Most distributors sell glass cleaners and squeegees for cleaning interior windows. However, when it comes to the other side of the glass, they historically have often left exterior window cleaning products to others.

But as technology has improved and distributors are looking for new markets to tap into, exterior window cleaning products offer a potential boon for jan/san distributors.

Water-fed pole systems allow window cleaners to clean a window in one pass without having to first apply cleaning solution and then follow it up with a squeegee. Connected to a clean water machine source, the pole has a brush on the end that the cleaner uses to scrub the glass. Once agitated, the user then can rinse the window and let it air dry.

“The single largest productivity enhancer, safety enhancer and training friendly item in the window cleaning industry is definitely the water-fed pole,” says Jeff Klass, national sales manager for ABC Window Cleaning Supply, Littleton, Colo.. “They’ve been around since the 1960s, but have really caught on in the last 10 to 15 years with portable water purification systems and carbon fiber poles that reach 60 to 70 feet high.”

Distributors say water-fed poles have been a godsend because they eliminate the need for ladder work, lift rental and rope descent — otherwise pricy and dangerous situations for window cleaners. With water-fed poles, cleaners instead are able to keep both feet on the ground and still clean windows that are several stories high.

“It’s environmentally friendly, it’s safe, there’s no ladders, no lifts and you’re going to get just as good a job with this equipment,” says Klass.

The in-house market offers greater potential when it comes to exterior window cleaning products, says Klass.

“We sell a lot of water-fed equipment to universities, hospitals, large facilities with in-house custodial staff where now they can spend a few thousands dollars, have me come out and teach them how to use it and save thousands and thousands of dollars by moving to their own maintenance,” adds Klass.

Building service contractors (BSCs) on the other hand, often will subcontract out exterior window cleaning instead of taking it on themselves. But, there are some BSCs that do venture into exterior window cleaning. Klass says water-fed pole systems are a product category that can earn BSCs more business.

“It’s a no-brainer to get their own unit, their own poles and teach their own people how to do it,” says Klass.