Home Blog The truth about “self-cleaning” double glazed glass

The truth about "self-cleaning" double glazed glass


Self-cleaning glass is not a magic solution, but a welcome advance in technology, and like a lot of new technology it is amazing, not cheap and does have some limitations. Self cleaning glass in the UK came about thanks to an intensive research and development programme by the World’s leading glass manufacturer, Pilkington. Pilkington’s range of Activ self-cleaning glass is for real it can even deal with bird droppings!

Pilkington activ is quite an “active” glass, as is the World’s first self-cleaning glass to have a unique dual action that harnesses the forces of nature to help keep the glass free from organic dirt, providing a surface that requires less cleaning, whilst also at the same time delivering clearer, better-looking windows.

Hazlemere Windows - Approved Suppliers of Pilkington Glass
Hazlemere - Approved Suppliers of Pilkington Glass

There are some things that it will not self clean, like paint or builders dust etc. To remove brick, cement or plaster dust for example will probably need persistence with a water hosepipe. That said, it does what it says on the tin and does over time self clean off the vast majority of organic dirt.

For UK conservatory or orangery owners (or owners to be!) looking to buy self cleaning glass, they will probably want to know that the secret of Pilkington Activ self cleaning glass is a special coating that reacts with ultra-violet (UV) rays from natural daylight (which works even on overcast days and during the night) to break down and disintegrate organic dirt.

Organic dirt generally comes from livings plants and creatures (i.e. tree sap or fingerprints or bird droppings, whilst inorganic dirt comes from non-living sources (i.e. cement or plaster dust etc.). The special coating on Pilkington Activ self cleaning glass needs five to seven days exposure to daylight to activate fully. Self-cleaning glass really is no myth, as its special coating breaks down organic dirt, whilst reducing the adherence of inorganic dirt.

When rain water runs down Pilkington active glass it washes away the loosened dirt away (both organic and inorganic), as the special coating causes water droplets to spread out to form a “sheet”, enabling dirt particles on the surface to be easily picked up by water and washed off the self cleaning glass. As intimated earlier, inorganic dirt will only be removed by water, which often may need to be manually with a hose. Compared with conventional glass, the water on Pilkington Activ very quickly dissipates, reducing unsightly streaks or marks.

The special coating on Pilkington Activ self-cleaning glass can break down even heavy deposits of organic dirt, but does need UV light reaching the glass to enable the breaking down process to work. So during long dry dusty spells, or if glazed windows get heavily soiled, it is advisable to clean the glass using a hosepipe to replicate rainfall or a soft cloth and warm soapy water to enable the process to start all over again. Please note that a period of reactivation may be required, which is typically again about five to seven days.

Pilkington Activ’s self cleaning glass special coating is that it lasts the lifetime of the double glazing itself, as it will not be worn away or rubbed off under normal conditions.  The coating is integral to the glass, it will not flake or discolour, and can only be affected if the surface itself is damaged, for example, by abrasive cleaners or steel wool. The coating is environmentally friendly, containing harmless chemical substances already found in the home (i.e. in bath oils and toothpaste). In fact, as only small amounts of cleaning agents are ever needed, self-cleaning glass is kinder to the environment that normal glass, which needs regular cleaning. Self cleaning glass is therefore incredibly “green”.

Self-cleaning glass can be installed on almost any exterior application, such as double glazed windows, conservatories, orangeries, roof lantern lights and other types of glass extensions. It can be installed vertically or at an angle of at least 10 degrees, although most efficient at an angle of 30 degrees or more. Self-cleaning glass is ideal for inaccessible windows where organic dirt normally collects like skylights. Specialists and authorized Pilkington suppliers Hazlemere Window Company, whose double glazing factory is in High Wycombe, advise that self-cleaning glass will prove ineffective if installed under an overhang or in a position where daylight and/or rain cannot reach it, as it has been designed for exterior use only.

Self-cleaning glass is an excellent long term investment, as over a period it will save UK house owners time and money, plus from the cleaning standpoint it is far safer than ordinary glass windows, particularly for conservatories and orangeries etc.

Pilkington self-cleaning glass can be combined with other glass products in insulating glass units to provide benefits such as thermal insulation, noise reduction, solar control and fire protection. Pilkington Activ is available in toughened or laminated form for increased safety and security, so for property owners thinking about specifying self cleaning glass you will be buying a top notch product, that is not 100% perfect, but is the best there is, so well worth the investment.


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