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How To Stay Safe On Ladders When Window Cleaning - Ladder Safety Tips

Updated on March 22, 2011


If you are using a ladder for window cleaning it is important to be aware of safety. In this article we will look at how to safely use a ladder when cleaning windows. Ladder safety and staying safe on your ladder when cleaning windows is a very important part of the job. There are lots of things you need to consider when using ladders for window cleaning.

In the modern window cleaning world many people are now moving onto the pole system. This means ladders are no longer needed. However, many window cleaners are still happier using the old fashioned ladder method. The fact is that using a ladder does a better job and most customers prefer their window cleaner to use a ladder. So now let’s have a look at how to stay safe when using a ladder for window cleaning.

Window Cleaning Ladder Transport


First of all you obviously need to get your ladders to your window cleaning round. The vast majority of window cleaners use a basic roof rack for this. If you are new to window cleaning it is important to buy a good solid roof rack that will keep your ladders safe and secure when you are driving around your work. There are plenty of hardware shops that sell roof racks and most are very helpful and can even help you set your roof rack up if you are having any problems.

When you have bought your roof and got it in place, you need to safely secure your ladders in place. There are various methods of doing this and it largely depends upon what type of roof rack you are using. Some people use clamps which you screw to tighten, these are very secure but are sometimes a bit awkward to fasten up. While being the safest method they also take the longest when putting ladders on and taking them off your roof rack. Another method that some people use are bungee ropes. These are stretchy ropes with hooks on the end, they wrap around your ladders and secure them in place. If you have a well designed roof rack you can probably just use ropes. You can buy these from a hardware store, tie the ladders in place and make sure they are secure. Whatever method you use to secure you ladders make sure they are firmly in place and not going to move around when you are driving. The first time you do drive with your ladders on take it nice and slow just to make sure they are safe.

Ideally you don’t want your ladders to be longer than your vehicle. However if you do have very long ladders you may find that they stick out at the front and back of your vehicle. This can be very dangerous, a car may pull up behind you and not see your ladders sticking out, next thing you know they have crashed into your ladders. If your ladders do stick out at the back of your vehicle tie a cloth or brightly coloured rag to the end of the ladders, this will make them easier to see when people are driving behind you.

When carrying your ladders it is important that you are very careful. Practice carrying them on your shoulder and get used to the weight and length of your ladders. When walking around houses and buildings be very careful when turning corners, always be aware of where the end of your ladders are. You also need to watch out for obstacles attached to houses, things like satellite dishes, lights or even clothes lines can be very dangerous if you don’t spot them. Knock a big satellite dish off a wall and it is going to cost you!

Where To Place Your Ladder


A very important thing to consider when placing your ladders is where exactly to put them. Throughout the course of a day you will probably go up your ladder over a hundred times. This means you have to make many decisions about where to put your ladder. When you are used to doing certain windows you will learn where best to place your ladder, but first time round you need to give it some serious thought.

So when you place you ladder anywhere it is important to consider the angle of the ladder, the slope of the ground, the surface of the ground and also any obstacles that may cause a problem. So first of all the angle, you want to have your ladder at a reasonably steep angle. If you place it to far away from the wall there is a danger of it slipping out from under you. This really depends upon the surface you are putting your ladder on. If you put your ladder on grass or soil, you don’t really need to worry, the ladder will dig in and there will be no chance of it sliding away. However, if you are on concrete or flags then keep your ladder quite steep, not so steep that it may cause you to fall backwards off it, but steep enough that it won’t slide away.

Next up the slope of the ground. Ideally you want nice flat ground to place your ladder on, however sometimes you don’t have a choice. It the ground slopes towards the wall you are leaning your ladder on you should be fine, as long as the slope is not to severe. However, if the slope falls away from the wall, then there is more danger of your ladder slipping. You may want to think twice about putting a ladder on such a slope. A good tip in this situation is to look for nicks in the ground. If you are on flags try to put your ladder in a crack. This will stop your ladder from moving. If you are on a slope that goes either left of right, then you can place something under one side of your ladder to level it out. This is something you have to be very careful about so don’t take any undue risks.

When you are looking where to place your ladder always consider the surface you will be putting it on. If there is grass or soil always use this option. If you are placing it on concrete or flags be careful if it is wet as this could cause your ladder to slip. Be very careful if you are on wooden decking. If this is wet and slippery it can be very dangerous, sometimes it is best not to risk placing your ladder on slippery decking. One very dangerous surface that seems to be growing in popularity is flags or stones that are given a shiny finish. These are covered in a substance that is very slippery under the ladder and even at steep angles it is easy for your ladder to slide. If you can’t find a crack to place your ladders in it is best to avoid putting them on such shiny surfaces.

The final thing you need to think about when placing a ladder is obstacles. Look up at the window and see if there will be anything blocking your climb. The biggest issue is probably washing lines, but you also need to think about overhanging trees, satellite dishes and also drain pipes. Be aware of any dangers and place your ladders accordingly. The most important thing to remember when placing a ladder is not to take risks. If you are not comfortable cleaning a window, don’t! For the sake of a little bit of money it is not worth the risk, just explain to the customer the dangers and they will understand.

When Up Your Ladder

When you have safely placed your ladder it is important to remain safe on it while you clean the windows. First of all take your time in coming up and down, if you are new to window cleaning get used to your ladder and make yourself aware of how to climb it both up and down. In time you will get used to it and it will become very natural. If you have placed your ladder on grass or soil, be aware that it might move. The ladder may suddenly sink into soft ground and drop down a little bit, be prepared for this and don’t let it catch you of guard. Also be aware that sometimes just one side of the ladder can sink in, which means it will start to slide, this is often easy to correct but occasionally it may be an idea to quickly come down your ladder and place it in a different spot where it stays level.

When you reach the top of your ladder and are ready to clean the window it is important not to lean out to far. Sometimes there is the temptation to clean one large window in one go, if it is a real stretch it is better to come back down and move your ladder over. If you stretch out to far your ladder can become unstable and start to slide. This can lead to a fall, so don’t be to greedy when you are up your ladder. You also want to try and avoid climbing to high. If you are on the top two rungs then balance can be tricky and a fall is far more likely to happen. If you do need to climb that little bit higher always look for good solid handholds that will steady your balance and keep you safe.

Cleaning windows with a ladder is not really a dangerous method of window cleaning if you follow this basic safety advice. Occasionally people do fall off their ladders but the vast majority of times this is because they are taking risks and not following safety guidelines. If you are aware of the dangers and tread cautiously you will have a safe time while you are cleaning windows with ladders.


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    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      This is very important and something we are not told about. We don't know until were taught, thank you for teaching us the basics on how to stay safe on ladders when window cleaning with your safety ladder tips. I will clean my windows this summer with no fear but knowledge. :) Katie