Window Washers Enjoy Surge in Demand

On an average workday, Mikhail Karalatov might watch a person play music in the living room, though he will not be able to hear the notes. He could peer into a “15-room castle” on Fifth Avenue, he said, though he is not really supposed to look around. Or he might draw smiley faces with soapsuds as a child stares back at him in fascination. Oftentimes, people wave. window washing nyc

“And sometimes people cover their eyes and run away,” Mr. Karalatov said. “They are scared for you.”

That is because Mr. Karalatov is a window washer, and he generally encounters these things while dangling several stories above the sidewalk, rubbing and scrubbing to make the skyline sparkle. In recent years, he and his colleagues have become increasingly popular.

In the average apartment building clad in brick or limestone, windows can be washed from the inside, perhaps by a superintendent looking to make an extra buck. The facade is generally cleaned somewhere between every 40 years and never. But glass buildings must be washed about twice a year, lest they look as if they were covered with giant smudged thumbprints, and the windows on a towering residential building, 50, 60, even 70 stories above the ground, are far too dangerous for the casual cleaner.

So as recent architectural trends around New York City have spawned apartment buildings both taller and glassier than in years past, at least one profession has been made very happy. window cleaner

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“It’s perfect, I would say,” said Mark Imankulov, a manager of Prime Window Cleaning, where Mr. Karalatov is employed. “Everybody wants a big picture window with a huge piece of glass.”

Robin Domanski, the manager of Chelsea Window Cleaning, agreed that its services were becoming more vital.

“It’s not just about going in, putting on booties and tilting the windows anymore,” Ms. Domanski said. “The jobs are a lot more complicated now. Equipment needs to be bought and maintained, and people have to be trained on it.”

Window cleaning is, by its nature, a slightly awkward job. Tom Bulawa, manager of Apple Window Cleaning, likens the experience to avoiding eye contact on the subway. Typically, most residents are warned that there will be visitors dangling outside their bedrooms, and unless a resident waves first, Mr. Bulawa said, washers must keep their heads down and try not to notice what is happening on the other side.