How To Clean A Screen Door

If you ask almost anyone who has a keen eye for cleanliness, there are few things as viscerally aggravating as seeing a dirty screen door. It's gross, gnarly, and totally preventable. Obviously, this means that you will need to clean the screen door. But the question is, how do you do it? And moreover, how do you get the glass behind that pesky screen? We've researched the best methods and cleansers for you.

Begin your cleaning sessions by removing the screens and using a hand vacuum to remove debris lodged in them. Use a soft sponge to wipe down each side of the screen with a mixture of all-purpose cleaner and water; rinse, then dry with a towel. Replace the screen, then use the same procedure for the solid portions of your door. 

Screen doors are annoying to clean, but they don't have to be difficult. This guide will help you understand the cleaning basics of this major part of your house's exterior. 

An interior of a small modern house with a screen door, How To Clean A Screen Door

Clean Your Screen Door: The Basics

An up close photo of a screen door of a house

Before we get into issues like getting fingerprints off wood or adding finishing touches, let's talk about how we can get the basic model of a screen door clean. 

How Do You Remove A Screen Window From A Storm Door?

The first major hurdle is removing a screen window from a storm door. Not all screen doors will have this ability, so make sure yours does before you try to remove it. Here's how to do it:

  1. First, push the glass on the storm door upwards, then pull it off the track downward. You may have to push a little from the bottom to get away from the sliding lip of the track. Some designs might ask you to pull the window upward, others downward.
  2. Then, lift the screen off the tracks of the same rail and gently pull the screen out. 
  3. When you need to reassemble the screen window, do the exact same thing in reverse.

If you cannot remove the screen door, you may need to get a special screen door cleaning kit to appropriately clean your screen window. Most screen door manufacturers will be able to guide you to a good kit.

Can You Vacuum Window Screens?

Of course, but it all depends on how you vacuum them. You cannot take a full-blown floor vacuum and just run it over the screen. That will damage it. Rather, it's best to use a vacuum extension or a hand vacuum to remove the debris. Brush extensions, in particular, tend to be a good pick for window screens. 

How Do I Clean The Glass Behind The Screen?

If your screen door has glass behind it, the chances are that the glass can be removed. To do this, follow the instructions to remove the glass and the screen above. From there, wiping down the glass with something like Windex will work well. 

Click here to get Windex from Amazon.

What Kind Of Cleaner Works Best For Cleaning Screen Doors?

Obviously, bleach is not going to be the answer here. The metal that screens on screen doors are made of can be fairly picky. Thankfully, there are ways around this. The best cleaner for the entirety of your screen door (whether it's wood or metal) is a mixture that consists of three parts all-purpose cleaner and one part water. 

Click here to get all-purpose cleaner from Amazon.

Love the idea of having a specialized cleaner for your screen? It's understandable, and believe it or not, a screen cleaner is also a real thing. You can also use window screen cleaner.

Click here to get window screen cleaner from Amazon.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean A Screen Door?

White distilled vinegar can be a great cleaning product and often is used in place of all-purpose cleaner. In this situation, it can still be used to clean both wooden and metal screen doors fairly easily. Prior to wiping down the door, glass, or screen, make sure to dilute the vinegar. Usually, a 50/50 blend of water and vinegar is best. 

While vinegar is a reliable cleaner that has a notable antifungal property (which is why it's good for cleaning mold out of laundry baskets), it can be a bit rough on certain types of wood. If you have a wooden screen door treated with a stain, it's best to follow up with a wood conditioner just in case. 

Click here to get wood cleaner and conditioner from Amazon.

Important Details: Getting The Perfect Clean

A screen door of a small house

For the most part, cleaning a screen door should be easy. However, there are always little issues that seem to pop up once in a while. Now that we've discussed the basics of screen door cleaning, it's time to talk about some of the nitty-gritty tips and tricks.

How Often Should You Clean A Screen Door?

How often you need to clean your screen door has a lot to do with the type of weather you're dealing with. In most parts of the country, you won't have to clean your screen door more than once every three to six months. If you live on the coast, are in an area with high dust, or have a climate that tends to blow a lot of dirt in your home's direction, you might have to clean it once every two months or more. 

Of course, it's also worth noting that screen doors (as well as the entire exterior of your home) should be cleaned whenever there is a major storm or whenever there has been serious debris spilled on the door. For example, if your family rode ATVs near the screen door and mud sprayed everywhere, it's time to clean.

How To Clean Aluminum Frames

Aluminum framing around screen doors can be a fairly difficult part of the door to clean. While you can always use the all-purpose cleaner solution mentioned above, there are better ways to clean the framing portion of your screen door. To get the best possible clean, do the following:

  1. Start by making sure that all the aluminum portions you want to clean are within reach. So, if it's just the framing of the screen, remove the screen and glass first. 
  2. Add two tablespoons of dish detergent to a gallon of water. Use a brush to stir.
  3. Apply the soapy water to the aluminum parts of your door, then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away at it. 
  4. Wipe the area down with a damp cloth to remove soapy residue. 
  5. If your screen has persistent grime, use a professional aluminum cleaner to remove it. 
  6. Finish off the job with aluminum polish.

Click here to get metal polish from Amazon.

How Do You Get Fingerprints Off Wood Doors?

For the most part, fingerprint smudges tend to be fairly light. This means that you can usually just buff them out with a microfiber cloth---often without even having to wet it. If the smudge is more noticeable and heavily oil-based, then you may need to use a cloth with mineral spirits to buff it away. After applying the spirits, make sure to add polish so that the wood stays shiny afterward.

How Do You Polish A Screen Door's Knob?

Polishing a knob or handle on a screen door isn't necessary, but it's a nice touch. Like with most other metal fixtures, these are best cleaned with a microfiber cloth and the metal polish of your choice. Most screen doors' handles will also be able to be cleaned with soapy water, then rinsed with extra water.

When Should You Replace Your Screen Door?

There will likely be a time when your screen door will look shaggy regardless of how often you clean it or will constantly slam. It happens to the best of doors. While a door that repeatedly slams can be repaired and paint can be added to help improve the pristine, there will be a point where keeping your screen door won't work.

Though there are always exceptions to the rule, the chances are that you probably don't have to replace your screen door any time soon. Most screen doors can last 25 to 50 years. However, if you notice that the screen door isn't reacting well to cleaning, refurbishing, or repairs, it may be easier to simply replace the door. 

The cost of a new screen door can be steep, but sometimes, it's worth it just for aesthetic purposes. With that said, it's all up to the door's owner. 

What Type Of Paint Is Best For A Screen Door?

If you want to give your screen door a new coat of paint, then you should pick the right type of enamel. While you can use high-gloss spray paint on aluminum, the more appropriate paint is a high gloss enamel paint. With wood, virtually any glossy paint that's considered to be wood-friendly will work. 

Regardless of whether you're working with wood or metal, it's important to paint your screen door after it's been thoroughly cleaned and primed. The only time to skip priming is if you bought primer-infused paint. 


Screen doors are durable, but they are not infallible. Though they are literally designed to weather storms, the truth is that screen doors still require a lot of love and care. If you want to clean your screen door correctly, it will require you to take the window and screen off the window. 

When cleaning your screen door, it's important to use gentle cleansers that will not rust metal or cause wood to dry out. Using diluted vinegar, lightly diluted all-purpose cleaner, or specialty products can all work. As long as you keep cleaning your door every so often, you should expect to see your home become a drive-by favorite in the neighborhood. 

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