Magnetic Window Cleaning Tools

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Magnetic window cleaning tool manufacturers claim their products make cleaning windows easier, faster and safer. According to a 2008 survey of consumers by the American Cleaning Institute, 47 percent wish they could get someone else to do the job for them. Magnetic tools may be helpful for cleaning exterior windows from inside as long as a ladder is not needed. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns there are over 164,000 emergency room visits annually due to using ladders. Rather than risk a fall, you may wish to hire a professional window cleaner. Weigh the pros and cons of magnetic window cleaners to determine whether they fit with your own cleaning challenges.

Product Description

  • Magnetic window cleaners consist of two units that have cleaning surfaces and embedded magnets. Some products need to have pads or cloths attached before cleaning, others have permanent cleaning pads, sponges or squeegee-type attachments.

    All the cleaners work the same way. After applying cleaning solution to both pads, one pad is put on the interior window glass. The windows need to be open a few inches so you can reach around to the outside and put the second pad opposite the first. The magnets grab each other, moving simultaneously, as you make the usual up, down or sideways cleaning motions with the inside pad. The outside of awning windows and the upper portion of double hung windows can be cleaned from inside since the windows can remain mostly closed while they are cleaned with magnetic cleaners.

Pros and Cons

  • The chief benefit manufacturers claim for their magnetic window tools is that they clean the outside of windows that the human arm can't reach from inside. Another claim is that both sides of all windows can be cleaned at once. However, the magnetic cleaning operation usually must be performed several times to get the window acceptably clean, and the tools may do a poor job in corners. You may want to clean the inside window glass again after using the tool. Use the traditional method of applying a cleaner, then wipe and dry the surface for faster, cleaner results on normal interior windows.

Buying Tips

  • Getting in the corners of windows can be difficult with magnetic cleaners, so choose products that are squared-off or pointed. Purchase products that connect the two cleaning pads together with a safety string or band that connects to a wrist strap. It is common for the outside unit to hit an obstacle and interrupt the magnetic connection. When the outside pad slips off the window, the safety string makes it possible to pull it back inside, avoiding a drop to the ground. Check if a magnetic cleaner is intended for single-pane or double-glazed windows. Tools for insulated windows have stronger magnets that hold pads together on thicker glass. They break the glass of single-pane windows.

Dwelling Types

  • Apartment dwellers and homeowners alike can safely clean exterior window surfaces above the ground floor as long as they can access those surfaces from the inside. Leaning out of a tenth story apartment window to clean windows is dangerous, and the products make it possible for high-rise dwellers to clean without fear. For those with large homes and lots of windows, the slow pace and imperfect results may be frustrating. Consumer Reports recommends the standard method of window cleaning for all first-floor windows both inside and outside. Decorative windows such as oriel, eyebrow and diamond-pane windows don't open and can't be cleaned with magnetic tools. Instead, clean upper-story windows with a hose. Apply cleaner to the windows with a cleaning pad or soft mop head attached to a telescoping extension pole. Scrub the windows, then hose off the cleaner.

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