[skwee-jee, skwee-jee]

A squeegee or squilgee is an onomatopoetically-named tool with a flat, smooth rubber blade, used to remove or control the flow of liquid on a flat surface. It is used for cleaning and in printing.

The original squilgee was a long-handled, wooden-bladed tool fishermen used to scrape fish blood and scales from their boat deck, and to push water off the deck after it had been washed.

Window cleaning

The best-known of these tools is probably the hand-held window squeegee, used to remove the cleaning fluid or water from a glass surface. A soapy solution acts as a lubricant and breaks up the dirt, then the squeegee is used to draw the now water-borne dirt off the glass leaving a perfectly clean surface. Some squeegees are backed with a sponge which can soak up soapy water from a bucket for application to a dirty window.

With the development of the skyscraper in the 20th century, a more efficient tool for the cleaning of window exteriors was needed. Professional window washers began using the Chicago squeegee, a bulky tool with two heavy pink rubber blades. Changing the blades required the loosening of twelve separate screws. The modern single-blade window cleaning squeegee was patented by Ettore Steccone in 1936; it was made of lightweight brass with a very flexible and sharp rubber blade. The Ettore Products Co. is still the leader in the squeegee market today. Squeegee kits can include a telescoping pole to extend the washer's reach.

Simple squeegees are made in various shapes for household use, including the cleaning of shower doors, bathroom tile, and garage floors.


The "swivel method", or "fan method" as it is referred to by professionals, uses a series of strokes combined with turns that hold the water away from the leading edge of the squeegee; when the turn is completed in the opposing direction, there is no water and no dirt left isolated. However straight strokes, either horizontally or vertically are normally much more efficient than “fanning”. If a few spots are missed, a chamois leather cloth works better for touch up than a towel of cloth or paper.

When using a squeegee for window cleaning a common problem people come across is run lines . This is caused by the squeegee being angled incorrectly forcing the water under the rubber blade out into the dry area of the glass or from solution being pushed up into the top edge of the window. The squeegee should instead be tilted in the direction that the blade is moving across the glass to force to water into the wet area of the glass .

Another method used by window cleaners is to tap the blade on an already wet area of the glass of to remove any excess water on the rubber blade . Alternatively the rubber blade can be dried with a towel, although this method is slower and not practical when using extension poles.

According to Guinness World Records, the world's fastest window cleaner is Terry Burrows of South Ockendon, Essex, England, who cleaned three standard 45-inch x 45-inch office windows set in a frame in 9.24 seconds at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham in March 2005. He used an 11.8-inch squeegee and 2.4 gallons of water.

Floor cleaning

The floor squeegee is similar to the window squeegee but has a long handle like a push broom, used to clean floors after they have been sprayed with water or soap, to push the water into drains.

This is often used in places that need the floors cleaned regularly, such as army barracks or the meat departments in supermarkets. Hospitals sometimes use the floor squeegee to clean up any spills that occur in operating rooms or regular patient rooms as the design of the squeegee lends itself towards a more sanitary clean up. Squeegees are standard utensils for cleaning floors in many parts of the world such as Israel/Palestine.

Printing and photography

In screen-printing, a squeegee is used to spread ink evenly across the back of a stencil or silkscreen, making a clean image on the printed surface. Screen-printing squeegees usually have much thicker and less flexible blades than the window cleaning variety.

A squeegee is also used in photography printing to dry the photographic paper after it is washed, preventing wrinkles or water spots.

Other uses

Stiff-bladed squeegees are used in addition to margin trowels and grout floats to apply grout or adhesive when applying ceramic tiles to a surface.

A horse scraper is used to remove the sweat from the coat of the horse. It is similar to a window cleaning squeegee, but has an arched blade.

During the September 11, 2001 attacks, window washer Jan Demczur used a squeegee to free himself and five others from an elevator shaft in the World Trade Center.

Auto squeegees are also popular in some universities to clean black boards.


Search another word or see squeegeeon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature