Window Soap & Winter

Winter Window

What is the best way to keep my window soap from freezing?

During the winter, this is a common question I receive from window cleaners.  Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer to this question.

Why?  Well, the purpose of window soap is to lubricate the squeegee and to keep your water from evaporating off the window too quickly.  The most effective way to lower the freezing temperature of water is an alcohol additive.  However, this is somewhat counterproductive, because alcohol will cause the water to evaporate more quickly.

Adding alcohol is also adding more chemicals to the equation of window cleaning.

So winter window cleaning becomes a balance of factors.

If the weather is not too bitter cold, it may be more effective to use warm water in your soap mixture.  Be aware, this will also cause soap to evaporate off the window faster.

If you do use an alcohol additive, make sure you use cold water.

What types of alcohol can be added to window soap to lower its freezing temperature?

  • Methyl alcohol (Methanol) – A good source of this is automotive windshield washer solvent
  • Isopropyl alcohol – Also known as rubbing alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol (Ethanol) – Commonly used as a solvent in the form of “denatured alcohol,” which is drinkable alcohol with poisonous additives to make it undrinkable

There is also Ethylene Glycol (most commonly automobile antifreeze), Propylene Glycol (often used for “pet-safe” antifreeze), and Glycerol or Glycerine (which was formerly used as automotive antifreeze but is more commonly used now in sprinkler systems and is non-toxic).  These are not as commonly used in window soap as antifreeze, but are present in some commercial cleaners.

For more information on types of antifreeze, check out the Wikipedia article on the subject.

In addition to evaporation time, it is also important to pay attention to the dangers of working with alcohol mixtures.

Keep in mind:

  • Alcohol is flammable
  • Read all MSDS information carefully
  • Keep chemicals in clearly marked containers
  • Remember that you will be coming into close, prolonged contact with these chemicals, and that makes them more dangerous
  • Gloves and good ventilation are always important

For more information on safely using alcohol as an antifreeze additive, see the AWC article Using Alcohol, by Gary Mauer.

Above all else, always be aware of what chemicals you are using and how to use them safely.

Do you have additional questions about window soap, antifreeze, and the products available?  Comment below or email us from the About Page!

Or… Shop for soap now!

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