The general public has little knowledge of what we actually do and how we do it. That is why window cleaners stop and talk when they see each other on the street. They know things the rest of the world doesn’t know.
My favorite myth is that Windex actually gets windows cleaned. SC Johnson has made lord knows how much money selling a product that doesn’t work. It is a complete triumph of marketing over effectiveness. When using this product, the windows look great until the sun hits the glass, and you can see every move you’ve made in all of the swirls. If you insist on doing it this way, use foam alcohol like Sprayway. It is marginally better.
Another myth is that window cleaning is like other janitorial chores, such as mopping or dusting. Not true. It is a skill. Not so much of a skill as an electrician or crane operator, but anyone can mop and dust as well as the next person. It takes a lot of time, effort, and experience for someone to get the windows looking perfect. Some never get it.
High-rise work probably has the most myth surrounding it. People watch us and think it is extremely dangerous. It can be if done improperly. But if you do it by the numbers, it is safer than driving a car.
Another misconception about high-rise window cleaners is that we must make a lot of money. I never did. Our town had too many window cleaning companies, which was totally cutthroat. People were shocked when I told them how much we made. Servers and bartenders made more than we did. I don’t know how true that is in other towns; each city has its own window-cleaning environment. But here, when I did it, the pay was ridiculously low.
The last myth that needs debunking is that underbidding is the way to prosperity. No, it is the way to the poor house for all of us. It was the reason we never made much money. The effect was to suppress wages and profits. This myth may be the most damaging of all.
Blue Sky WC, INC
St. Louis, MO