, How to Clean External Doors & Windows Correctly

The first thing that anyone will see when they approach your home is the front door and any nearby windows. If you want to make a good impression then that door should look as clean as possible. Your front door is exposed to the elements all year round, and this means that it gets damaged by the wind and rain, and that it is exposed to dust, soot, petrol fumes and general grime. It’s only natural that it will start to look dirty pretty quickly.

Common Cleaning Challenges

You would think that cleaning doors would be an easy task – simply wash them down with a little water and soap. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Doors and window frames come in a variety of sizes and can be made from several different materials, including solid wood, wood panels, aluminium or steel cored doors with wood coverings, vinyl and UPVC. Many doors have large glass panels, too, and window frames can vary massively in their type and how porous the material is. This means that you need to select the cleaning solution and the cleaning method carefully.

Natural Cleaning Solutions

Commercial cleaners can do a good job on wooden doors and window frames, and are OK for cleaning glass too, but you need to be careful what substances you use to clean glass that has been treated to make it “self cleaning” (something that is common on modern conservatories) and you should be careful with UPVC too. Read the documentation that came with your windows or door to find out what cleaning materials they recommend.

If you aren’t sure what you should be using to clean your property, you can safely assume that home-made cleaners will be OK. It’s easy, and quite inexpensive, to make a cleaning solution that will remove dust, dirt and salt marks from your doors and windows.  A good multi-purpose cleaner can be made from:

  • A teaspoon of baking soda
  • A squirt of liquid soap
  • Four cups of warm water

Simply mix these up in a spray bottle, spray on the window frame, and wipe off with a sponge.

To clean glass, such as your windows, make a solution with a squirt of washing up liquid, six tablespoons of white vinegar, and four cups of warm water. This will do a great job of removing most of the marks that you are likely to get on your windows.

Cleaning Doors

One common mistake that people make when they start cleaning their doors is that they go straight to the washing stage. This can backfire because you may end up with muddy streaks or dirty lines that could have been avoided if you wiped dust away with a soft rag before you did a wet clean.  When you are wiping the door down, make sure that you wipe following the direction of the wood grain.

When the door is clean of debris and dust, use a sponge soaked in all-purpose cleaner to wipe the door down, and then dry it with a clean, soft rag. Use glass cleaner for any small windows, and be sure to clean the brass fixtures or handles too.

Cleaning Glass

You need to clean your windows regularly to get rid of the water spots and other dirty patches that appear over time. The best time to clean your glass is on a warm but slightly cloudy day when there is very little wind. The reason for this is because wind and direct sunlight both cause the cleaning solution to dry up quickly, and this leaves visible streaks. The best way to prevent those unsightly streaks is to keep the glass as wet as possible until you’re done cleaning it.

Spray the glass with your cleaning solution, and then use a scrubber to remove any visible debris, then rinse the surface with plain water. Use a squeegee to clean and dry the glass from the top of the window down to the bottom. You may need to repeat this process more than once to get a sparkling clean window.

Once the outside of the window is clean, you should clean the outside too. Again, to avoid streaks, start at the top of the widow and work your way down. Wipe dust and debris from the window, and make sure that the tracks and sides are clean too. Spray the cleaner onto the glass and then wipe it off using small circular motions. When you have cleaned the entire window, check for any remaining residue from the cleaning solution. If you spot any,  spray some plain water onto that spot and mop it up with a clean cotton cloth.

Why Be Wary of Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is something that you should be very wary of when cleaning UPVC and glass. The force exerted by a pressure washer can be incredibly strong, and it can easily damage your doors and windows if you point the stream of water directly at the door or window and are too close to it at the time. Rather than using a pressure washer, it’s much safer (and generally the same amount of effort) to use a simple telescopic hose to clean windows that are higher up, and clean doors with a simple sponge and chamois cloth.

Keeping Doors and Windows Clean

You should clean your doors and windows regularly to prevent too much debris and dirt from building up.  In addition, try to keep your garden and driveway clean too. Use your pressure washer to keep your pavements free of dirt and weed, and be sure to remove leaves and other seasonal debris from your gutter, paths and garden.

Be sure to oil the hinges on your doors and windows regularly, and replace weather stripping whenever it shows signs of wear and tear. If you start having problems with your locks, replace them promptly – using lubricating sprays to unstuck them will work in the short term but is just a stopgap measure.

Posted on: 20 July 2015

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