gray house black door tree

How, When, and What to Use to Clean Your Exterior Doors

Looking for ways to keep up your curb appeal? Giving the house a good scrub from top to bottom is a sure way to enhance its overall attractiveness. But beware: pressure washing your exterior doors and windows is a no-go. Before you fill up your bleach bucket, read our top tips for keeping your doors clean without doing damage.

Should You Clean Exterior Doors?

The short answer: Yes. Gunk and grime inevitably build up on doors over time as they are exposed to the elements. Although it seems obvious to clean your front door as it is most on display, you’ll want to pay extra attention to doors that are shaded by trees, porches, or awnings. If an exterior door does not get much sunlight during the day, it’s especially susceptible to mold growth.

front door white with trees

When to Clean Your Exterior Doors

As with most household chores, frequent cleaning and maintenance is the best way to avoid — or at least prolong — damage to your doors. Regularly wiping away excess moisture may help prevent a buildup of mold and mildew. Of course, it’s unreasonable (and unnecessary) to do a daily cleaning. A general rule of thumb is to clean your doors at least once per year. Cleaning your exterior doors at the end of spring (post-pollen drop!) is a good time to tackle this task, as is any time after a particularly wet or stormy season.

How to Clean Your Exterior Doors

It’s important to use the correct cleaning products for your specific door type. Our exterior doors are made with solid engineered hardwood, formed in a cross-grain pattern for added durability, then finished with a thin veneered layer of either Fir, Pine, or Mahogany.

For most engineered hardwood, fiberglass, and wood doors, follow these steps:

Step 1: Wipe away visible dirt and grime.

This should be the very first thing you do no matter what type of door you have. Using a broom or rag, brush off loose dirt, cobwebs, and debris that have collected on your door. Some people even use a vacuum cleaner with a nozzle attachment for this first step — it’s useful for getting down into the patterned nooks and crannies.

dirty front white door

Step 2: Mix your cleaning solution and wash.

Depending on the level of grime, you may need to start first with a wash of plain water to flush away remaining dirt. Once cleared, mix your cleaning solution and get to scrubbing with a sponge or cloth. Always work from top to bottom, and include the sides and bottom of the door where it meets the frame.

Combine a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water. For easier application, put the solution in a spray bottle and completely cover the door. Alternatively, a mild soap diluted with water is appropriate for most door materials.

Step 3: Rinse it all away.

Once you’ve given your doors a good wash, douse it with a final rinse to remove any residual cleaning solution that could eat away at paint over time. Be sure to wipe off excess water too to help prevent water spots.

Step 4: Clean any glass.

If you haven’t already, remove stuck-on dirt with mild soap and water on the glass parts of your door. After the glass dries completely, use any standard household glass cleaner to give it a streak-free shine.

girl cleaning front door glass

Step 5: Polish your hardware.

For the final step, use brass or steel polish to buff your hardware and get it extra shiny. If your knob or lever is beyond the point of renewal, check out our selection of hardware to find a replacement.

polishing door knob hardware

Tip for solid wood doors:

If you’re cleaning a solid wood door, you can use a mild furniture polish to restore a subtle glow in the wood. Be sure to dilute it, as using these products directly on the door can strip away the paint.

Of course, the first step in protecting your doors from warping and weird spots is to paint or stain it appropriately. For step-by-step instructions on how to properly stain, paint or finish your exterior door, be sure to check out our finishing page.