woman cleaning door knob

How to Clean Your Door Handles (Depending On Material Type)

Should you clean your exterior door handles?

Short answer: Yes! Interior and exterior door handles both need a little love regularly for a few reasons.

Reason #1: Keep things clean and bacteria free.

From family to guests to delivery drivers, think of all the hands that touch your door handles on a daily basis. These high-touch surfaces are hot spots for bacteria, and a quick cleaning can help keep you healthy and germ free. Of course, you’re likely already disinfecting your door handles frequently. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to get people in the habit of regularly cleaning their door handles, and it’s one habit that should stick around. That said, keep reading to make sure you aren’t using harmful products on your handles.

Reason #2: Extend the life of your door handles.

In addition to gunk, grime, and germs, door handles tarnish and fade much more quickly if they are not properly cared for over the years. A worn-looking handle is no way to greet guests and welcome them into your home, and a little maintenance can go a long way. Keep in mind that using the appropriate cleaner for your handle type is key in keeping your hardware looking fresh — the wrong one could actually make things worse! Follow the tips below to make sure you’re not damaging your door handle.

What should you use to clean door handles?

The cleaning solution you use on your door handles will depend on your hardware’s material type and finish. The good news is that you likely already have everything you need on hand and won’t have to search high and low for a special cleaning solution.

Across the board, the safest and gentlest cleaner is a mix of mild dish soap and water with a soft dish cloth. Be sure to rinse with clean water and thoroughly dry off all moisture once the cleaning is complete to avoid residue or damage. This is effective on all material types for both interior and exterior doors, as long as you use a quality dish soap. Off-brand and cheap dish soaps sometimes have salt in the mix, which can tarnish the handle.

How to clean brass door handles:

The best cleaner for brass door handles is the mild soap solution listed above. After you have wiped away the gross debris, use mild dish soap and water with a soft cloth to wash away germs.

Dealing with tarnished brass? Here’s a popular homemade recipe that can help restore your shine:

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tbsp of white vinegar

How to use:

  • Combine the ingredients and lightly rub the paste onto your brass door handle, leaving it to marinate for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Wash away the paste with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
  • Use a soft cloth to buff the handle or doorknob, and enjoy the gleaming results!
cleaning brass door knob

How to clean chrome door handles:

Chrome is among the most easy-to-clean materials, and you should be able to quickly and easily finish the task. Use the mild dish soap and water method listed above, and dry completely when you’re done. At that point, assess your handles for any dings or scratches from keys, and decide if you’d like to add a light layer of wax with a clean cloth for an added buffer.

woman cleaning door knob hardware

How to clean stainless steel door handles:

Stainless steel is more finicky than other door handle types, and should be cleaned with a little extra caution. Stainless steel is especially intolerant of harsh cleaners or vigorous scrubbing, but a little mild dish soap and water can do wonders. If your handles need a little extra help loosening caked-on grime, create a mixture of equal parts vinegar and olive oil and apply before the soap and water step, then proceed as normal.

cleaning doorknob hardware

What to avoid when cleaning door handles:

  • Do NOT use any harsh chemicals such as chlorine bleach or products containing chloride.
  • Do NOT use a steel wool sponge or other harsh material for scrubbing.
  • Do NOT use oven cleaner.
  • Avoid cleaning while the handle is hot (e.g. on a hot afternoon when the handle has been baking in the sun for hours).

Over time, you may find that no amount of cleaning, waxing, or polishing makes your handles gleam as they once did. If it’s time to upgrade, check out our full lineup of door hardware now.