The squeegee goes back to the Middle Ages, when fishermen scraped fish guts off boat decks with wooden swabs called “squilgees.” It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that window washers adopted a rubber-bladed version of the tool.
THE MODERN SQUEEGEE
The Chicago squeegee, a heavy brute with two stiff pink rubber blades, was the state of the art until 1936, when Italian immigrant Ettore Steccone invented a light, brass- handled tool with a single, ultra-flexible blade. The “Ettore,” still manufactured by the late Steccone’s Oakland, California?based company, remains a favorite among professionals.
Window washer Jan Demczur used an Ettore squeegee to free himself and five others from an elevator shaft in the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. The blade was lost, but Demczur’s squeegee handle is now enshrined at the Smithsonian.
THE FASTEST SQUEEGEE IN THE WEST
At the 2002 conference of the International Window Cleaning Association, in Reno, Nevada, Richard Moreau of France took first place in the speed-cleaning contest, using his 12-inch squeegee to wipe down three 45-inch-square windows in 15.76 seconds.