A Pain in the Glass

buy latex surgical gloves and handle it with them. We haven't cleaned glass in months, unless someone has accidentally handled it with uncovered fingers
Are you buying prewashed paper-packed glass or is it powder-packed?

The former is so clean out of the box, that you will do only minimal cleaning.

(Especially if you wear the gloves to handle it.)

Welcome to The Grumble. Post general questions to the main Grumble forum and they'll get more attention. When you have a tip to share, post it here.

[ 12-21-2003, 09:23 PM: Message edited by: Ron Eggers ]
Originally posted by JillER:
I spend more time on trying to clean glass than on any other part of the framing! Is there an easy answer???

Welcome to the Grumble! I hope you find answers to many of your problems (framing) here.

Let's make some assumptions about cleaning glass:

1. The anti-static brushes that are on the market are expensive but they WORK!

2. It doesn't really matter what kind of cloth you use to clean glass as long as it is highly absorbant and soft and does not transfer anything harmful to the surface of the glass.

3. Most of the brand name glass cleaning products made specifically for the framing industry will do an adequate job of cleaning glass once you learn how to use them.

4. The square edges of glass are razor sharp! They should be treated with respect at all times. They will and DO cut into any cleaning cloth that is dragged along their edges.

If you can accept these assumptions, I am about to disclose to you and the framing community exactly how I clean glass to a failsafe, faultless, smearfree, streakfree, absolutely crystal clear condition!

First, buy yourself some glass handling gloves from somebody, Larson Juhl, UMS, the corner hardware store (if your town is lucky enough to still have one), and USE them whenever you touch any glass in your shop that doesn't hold liquids! From the time the glass is pulled from its box until the finished frame package is set aside for customer pickup, whenever you have to get your fingers close to that glass, wear your gloves! Always! Make it a habit.

You can safely use most any CLEAN cloth to clean framing glass. I will probably get some differences of opinion on this but I personally prefer either cotton baby diapers from Walley World or white terry cloth wash cloths, the cheap kind that you can buy in a bundle for a buck or two. Forget about the lint problem. If you are concientious about washing them you won't have big balls of lint sticking all over your glass. I have been using these for over 12 years after trying all the recommended types and find that they not only will clean glass faster and better than anything else (that I have tried) but they will last for years if cleaned regularly.

Glass cleaning fluids come in all shapes and sizes. I have tried "home brews" of my own making and also most of the manufactured products on the market. I prefer the Larson Juhl aerosal cleaner. Again, it doesn't really matter what brand you use (within reason), it is the technique you use for the cleaning process that counts.

I spray on a light mist of glass cleaner, not too much, enough to leave a few wet paths of cleaner on the glass. Starting from somewhere inside the perifery of the glass, take your wipe and stroke towards the edges of the glass all around, always from inside the glass towards the edge. After that, you use a sweeping motion from the top of the glass towards the bottom to evenly spread the cleaner over the surface of the glass. After you have covered the entire surface of the glass, you will turn over the cloth and go back over the entire surface using both the outward strokes to the edge of the glass and the sweeping motion until ALL evidence of moistness is completely gone.

Flip over the pane of glass and do the same procedure to the other side. The glass should be spotlessly clean now if you followed this process and used your visual inspection ensure that all traces of cleaner are gone.

I use a simple tool that I made to lay the glass on for cleaning. I attached a couple of layers of double strength cardboard together about 30"x40" dimension. Then I covered it in black kraft paper with ATG tape completely around the edges of the kraft paper. This shows up any little streak or smudge and can be recovered when the paper becomes worn. I have used this "cleaning board" for many years and have had flawless results with it.

I leave the glass laying on this board until it goes up against the mats/artwork. I now bring the artwork up to the fitting table and thoroughly brush the mounted print and the mats with the anti-static brush. Don't forget to brush the back side of the mats also. After I am satisfied that they are clean, I place them against the cleaned artwork and stand them upright against my roll of dust cover paper at the end of my fitting table. They won't fall over if you are careful. The main point is to keep all the cleaned "ingredients" upright after cleaning. that way they won't have a tendency to catch any airborne dust or lint floating around your shop. (There should not be that much floating around your shop if you are diligent about keeping it clean.) I stand the pane of glass upright and brush the side off that will go against the artwork/mats.

Holding the glass upright with my right hand, I reach over and grasp the mats and mounting board with my left hand and bring them against the glass. I pick up the glassed package and lay it down on the "cleaning board". The last thing I do is brush off the outside surface of the glass.

You should have a lint free package laying there that should be ready to slip the frame over. I put the frame on the glass package and pick up the whole thing and flip it over on the fitting table and proceed with final fitting. The "cleaning board" should give you enough room to get your fingers under the entire package if it is larger than the board to flip it over. If the frame package is smaller than the board, simply pick up the board and all and turn it over. If it is really small slide it to the edge of the "cleaning board" and turn it over.

Remember never drag the cloth along the edge of the glass. Always use a stroking motion from inside the edge of the glass towards the edge to minimize shearing off little pieces of thread that will show up on the surface of the glass.

Don't use too much glass cleaner. It is a waste of product and doesn't add to the actual cleaning properties of the cleaner AND it will dampen your cleaning cloth much faster and will require changing cloths more frequently.

And, most importantly, keep all cleaned surfaces upright after they are cleaned! Glass, mats, and mounting boards will have a static charge after cleaning and will be less prone to picking up airborne lint if you keep them upright.

Disclaimer: None of this procedure is meant in any way to be the "right" way to clean glass or other materials. It is simply the way that works efficiently for me.

If you so choose, give it a try and good luck in solving your glass cleaning problems.

I know, Ron, I know, ........ I DID threaten to shoot you if you ever revealed my glass cleaning techniques but I am turning into an old softie in my senior years!! :D


P.S. Was that a slip of the mouse or did you intentionally use that graemlin??

(I thought you were waging an anti-graemlin campaign at one time!) :confused:
Looks like I have lost my position as the King of glass handling. :eek:


Of all the things you can do to improve your skill at cleaning glass the best is to wipe/rub the glass from the centre out, avoid wiping from the edge in you will pull dirt, glass fragments, cutting oil etc. on to the glass if you wipe from the edges in.

Good luck and welcome to the Grumble.


No one mentioned using compressed air to blow off the glass after cleaning.
Thank you all so much for the advice. Guess the answer is that there is no easy answer! I do wear gloves, I do use a static free brush, I do use white vinegar, white paper towels, lint-free cloths, but after I assemble the darn thing, I always find something under the glass. Should get easier with practice, I suppose! I am a small time framer right now and get my glass at the local hardware or glass shop. Nothing fancy like washed or with covers!

I would wager that, if you check prices, you are paying as much and maybe more for hardware glass than you would pay for first quality framer's glass. Most housing quality glass has a few seeds and flaws in it, perfectly acceptable for house windows but a big "no no" for framing. Aside from some of it being thicker than what is normally used for framing, it is dirty to start with and requires just that much additional cleaning to get it ready for a frame package.

You can get a 50# box of framer's glass for about $35 - $40 per box. If you cut your own glass you can stock about 3 sizes and minimize your waste while saving a bunch on your cost of glass. (And, more importantly, make that much more on the profit margin end of your glass business.)

Something to think about, anyway.

There seem to be two kinds of framers that use powder-packed glass instead of pre-washed paper-packed.

One is the really huge operation that's buying glass by the case (not the box - the case.) I think they usually have a glass-washer (a machine - not a person.)

The other is the really small operation or the new framer that's afraid to commit to an entire box of glass. The glass-washer is a person, and often a frustrated one.

I used to stock up to 36x48 glass and get anything bigger (like 36x49) from a local glass shop. It would be wrapped up in the remains of a screen door box and it would be powder-packed. I would spend 2-1/2 hours cleaning it.

I discovered it's actually much cheaper to use OP-3 Acrylite for the big stuff.

If I had to clean powder-packed glass now (and I don't) I would be tempted to strap to the roof-rack of my van and run it through the car wash - twice.

(One thing I do remember - try to get as much of the powder off with a dry brush before you apply any liquid cleaner.)

I have a very very very small framing operation………I buy glass by the case (one ton) a few times a year……I do feel that it is one of the areas that you can make a big saving on cost……despite the inventory implication……then again a case of glass costs me about €0.36c (Euro) per sq ft……..loose or box (box if I could get it) would cost me about €1.80+ per sq ft……and then about 30% would be scratched………the box situation may change next year here in Ireland…..I await developments with interest.



I am in Scott Center, Pa., about 10 minutes from either Hancock or Deposit, NY. If your Roxbury is in Delaware County we are practically neighbors. After the holidays I will be ordering several boxes of Tru-vue glass which comes by common carrier at a very reasonable shipping charge. It is clean with paper interleaved.

If you are interested in adding some to my order you can email me for further details.

[ 12-23-2003, 05:12 AM: Message edited by: Al E ]
a case of glass costs me about €0.36c (Euro) per sq ft……..loose or box (box if I could get it) would cost me about €1.80+ per sq ft
Dermot, I could never buy glass that way because I can't figure out how to make those little Euro symbols appear. (Except in a quote.)

Any time I make a rash generalization, I'm prepared to acknowledge that you are exceptional, my friend. :D
Ctrl, Alt, 4 = or should = € or AltGr, 4 should do it......there should be a download from Microsoft for this if you need it.......sooooooo easy.

Have a good day