High-rise window cleaning is an essential maintenance requirement for multi-story residential and corporate buildings to ensure that:

  • Sufficient natural light permeates the building
  • Dirt and grime do not create premature structural degradation
  • A high-rise complex looks its best on the urban skyline

Since the construction boom of the 1860s, the profession of high-rise window cleaning has been an essential maintenance trade and has seen some significant changes in window cleaning methods and technologies.

Read on to learn more about high-rise window cleaning and how it is executed by a high-rise window cleaning specialist.

A brief history of window cleaning

Before the industrial boom of the 1860s, window cleaning was usually the job of servants and groundskeepers; however, as the building boom expanded into the 19th century, window cleaners became a required trade around the world.

In the early 1900s, the first version of a staple tool used by a professional building window cleaner was invented, called the Chicago squeegee, which mimicked a fisherman’s tool used to scrape and clean surfaces on a boat.

The squeegee cleans window cleaning solutions off windows, leaving them streak-free. The squeegee, as it still resembles today, was invented by Italian inventor Ettore Steccone in 1936 and was much smaller and lighter than the original Chicago squeegee.

Ettore Products Co is still a leading global provider of professional-grade squeegees and window cleaning products today.

Methods of high-rise window cleaning

Throughout the modern history of professional high-rise window cleaning, many methods and apparatus have been implemented to make high-rise window cleaning more efficient, safe, and economical.

Single and dual-person cages

Traditionally, one of the most common methods of window cleaning is via suspended working platforms known as cages, or height work access platforms which are operated via a pulley system that raises and lowers the safety cage up and down the building face by a manual or mechanical system.

While effective, these systems can take a lot of time to set up and pack down and have been known to get into trouble during sudden gusts of winds or changes in weather conditions.

Motorised height access appliances

A wide range of height access appliances is used for some window cleaning duties—this could include industrial height access appliances such as:

  • Scissor lifts
  • Cherry pickers
  • Crane or forklift-assisted work cages and more

While these methods are effective, they are restricted by building height and can also be subjected to sudden high winds and extreme weather changes.

They also take time to set up, require bystander safety security measures, and are expensive to hire, purchase and maintain. These costs are often passed down to the client or building management.


Scaffolding is often only used for high-rise window cleaning when other major maintenance or renovations occur. Scaffolding is a complex system of structural frameworks and platforms that can take days, weeks or even months to set up and pack down and comes with a high cost.

Rope access window cleaning

One of the most popular methods to date for high-rise window cleaning is by employing a rope access window cleaner. This window cleaning method has proven to be the most cost-effective, safe, and efficient high-rise window cleaning method worldwide. Read on to learn more about rope access window cleaning with an abseiling professional.

What is a rope access technician?

A rope access technician is a trade professional of one modality or another who is trained and qualified in the art of abseiling, also known as rappelling.

Abseiling uses a dual-rope, harness, and friction control system to ascend, descend, and traverse a sheer face, such as a rocky cliff or the face of a high-rise building.

An abseilers rig is controlled by working with two ropes attached to anchor points, often pre-installed into a building for rope access technicians, or via anchor points created by the rope access professional on a stable load-bearing structure.

One rope in the system is the main control rope, and the second is a safety rope for fall arrest in the rare occurrence of an emergency, like a main rope or core anchor point failure.

These ropes are fed through friction control utilities, like carabiners and figure eight fittings, allowing the rope access technician to control the rope’s movement and locking while suspended from the anchor points.

All systems are attached to the rope access technician’s harness, which is fastened around the technician’s hips and legs, and, depending on the harness type, the back, and shoulders.

How a rope access technician performs high-rise window cleaning

Rope access technicians offer a safer, faster, and more affordable window cleaning solution for high-rise buildings, requiring no bulky apparatus or appliances and generally causing no interruptions to your building’s daily operations.

All tools and solutions are securely attached to the technician’s harness, including items such as:

  • Buckets
  • Glass scrapers
  • Sponge or T-bar wands
  • Squeegees
  • Rags or towels
  • Spare blades for squeegees and scrapers
  • Tool belt and more

They often work in teams of two or more and generally work from top to bottom, working their way around the building till the job is complete.

Most rope access windows cleaners can set up and pack down in around an hour or less, meaning there is no equipment or appliances left around at the end of each work day, making for a cleaner, safer work area.

Because no additional appliance, utility, or safety security hire is needed in most circumstances, hiring a rope access window cleaning specialist is generally significantly cheaper than other high-rise window cleaning methods.

Rope access window cleaning specialists can also get to places other utilities cannot reach, especially on unique architecturally designed buildings; this means rope access technicians can often provide a more thorough, superior finish than other methods.

Abseilers United: Industry-leading rope access window cleaning Sydney-wide

If you are a high-rise building manager or owner in the Sydney business district and want to experience the many benefits of hiring a rope access window cleaner, call us today on (02) 9976 6768.