The Most Effective Way to Clean Your Doors, According to Experts

The Most Effective Way to Clean Your Doors, According to Experts

Experiencing spring fever? Buzzing around your home to do a deep clean feels like the perfect way to bid winter adieu and enter a bright new season. Although the kitchen counters and living room baseboards may get your much-deserved attention, doors are commonly overlooked during spring cleaning. 

Doors are—literally—the entrypoint to your haven, and they can set the tone for the space. Dirty doors can make a home feel unloved and, well, dirty. A little TLC goes a long way in keeping your interior and exterior doors looking fresh. Ahead, we’re sharing our top tips for cleaning your doors the right way.

How to Properly Clean Interior Doors

Many doors in our homes are touched multiple times a day—yet they are rarely cleaned. In addition to helping to keep germs from spreading, a semi-regular cleaning can keep doors looking new—and it can even extend the life of the door.

The most common interior door paint color is white, a versatile choice that conveys cleanliness, simplicity, and calm. However, white paint tends to show more of the “life” that happens around your house. From grubby fingerprints near the handle to dirty marks at the base from shoes, white doors need a regular upkeep to stay looking crisp.

Before you begin cleaning your white interior door, grab your supplies:

  • Unused paintbrush (optional)
  • Duster or microfiber cloth
  • Mild dish soap, like Dawn
  • Water
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Toothbrush

white interior door

Step One: Dust

First, get the majority of the grime off of your door. Water can smear dust around and make a white door look even worse than it was, so it’s important to wipe away as much dust as possible before you get into the deep cleaning process.

PRO TIP: An unused paintbrush is the perfect tool for that initial sweep of your door. It effectively removes dust and dirt from grooves and corners that might otherwise be missed by a dust rag or feather duster.

Step Two: Deep clean

Mix 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of dish soap into an empty spray bottle. Give it a good shake, then spray your door. This solution is mild enough to keep any paint or seal intact, but strong enough to wash away the gross stuff.

*Be sure to test a small, barely visible patch first to ensure the mixture will work for your door.* 

Once you’ve tested a small patch, spray the entire door and gently wipe with your cloth. Use the old toothbrush to get into the trim, making sure you don’t skip any nooks or crannies. Follow up with a clean rag or sponge and plain water, ensuring that you wipe away every bit of soap. 

PRO TIP: If you find the soap solution is just not cutting it, try a second round of spray with a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar to water. Again, be sure to test a small area before you spray your entire door. 

If the vinegar STILL isn’t enough to fix yellowing areas, add ½ cup of baking soda, 2 drops of Dawn, and ¼ cup of water in a bowl to create a paste. Spread the paste over the stained areas. Use an old toothbrush and give a light scrub. Let the mixture sit on the stain for about five to ten minutes. Wipe away with a damp microfiber cloth, then continue with the next steps.

interior door

Step Three: Dry Thoroughly

Water can leave unwanted marks on painted surfaces, so it’s important that you don’t skip this last step. Use a clean, dry towel to dry off your door.

How to Properly Clean Exterior Doors

Exterior doors must withstand even harsher conditions than the daily wear and tear of interior doors. From pollen and dirt to rainy weather and wind, exterior doors block out the elements—and they start to show it if you don’t maintain them.

Let’s face it: Life can get hectic. If you only have time to tackle ONE exterior door this spring, make it your front door! After all, it serves as a welcoming point and first impression. Pay attention to the type of material of your door before you start cleaning to avoid doing any permanent damage.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Unused paintbrush (optional)
  • Magic Eraser
  • Duster or microfiber cloth, sponges
  • Mild dish soap, like Dawn
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Toothbrush

Step One: Get the grime off

Your cleaning will be much more effective if you aren’t smearing around existing dirt and dust. Use an unused paint brush or rag to wipe away excess grime from top to bottom, including the door frame. You might even need to bust out the leaf blower to knock out all the cobwebs and debris before you begin!

Step Two: Start with the frame

Mix up a bucket of soapy water, then grab your sponge and an old toothbrush. Clean the door frame with the soapy mixture. It may take an extra round or two of scrubbing if the frame is especially dirty, and that’s where a scrub brush or toothbrush comes in handy. After using the cleaning solution, it’s important to 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 Three: Wash the door

Following the same general guidelines as those for an interior door, gently wash your door. Be sure to thoroughly rinse away all soap and dry thoroughly to prevent drips or watermarks.

FOR METAL DOORS: In a spray bottle, add 1 cup of white vinegar, 2 drops of Dawn, and 1 cup of water. Once rinsed and dried, follow up on tough stains with a Magic Eraser. (Use gentle pressure so as not to wipe away paint.)

FOR WOOD DOORS: Use a mild dish soap and water.

FOR GLASS DOORS: Use a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water. Wipe down with newspaper or an old t-shirt to avoid streaks.

door cleaning

Step Four: Clean any window panes/transoms

Although cleaning the panes can be tedious, it’s well worth the effort to have them gleaming. Use your favorite glass cleaner or a simple solution of vinegar and water, which can be less streaky.

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. For a longer lasting shine, 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.

Step 5: Last but not least: Polish Your Hardware!

Don’t overlook your hinges, locks, handles, and the like! While it takes hardly any time to maintain them, leaving hardware unpolished for too long results in rustier hardware that is hard to clean.

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 areas that are more tarnished, you may need polish specific to your material type, which is likely carried at your local hardware store.

For in-depth instructions on cleaning your door's hardware based on material type, be sure to read our detailed step-by-step guide.

cleaning door hardware

How Often to Clean Exterior Doors

The best way to keep this task from becoming a gargantuan chore is to wipe down your doors every month or so, especially if you have pets or small children. Then, do your deep cleaning approximately every six months. At the very least, put it at the top of your spring cleaning list annually!

If you decide that your door has seen its better days and you're ready for an upgrade, check out our lineup of stylish, high quality interior and exterior doors.

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