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Clean and maintain my PVCu windows

What should I use to clean and maintain my PVCu windows?

Mark Pearce, Managing Director KJM Group explains why a little through life window care, can go a long way.

A window cleaner you would be
If you can see what I can see
When I’m cleaning windows

George Formby, 1936

Not everyone may share George Formby’s passion for ‘cleanin windows’ but a little occasional maintenance can go a long way. Energy efficient PVC-U windows are low maintenance but not no maintenance, and to make sure that you keep them looking their best, they’ll still need a little TLC.

Today’s thermally efficient double-glazed windows and doors come in a wide variety of styles and finishes. White PVC double-glazing and triple-glazing are just the starting point.  With a wide choice of foiled, low maintenance UPVC windows and door finishes available, you can choose from anthracite grey windows to low maintenance creams and woodgrain-effects, which bring timber aesthetics to low maintenance PVC-U and energy efficient windows.

What they share-in-common is that like timber windows and doors, they’ll still benefit from regular cleaning and a dab of oil in the right place. The great thing about PVC-U is that whatever the finish foiled PVC or white, you can put away you brush and paint or wood preservative!

Could I damage my PVC-U windows by cleaning them?

Let’s start with what NOT to do. PVC-U windows and doors are robust and will stand up to most abuses but you still need to apply a little common sense if you don’t want your windows to disclosure or become damaged.

We’ve heard some horror stories over the years, with well-meaning and industrious homeowners damaging the surface of their PVC windows by using aggressive cleaning agents.

Even something that you may use regularly around the home, for example Cif (or Jif, depending on your age!), can cause lasting damage. These cleaners use small micro-granules to shift the dirt a little bit like a scouring pad (avoid these too!) but on a ‘micro’ scale.

This may leave the surface of your white PVC-U windows looking clean but they will also leave small invisible scratches so that dirt will build up more quickly next time.

On foiled PVC-U windows, aggressive rubbing with an abrasive cleaning agent can erode the finish, significantly impacting on its lifetime performance.

What should I use to clean my PVCu window frames?

The best thing to do is to buy a purpose designed PVC-U cleaning product from you local DIY store or window company. There are stacks on the market and they’ll shift the dirt from your window frames without damaging them.

The alternative is to use warm soapy water (without bleaching agents) and a non-abrasive cloth or sponge. This will make it more work and won’t leave such a good finish but your windows will be cleaner without running the risk of damaging them.

If you are using a purpose-made PVC window cleaner take care not to use too much. It will be great at cleaning and lifting dirt from PVCU frames but using too much can loosen silicone sealants. Also makes sure that you buff away any excess.

Can woodgrain and foiled windows be cleaned in the same way as white PVC-U windows?

The short answer is in general ‘yes’ but always double check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

A trick of the trade is to spray foiled windows only with a small amount of spray oil like WD40. This will remove any remaining dirt while providing a protective seal, which will make cleaning in the future easier. Don’t use this on white PVC.

Five simple steps to brilliantly cleaned and maintained windows

  1. Open the window and check the channels at the bottom. These can become clogged with dust, small pieces of masonry and even cobwebs. Loosen material with a brush and then vacuum, removing any build-up
  2.  A general wash down with soapy water and a soft sponge is a good starting point. This will allow you to remove the bulk of ingrained dirt from glass, rubber and drainage channels
  3. Once dried, use a specialist PVC-U cleaner to remove any stubborn dirt from cills or around the frames using a soft cloth
  4. Use a specialist glass cleaner to remove any remaining marks from windows and a clean cloth or specialist cleaning roll to buff. Don’t use standard kitchen roll or even worse, toilet role as these are full of lose fibres which will impact on the finish. If you still can’t shift all of the marks use a flat Stanley-knife type blade to scrape them off but be careful not scratch the glass and keep it flat at all times
  5. Oil moving parts of the window a minimum of every six months and ideally every three. This includes hinges, handles and locks. Spray oils are best for this as they’re by definition, lighter. Apply to cleaned hinges and handles, moving them so that moving parts are coated. This includes spraying locks in the open position, closing them and repeating the process a couple of times. A good way of oiling a door cylinder  is to spray the key, insert it and wiggle it about inside - but remember to wipe it clean before you put it back in your pocket or bag!

Final thoughts

Doing the above, will help you maintain and extend the lifetime performance of your PVC-U windows. Just like cleaning your car, the longer you leave it the harder it is, so in general keep a regular cleaning regime.  The maintenance programme is also good for timber windows with the addition of painting or preserving.

Even old and ignored windows can be brought back to life with a little enthusiasm and elbow grease.

What I would add is that if your windows are a little older, they may look ok but won’t offer the levels of security or energy efficiency that today’s high security windows and doors and energy efficient windows and doors will.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more by calling 01264 359355 or emailing email sales@kjmgroup.co.uk