History of the window washer

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window being washed

It’s mesmerizing to watch someone dangle down a 50-story building, cleaning the windows above passersby. Have you ever wondered if those windows are cleaned the same way you clean your windows? Or how window cleaning has evolved? With over a century in the business, Allied Universal is the best company to ask.

Glass has been around for centuries. It’s one of the oldest materials, with its discovery during the Stone Age around 7,000 B.C. However, windows didn’t become a mainstay in society until the mid-1800s. Belgian Chemist Ernest Solvay invented a cost-effective way to produce glass in panes. Suddenly, office buildings, churches, transportation states and homes were built with massive window facades. People quickly realized that the glass panes needed to be regularly cleaned; thus, glass panes helped launched the commercial window cleaning industry.

With windows popping up everywhere, Maruis Moussy founded the French Cleaning Institute in 1878 to organize professional window washers. This led to the formation of the Federation of German Cleaning Institute Entrepreneurs in 1901. The cleaning industry was experiencing tremendous growth at the turn of the century. The foundations these organizations laid helped make window cleaning synonymous with building cleaning. The two go hand-in-hand.

As glass became integral to modern ways of life in the 20th century, entrepreneurs were working to create new ways to keep glass clean. In 1933, the Philip W. Crackett Company created Windex. Originally marketed to car owners, Windex is still popular in households today. Another popular window cleaning tool is the squeegee, which was created in 1936. Italian immigrant Ettore Steccone wanted a tool that efficiently removed liquids and dirt with a wide, single blade. These new products significantly helped improve the tools used by professional window washers.

Allied Universal maintains the window facades of over a third of the Chicago area’s finest buildings. The company pioneered the development of many window cleaning techniques and is one of the few window cleaners to still own a repair shop. This shop ensures that their equipment is always in the best shape and able to efficiently complete the job. Window cleaning has been around for generations and now includes more than eight methods.

Window washing is a fascinating event to watch. From hanging down the side of a skyscraper, to using a ladder, professional window washers at Allied Universal have been keeping windows clean since the early 1900s. No matter the type of building structure, Allied Universal has the tools, equipment, OSHA training, and service to clean and restore any type of window project. 

Contact us today for more information about our janitorial career openings.