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Tips & Methods

How NOT to clean uPVC

Window, door and conservatory companies have promoted uPVC over more traditional materials for so many years now that we are conditioned to thinking that this is a wonder material – it never fades, rots, deteriorates or suffers the effects of the weather in any way.

Well, yes – up to a point.

Those who have had their plastic units the longest, or have acquired older installations, will tell you that they do require attention; ranging from a light makeover to a total replacement: while those who include uPVC (or, if you want to be modern about it ‘PVCu’) in their regular cleaning regime will see the benefits in terms of its appearance and longevity.

Although some people claim to have successfully painted their uPVC systems, most will advise against it – the results can be hideous and irreversible.

What can go wrong

The most common issue is that over time the material may yellow or darken – this applies most obviously to the most popular white frames. It can also go matt and dull. Other possible problems are warping and crazing.

This is a relatively soft, flexible material. Cleaned with an abrasive product, or bashed into incessantly by kids’ bikes, it will develop scratches of various sizes that cannot be removed: it has a protective outer coat and you cannot just sand it down like wood.

At this point, some owners are tempted to buy DIY cleaning products or worse, turn to anything that is to hand in the kitchen or garage. Internet forums are full of contradictory advice that is well-meaning but often dangerous.

To quash some of the more hazardous ideas –

Bleach is really bad news – leave it on too long and it can stain your frames brown, but any exposure risks a chemical reaction with the plastic – remove the coating and your uPVC turns matt and will never look the same.

Cellulose thinners also melt plastic – please avoid using them.

Many other detergent-based products (that’s most of your household cleaners) can use yellowing, and yellowish-white is not a shade that many of us voluntarily select.

A lot of cleaners are also abrasive, and that just cuts into the soft surface, creating more problems than it solves.

If you have a wood-effect plastic door or framework, it is created by a thin metallic printed foil that is applied to the plastic. Damage the foil and it will never look right again.

Many of the above solvent-based ‘solutions’ will munch right into the rubber seals of your windows, doors and conservatories. This will cause leaks and draughts, and will require expensive replacement.

Green menace



There is one more important danger to mention – algae. This of course is a natural environmental threat, which thanks to the British weather is prone to leaving nasty green stains and slime on the roof of your conservatory (as shown), on the surfaces of your gutters and fascia boards, and in every nook and cranny, if left unattended.


How to do it right

These problems are all in a day’s work for a professional cleaning firm. So how would BM Cleaning Services, of Edinburgh and the Lothians, handle these cleaning issues?

Well, in the case of algae, it tends to appear on all of the exposed surfaces that are hardest to reach – usually way beyond the average householder. The green slime needs to be removed by professional non-solvent, non-abrasive cleaning fluid applied from a long-reach hose pole. The expert cleaner will then clean the frames and glass or plastic panels with water – but not your average acid or alkaline tap water that leaves chemical stains: this will be water freshly-filtered by the Pure Water System.

So the correct answer to the problem of keeping your uPVC looking young and beautiful is to leave it in the tender care of the experts as part of a regular cleaning services regime. Your house will thank you for it.