Where Did the Meme "I Don't Do Windows" Come From?

I don’t think I have seen this in a while but TV shows in the '60’s and '70’s would often have a potential maid being interviewed claiming “I don’t do windows”. That seems like an odd thing to say. One example I can think of is Florence from the Jeffersons but I know there were others.

Where did that idea come from?

Windows get dirty and need cleaning, but they are not easy to clean (especially their outsides) and so are not typically included in normal maid service.


In the 60s, my mom’s cleaning lady did not clean windows.

To be fair, I don’t think Florence did much of anything, at least not if it was up to her.

ETA, if she spent her time doing windows she wouldn’t have had time to come up with all the clever short and bald jokes.

I’ve heard it in black and white shows. I’m sure you’ll find it was in vaudeville, and I’d say it was in use in at least a complaining form in old books written in England, the USA and Australia. It is after all a complaint by rich folks about the hired help, later said by housewives to potential spouses.

I’ll be surprised if you can find it before the 1960s. Probably sitcoms.

It was a commercial for Windex in the late 60s/early 70s.

The commercial showed the housewife trying to hire a cleaning lady. IIRC, the housewife kept complaining that everyone she tried to hire kept saying “I don’t do windows.” Then she whips out her Windex bottle and says, “Windex does windows.”

There were probably some variations on the idea, but basically it was a cleaning lady saying “I don’t do windows,” and the houswife (and announcer at the end) saying “Windex does windows.”

I’ve heard that windows are exceptionally hard to clean perfectly (especially in the age before windex) so many domestic workers would refuse to do them rather than work their butts off for something that still won’t look that great.

I always had the idea that ’ I don’t do windows’ carried a deeper meaning then ‘I don’t wash these things that let light into the room’
Is it me? I always had the impression that it meant more along the lines of 'I’m here to do this list of things and I’m not going to be doing any extra curricular activities.

I thought Apple was an early sponsor of the Dick van Dyke show.


It turns up in occasional 30s and 40s movies.

My understanding is that washing the windows of a house is a huge project in and of itself, and as such should not be expected as a simple incidental of housekeeping. You want your windows washed, hire a window washer, don’t dump it in the maid’s lamp.

Oh, I’m sure that people used the phrase prior to the 60s, but it became a catchphrase due to the commercial.

I apologize in advance for adding absolutely nothing to this thread.

That being said; I don’t know why I remember this (and and any rate it may be wrong), but I remember a panel from the Mad Magazine parody of A Star is Born (Kris Kristofferson, and Barbra Streisand) where Kris’s character says “I don’t do Widows.” (September, 1977 - I just looked it up).
That always cracked me up.

I know you’re a huge movie fan, so I respect you opinion. Next time you notice that phrase in a 30s-40s movie, email me.

Is this a meme or just a phrase?


It occurs all over the place for decades without any meaningful explanation. I would say it is a meme even though I don’t like the term. It is the same as a maid saying they don’t do toilets. That is odd because, by definition, maids need to be willing to clean the entire house. If you have a full time maid like portrayed they need to be willing to clean the entire house.

Cleaning windows may be a harder task than taking care of other things but it doesn’t need to be done very often. If I had a full-time maid, she better be ready to shine my shoes and fix a clogged toilet when asked. Not cleaning windows is a bizarre aversion especially if it is a one story house. She needs to clean the mirrors after all which is much harder yet the same thing. I don’t know of any window cleaning services around here and it would be stupid to pay for one on top of a maid.


Many of you “younger” folk may not realize that back then windows did not open into the house on a hinge for easy cleaning. You had to lean backwards to get at the upper outer part of the window; unless you had arms as long as Manute Bol’s, you couldn’t just reach out and up. Maids (and home makers) loathed this part of the cleaning process.

Indeed, in my house if you wanted to clean the windows on the second floor, in some cases you need to go up a ladder. It is really a job for people who specialize in that sort of thing (or are not risk-adverse/afraid of heights).