Commercial and residential window cleaners use a number of tools and solutions to clean windows, from squeegees and sponges, to soap-water solutions.
Super fine steel wool is another tool that’s used for polishing glass and scrubbing away dirt and contaminants. In fact, it’s very effective for removing microscopic debris and scum that can make your windows appear cloudy.
Of course, there are many misconceptions about using steel wool to clean windows. One of the most common questions we hear is: Won’t steel wool scratch window glass?
The short answer is no. But the key is knowing when, how and the type of steel wool to use. You’ll find answers to all of those questions in this short window cleaning guide.
How Is Steel Wool Used in Window Cleaning?
Steel wool isn’t necessary all the time, but especially on windows that have been regularly maintained. Essentially, steel wool is used as a scrubbing pad. After applying a soap-water solution to the window, a steel wool pad can be used to gently scrub the glass.
Due to its fine texture, it does a great job of removing tough stains, stuck-on dirt and grime, and it naturally polishes, restoring shine to the window. It’s often used in tandem with a window scraper, which will remove the larger contaminants. But scrapers can leave behind streaks and tougher stains. That’s why it’s recommended to follow up with steel wool to remove any fine debris.
When to Use Steel Wool for Window Cleaning
Ultra-fine steel wool is a powerful tool in the window cleaner’s arsenal. In fact, in a lot of cases, we use steel wool on every window of a residential window cleaning job. That’s not always the case, but there are times when steel wool is necessary, including:
- To Remove Streaks – Window razor blades help to remove stuck-on contaminants, but often, razoring a window can leave behind streaks. Super-fine steel wool can help you remove any streaks that are left behind.
- Stain Build Up – You might be tempted to use a scouring pad for tough stains like mineral hard water deposits. Most scouring pads will scratch the surface. Steel wool is the better tool, as it will cut through the stain without scratching.
- Polishing Window Glass – Steel wool helps to polish glass surfaces, leaving them shining and streak-free. Buffing a window with steel wool will help restore its sheen.
When not to use? Steel wool can damage some window tints and some coatings. If your windows are tinted, err on the side of caution and stick to a soft window sponge and squeegee.
Does Steel Wool Scratch Window Glass?
No. Steel wool won’t scratch window glass, but it’s important that you use the right type. You want to use super-fine #0000 grade steel wool. This is ultra-fine and lightly abrasive, and it’s commonly used to polish delicate surfaces like glass, as well as porcelain, stainless steel, copper and marble.
More-abrasive grades – like medium fine 0 grade steel wool – should be avoided. These aren’t designed for glass surfaces and they aren’t as flexible. They’re much more abrasive, and as such, they can cause scratching. In fact, the coarser grades of steel wool are often used for tasks like varnish and paint removal and rust removal.
Should I Use Razors on My Windows?
Razors are another common window cleaning tool. But they’re best left to the professionals. If not properly used, razors can pick-up debris like sand and etch the glass, resulting in visible scratching.
Steel wool is a better alternative. One reason is that due to its super-fine texture, it naturally rolls over sand and grime. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about etching the surface, as the pad won’t pick up the sand. Yet, you do want to be careful with large debris, like a small stone.
Conclusion: Leave It to a Professional
Using the wrong tool or technique when cleaning your windows can cause more harm than good. Scratches, damage to tints and streaks are all common problems that are usually caused when the wrong tool is used. If you’re ever unsure, contact a professional. A window cleaning company can help you determine the best course of action for your windows and the right tools to use.
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