Volume 40,   Issue 9                                  September  2005

The Farnady Files

Coming Clean
Ins, Outs, Odds and Ends of Cleaning Glass
by Dez Farnady

Early in my glass career, while still enamored with the material itself, I collected glass in its many forms. And then my wife said, “You bring in one more piece of glass and you will be cleaning them all.”

Of course while all this glass is still in the house there are also a great many windows and, as you can guess, I am already cleaning most of those. Not as often as I should, but cleaning them nevertheless. 

After cleaning, the windows look great. The winter rain marks on the dust are gone, the bird dropping from the stray bombers are gone and the haze from the failed insulating glass on some of the older units is now visible. But that’s another file for another day.

Bath Time
It was the frameless tub enclosure that finally did me in. I was smart enough to put in blue reflective tempered panels; yes you read right, not p-516. Tinted glass, particularly with the reflective side out, makes the tub enclosure look like a blue mirror on the outside. On the inside it doesn’t show the soap and water residue. Well, at least it doesn’t show it a lot. 

After several years of failing to clean it, I decided to replace the shower doors. Better yet, I got rid of the tub too. The replacement, as I have told you before, is a 3/8-inch blue-green, frameless all glass shower enclosure with a fixed panel and door. Much to my surprise this is not as stain-friendly as the reflective glass was. I found this out when it came time for spring-cleaning.

As a result of living in a “glass house” I’ve had to develop glass cleaning systems because I am the sucker for doing the work. And as good as all that glass looks when it is clean, it looks terrible when it’s dirty. While I have most of it worked out, I have been unable to find a substitute for the required elbow grease. 

The Clean Up
At any rate, here is how the cleaning goes. (Please note that, as usual in these writings, this is the result of highly scientific product analysis combined with extensive research tested on a suitable guinea pig.) That’s me, the pig, doing the analysis, research, testing and all the work. I provide no product endorsements or testimonials and have no idea what the products I use are made of; none of them list the ingredients, but you may recognize them. 

The well-known foam spray cleaner in the blue and white can is the one I use to clean the glass on the kitchen appliances and it does a great job on the car and the windows. It is also great at removing tree sap. I seldom use it on mirrors because it seems to leave a bit of a residue. 

Mirrors and the windows are generally done with the cheap, clear blue liquid that I assume, from the smell, is ammonia based. I use it because it is cheap and it works. Elbow grease, lots of rags and a good spray bottle are the only ingredients necessary to achieve pretty good results, that is unless you hit some tough spots. 

The tough spots are the soap residue or worse, water stains. Water stains on outside windows, generally from out-of-control sprinklers or, as in my case, clear water overspray on the outside of the shower door are too tough to just clean off. The heavy-duty chrome and glass cleaner paste, formerly available from your friendly neighbor who was going to be a millionaire as soon as he could get you and all of the neighbors to become his dealers, no longer seems to be available.

A Product for Everything
Leave it to your good old “we have whatever the glass business needs” supplier to come up with a “sparkling” solution, a white creamy substance with enough abrasive in it to allow you to polish out even the scratches. There is no telling what the stuff is made of, but if you are persistent (and your hand and arm don’t get tired), you can polish out mild water stains. I just did. About a half hour of hand buffing got rid of the water stains—but I still have not got rid of the backache. 

I have been led to believe that there is help on the way. There are products on the market that provide a chemical surface seal of some sort to fill the glass pores in order to make the glass surface smooth, less susceptible to retaining residue and easy to clean. This seems to be an aftermarket variation on the low-maintenance (self-cleaning) glass products. Several of these types of products have been around for years but most of them have come and gone. 

After what I just went through this last spring-cleaning glass, I am going to find out more about this stuff because I will always go to great lengths to make my life easier. If I find out something good I may even spill the beans and let you in on it once it has passed my rigorous scientific analysis or has made it easier to clean my shower door. 

The Author:
Dez Farnady serves as general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly.


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