Every commercial property benefits from professional window cleaning. Though this can literally be a towering challenge for high-rise buildings, or really any building over three to four stories tall. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a tough job and somebody has to do it.

Though you might be surprised to hear that there are two different methods for cleaning a building’s windows. The one that is best for your building will vary depending on its height and characteristics. They are Abseiling and Cradle cleaning. To determine which is best for your building, we will need to take a closer look at the pros and cons of each technique. This starts with asking and answering some key questions.

What Are The Benefits Of Professionally Cleaning A Building’s Windows?

Skyscrapers and high-rise buildings started going up at the end of the 19th century and not long after people realized they needed to come up with a way to keep the windows clean. Of course, with those early buildings, the windows still opened, which allowed a lot of office workers and tenants to clean the majority of their own windows. Though as construction techniques continued to evolve, sealed windows became the norm.

This means that as time goes on, airborne debris, pollen, dust, and pollution can start to build up on a building’s windows. Not only can this make it hard to see out of, but it can also send an unprofessional message to people who visit your professional space.

It can also affect the positive effects of the sun. Dirty windows partially block the influence of the sun. This can reduce the solar heating effect, and even cause problems with indoor office plants.

As time goes on, these surface pollutants can start to pose other problems.

Eventually, window grime and bird droppings can start to affect the integrity of the window seals. This can also prove to be a health hazard for debris that might later fall to the streets below.

Fortunately, modern building exterior cleaning techniques have a solution to help maintain a high-rise building’s windows. This comes in the form of Abseiling and Cradle window cleaning. The one that is best for your building will vary depending on the size as well as other factors.

What Is Abseiling Window Cleaning?

Abseiling is a term that relates to “Rappelling”. You often see it being used by mountain climbers and outdoorsmen who use rope and pulley setups as they descend from a mountain, cliff, waterfall, or other high structure.

When you translate this to window cleaning applications, it calls for using extremely strong professional-grade ropes that are typically attached to the top of a building. Professional cleaning personnel with extensive training in abseiling then use commercial cleaning equipment to descend down the building in order to meticulously clean the windows.

Abseiling allows the professional technician to quickly get the windows cleaned off in a very short time. It also allows for multiple points of attachment, which further improves safety. It also means that the professional cleaning technician can switch ropes at any time to cover more window areas of the building without having to go all the way back up to the roof to start again and again. For a building of ten stories or less this isn’t much of an issue.

Usually, an abseiler cleaning technician needs rope, some sort of boatswain’s chair or sitting harness, suction equipment as well as safety ropes, along with cleaning tools. This setup also means that if there is an emergency the abseiling cleaning technician can make a faster descent than a cradle cleaning set up allows with its generally slow electric motors.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Abseiling For Cleaning Office Building Windows?

There are several pros to abseiling windows and a few potential cons that might be a factor depending on the size and layout of your high-rise building.

Pros of Abseil Window Cleaning

  • Faster than cradle cleaning
  • Greater safety
  • Ability to bring more cleaning tools
  • Superior flexibility
  • Lower stress on the cleaning technicians body

Cons of Abseil Window Cleaning

  • Only for cleaning windows
  • Not designed to also perform maintenance work
  • Only capable of descending
  • Only Allows for Descents

What is Cradle Window Cleaning?

Cradle window cleaning is the second most popular option for cleaning high-rise buildings. This involves more equipment as it involves a specially reinforced cradle platform that is attached to powerful electric motors which raise and lower work crews along the sides of a building. This setup makes it possible for them to clean windows as well as perform other routine exterior maintenance tasks.

It also requires permanent or semi-permanent attachment, which raises the initial cost of installation. The cradle normally hooks to the top or sides of the building through the built-in pulley fixtures that are added to the building when it is first constructed. With cradle window cleaning, you are making a significant investment in maintaining the exterior appearance of your commercial high-rise building. Though this is an investment that tends to recoup itself vigorously in the long run.

Of course, this also translates into more versatility with the cradle set up where crews can take much more equipment with them. This includes more water, cleaning solutions, and other materials. It also allows for bringing tools and equipment to handle exterior repairs and more complicated exterior cleaning procedures.

However, operating the cradle system requires at least two people. This adds to the manhour cost and can be a factor in the long-term cost of ownership for some buildings that field the cost of their in-house maintenance & custodial staff.

Pros of Cradle Window Cleaning

  • Multitasking is easier
  • Ability to inspect the building’s exterior
  • Ascent Capabilities
  • Capable of going up and down
  • More time to focus on cleaning
  • The ability to carry greater loads

Cons of Cradle Window Cleaning

  • Inclement weather can be an issue
  • Not for use in high winds
  • Cost of installation
  • Needs two technicians to operate
  • Not all areas of a building are accessible
  • More safety & operational training required


Abseiling and cradle cleaning are two of the most popular window cleaning methods for maintaining a high-rise building. For a building of 10 stories or less, abseiling might be the preferred option as it allows the cleaning technicians to go up and down quickly and work multiple windows at one pass.

If you have a larger building and you are willing to invest in long-term window cleaning and exterior maintenance, then a cradle cleaning system might make more sense. Just be mindful of the weather and plan to always have at least two properly trained professionals operating the cradle.