the brush-head. As the brush-head, with water spraying out, is moved across the window it removes the dirt and washes it away. After the whole window has been brushed the pole is lifted away from the surface of the glass, and more water is sprayed onto the window to give it a final rinse. The window is left to dry naturally, and because the water is totally pure there are no mineral deposits or other residues left over.

What are the advantages?

Water-fed pole systems offer many advantages over the traditional method, both to cleaners and to their customers. Here are the main advantages to having your windows cleaned with a water-fed pole system:

  • It’s safer for the cleaner as he can clean upstairs windows from ground level.
  • It‘s less likely to damage your property as there are no heavy, cumbersome ladders that could fall over, or be dropped whilst being moved from window to window.
  • Water-fed pole systems are much better at cleaning window frames than cloths, so this extra service can be provided for less cost.
  • It’s quicker than the traditional method.
  • It does not compromise privacy as upstairs windows are cleaned from ground level.
  • It is not necessary to dry windows, so there is no risk of cloth-smears being left on the glass.
  • It’s environmentally friendly as no detergent or other chemicals are used.
  • Unlike ladders, poles do not need to be used on even ground, meaning windows that are inaccessible to a ladder can usually be reached with a pole. Long poles can also safely reach windows that are up to 70 feet high, much higher than can be reached with a ladder.

...And the disadvantages?

There’s a flip side to every coin, and water-fed poles are no exception. Here are the disadvantages:

  • The cleaner needs to be able to park close enough to your property for the hose (usually 100 metres long) to reach your windows. This will not affect the vast majority of properties.
  • If there are very stubborn marks on your windows, such as adhesive substances like paint or glue, they will not be removed by the brush-head, so the cleaner may have to switch to the traditional method, and probably charge extra, to remove them. It is worth noting that extremely few traditional-style cleaners will remove such marks without charging extra.
  • If your window frames are very dirty, or if a film of detergent has built up on your windows from previous traditional-style cleaning, then it may take two cleans to leave your windows looking their best. This is because the brush-head may not reach all the dirt in any nooks and crannies in your frames in just one clean, nor might it totally remove a thick film of detergent in one go. The pole system will leave your windows wet however, and the water may pick up leftover dirt or detergent and run down the glass, leaving it behind in faint streaks once it has dried. This is a rare occurrence and the problem nearly always disappears after the second clean.

Overall I think you will agree that the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Finally, to dispel a few myths...

You can’t clean windows properly without using detergent

Because the water used in a water-fed pole system is pure it has a much higher solubility than tap water, which means that substances will dissolve into it much more readily. This drastically increases its effectiveness as a cleaning agent. Whilst it is true that detergent would be required with tap water, this is not the case with purified water.

Water-fed poles will leave marks on my windows.

If the cleaner properly maintains his system so that the water is always totally pure, and uses a correct technique so that all dirt is properly rinsed from the window, then there will not be marks left over except in the circumstance described above that relates to the initial clean. It is important to choose a window cleaner that not only has the knowledge of how to do a good job with his equipment, but also the patience and thoroughness to complete the job properly. Bad results are down to bad window cleaners, not bad equipment.

Water-fed poles are not sufficiently gentle on my windows and will damage them.

The only part of the pole that will be in regular contact with your windows are the bristles on the brush-head. These bristles are soft, made of a material that will not scratch glass, and arranged in such a way that they will not get small stones (or other things that could scratch your windows) trapped amongst them. Occasionally the brush-head itself may touch your window frames. The brush-head is lightweight and made from plastic; unless the cleaner is being extremely careless and your window frame is extremely weak, there is no danger of any damage being done. Lastly, water-fed poles are extremely lightweight, with most now being made from composite materials like carbon-fibre. The pressure put on your windows resulting from the weight of the pole is therefore very minimal, and certainly not enough to cause damage.

The water-fed pole is inaccurate and will not be able to clean right into the corners of my windows; the only way of doing this is to be ‘up close and personal’, and this requires a ladder.

The bristles on the brush-head are very flexible and will splay outwards when pushed against the surface of the window, meaning they can reach right into the corners. As long as the cleaner ensures he rinses the window properly there will be no dirt left in the corners once he has finished.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, I hope you have found it helpful and that you would feel happy to have your windows cleaned with a water-fed pole system, a technology with many benefits that can be confidently embraced by both window cleaners and customers alike.