By letting you enjoy the fresh breeze without the bugs, your window screens make warm weather a lot more pleasant. Because they stand in the path of insects, dust, pollen, leaves, and other airborne debris, though, window screens can get grimy fast.
Debris on your window screens is more than just unsightly. It can also weaken your screens and cause them to develop tears and holes faster. Clean window screens give you a better view and last longer, and they’re not hard to achieve.
Regular quick cleaning reduces the amount of grime that builds up on your screens, so they stay looking good for longer in between deep cleanings. Once a week, go over the screens with a microfiber cloth or duster.
For stuck-on debris, use a lint roller or strip of masking tape to gently pull off the debris without damaging the screen.
Vacuuming your screens is another option. Put on your vacuum’s brush attachment and test clean a corner of the screen. You should be able to move the brush attachment around freely over the screen’s surface.
If the suction pulls at the screen and makes the hose difficult to move, either reduce the vacuum’s suction or skip vacuuming to avoid stretching or otherwise damaging the screen. If the suction isn’t excessive, run the vacuum lightly over the whole screen without pressing.
Annual Deep Cleaning
To keep your window screens in top shape, give them a thorough cleaning once a year. Mid-spring is an ideal time for this.
Start by removing your screens from the windows. Place the screws and other hardware for each screen in separate sandwich bags. For screens on second-story windows, have a helper who can stabilize your ladder and assist in case of an accident.
Label each window frame, screen, and hardware bag as you go to make re-installation fast and easy. This way you’ll know screen 1 goes on window 1 using the hardware in bag 1 and so on.
Lay a tarp over the area where you’ll be cleaning the screens and lay the screens flat on the tarp. If you don’t have space outdoors to clean your window screens, use your bathtub.
Prepare the cleaning solution of your choice. While you can find commercial window screen cleaning products, there are also several easy DIY options:
- Moderately dirty screens – Mix 1 tbsp liquid dish soap in a 1/2 gallon of water. If you want a somewhat stronger formula, mix 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar, then add 1 tbsp liquid dish soap per cup of water/vinegar mixture.
- Very dirty screens – Mix 1 part ammonia in 3 parts water. For a little extra cleaning power, add 1 tbsp dish washing liquid per cup. Don’t use this cleaner on aluminum screens because ammonia can cause discoloration. Instead, stick with water and dish soap.
Pour the cleaner into a spray bottle. Spray down the screens with water from a garden hose or your bathtub tap. Spray cleaner onto both sides of the screen and let the cleaner soak in for five to 10 minutes.
Using a soft-bristled brush, such as an old tooth brush or child’s hairbrush, gently scrub the screen using minimal pressure. Try not to press or bend the screen. Wipe off the loosened grime and cleaner with a sponge. Pay particular attention to the corners and frame. Rinse the screen with your garden hose or bathtub tap.
Check for any dirt you missed and clean those spots again. Once your satisfied, thoroughly rinse the screen. Leftover residue will attract dust and other debris, causing the screen to get dirty faster and make it harder to clean.
Pick up each screen and gently shake it to remove any remaining water. Lean the screens against an upright object, such as the side of your house, to allow them to dry thoroughly. When they’re completely dry, they’re ready to be re-installed.
Deep Cleaning Fixed Screens
Sometimes it’s more practical to wash a screen while it’s still in place. This is often the case with sliding glass door screens, screens on upper story windows, and screens installed too tightly to be removed without damaging them.
For window screens that don’t have stuck-on debris, a thorough yet gentle vacuuming using your vacuum’s brush attachment might be enough. Alternatively, gently scrub the screen with a soft-bristled brush, then use a damp paper towel to sponge off the loosened debris.
For very dirty screens, spray the inside and outside of the screen with enough of your chosen cleaner to completely soak the screen. Use a large sponge or microfiber cloth to gently scrub both sides of the screen using minimal pressure.
Fold a bath towel in half, grab one end, and use the towel to lightly yet firmly smack the window screen working from the top down. This helps knock excess water off. Finally, use a clean microfiber towel to dry both sides of the screen. The downside of this method is that you’ll need to clean your windows afterward.
When you know how to clean your window screens efficiently, you’ll be more likely to get the job done when it’s needed. As long as you provide at least some regular maintenance, your annual deep cleaning will be fast and easy.