French doors add an elegant, airy touch to any room, but they can be exposed to everything from tiny fingerprints to mildew and more. Keep your French doors gleaming with these cleaning tips for both interior and exterior doors.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
To save time on walking back and forth as you go, get all of your supplies gathered before you start cleaning. Luckily, most of what you’ll need is likely already around the house. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Scrubbing brush or old toothbrush for nooks and crannies
- Gentle dish soap and water
- White vinegar OR your favorite glass cleaner
- Clean, dry cloth or newspaper for drying
- Rain-X® Original Glass Water Repellent (or similar)
- Optional: Metal cleaner appropriate for your hardware
Step 2: Start with the Frame
First up, grab your bowl or bucket of soapy water, a sponge, and an old toothbrush. For exterior doors with a bit more dirt and debris built up, you’ll likely want to wipe off the frame with a rag or paper towel before you get after it with the soapy mixture.
Next, clean the door frame with the soapy mixture. It may take an extra round or two of scrubbing if the frame is super dirty, and that’s where a scrub brush or toothbrush comes in handy. After the cleaning solution, it’s important to make sure you rinse it all off completely with a round of water. Be sure to dry it well using a clean rag or newspaper before you move to the next step.
Step 3: Clean the Window Panes
Although cleaning the panes can be… well, a pain, the results are worth the effort! Use your favorite glass cleaner or a solution of vinegar and water, which can be less streaky.
There’s no real rhyme or reason to tackling the many panes of glass, except to start at the top and work your way down. Again, it’s important to dry your door completely before you start to ensure a streak-free shine.
Step 4: Polish Your Hardware
Don’t overlook your hinges, locks, handles, and the like! While it takes hardly any time to maintain them, dirtier, rustier hardware will take a bit more elbow grease. If you have brass, chrome, or stainless steel hardware, a little mild dish soap and water is likely all you need to safely clean off the dirt and grime. For tarnished bits, you may need polish specific to your material type. For in-depth instructions on cleaning your door’s hardware based on material type, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide.
Step 5: Add Water Repellent
For exterior doors, you can apply a water repellent (like Rain-X®) to the exterior panes. This will help the water, rain and even dirt run right off the panes, helping to keep the door looking cleaner for longer periods of time. (And who wouldn’t want to extend the time between cleanings?!)
Step 6: Repeat on the Other Side!
Finally, it’s time to (literally) rinse and repeat on the opposite side of the door. You won’t need to apply water repellent to interior French doors, but can otherwise follow the exact same steps. Cleaning your French doors takes a little time, but you'll be happy with the results. Step back, admire your work, and enjoy the flood of light that French doors allow.
Are your French doors beyond recovery with soap or paint? It may be time to upgrade! Shop our interior French doors and exterior doors to find the one that perfectly suits your home style.