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How to Clean Window Screens (With or Without Removing Them)

Plus, the lint roller trick that works wonders and doesn't take any effort!

They may be clutch for letting air inside while keeping bugs out, but when window screens get dirty, they can make your whole home look and feel dingy. Here, we’ve collected the top expert tricks for how to clean window screens — whether you’re looking for a quick-and-easy method or a real deep clean.

Why are window screens so tough to clean?

Screens take the brunt of both indoor and outdoor airborne particles — air passing through deposits everything from dirt and dust to pollen, cobwebs, fur, hair and even mold and fungus. And because screens are basically made up of thousands of tiny corners and crevices, grime has a lot of tough-to-clean surface area to cling to.

“Window screens really do pose a unique cleaning challenge,” says professional house cleaner Eliana Coca of Echo House Cleaning in Massachusetts. “They act as traps for all sorts of outdoor pollutants and come with a risk of damage during cleaning, which further complicates the task.”

Luckily, the methods below are safe for all screen types and easy enough for anyone to do at home.

How to clean window screens without removing your screens

This method works great for cleaning screens from inside your house, as well as any you can reach from the outside, but may leave the exterior-facing side of your upper floor-screens with some dirt. (You might have to consider removing those for a thorough clean!)

First, you’ll want to start by taking out your vacuum. “Use the brush attachment and swipe it over the screen from the top down to remove most of the larger particles, debris and cobwebs,” suggests Katie Barton, head of cleaning for “This works better than wiping the screens to start because it prevents a lot of that collected dirt from being sent airborne and into the rest of your home.”

how to clean window screens: Maid cleaning wipe and wash the glass at widow in home. -
sasirin pamai/Getty

Next, grab a couple buckets and set up your cleaning solution. “Fill one bucket with warm water and add five to six drops of liquid dish soap,” says Coca. “Take a microfiber cloth and use it to apply the soap mixture to the screen — wring it out so it’s just damp, not soaking wet. This avoids water damage to the sill and minimizes the risk of screen damage while effectively removing surface dirt.”

The other bucket can contain just plain warm water: use a second cleaning cloth dampened in the water to wipe the screen down after cleaning with the soapy cloth to remove any suds and remaining dirt. And you’re done!

Related: How to Get Streak-Free Windows + Why Cleaning Them on a Cloudy Day Guarantees the Best Results

For removable screens and a deeper clean…

You can use the same cleaning solution as above, but add a cup of white vinegar to the mix — the mild acids in the vinegar help break down stuck-on dirt and grime and even work some mild antibacterial and antifungal magic.

Many screens will just pop out from the inside. Here’s a video explaining how to remove your window screens from the outside:

After removing the screens, experts recommend either working outside on a clean, flat surface like a deck, patio or driveway, or cleaning the screens one at a time by placing them flat in your bathtub.

“Apply the cleaning mixture using a damp microfiber cloth, then let it sit for 15 minutes, so the vinegar can work to break down the dirt,” says professional cleaner Coty Williams, founder of Maids in Eden in Chicago. “Next, take a soft-bristle brush and gently scrub both sides of the screen until all visible dirt has been removed. If you’re working outside, you can rinse them off using your hose; in your tub, use your shower head.”

Let the screen dry completely before placing back in the window.

Also, if you own a pressure washer, that can be a viable way to both deeply and quickly clean your screens. See a demonstration, here:

Related: PhD: There’s More Mold on Windowsills Than Anywhere Else in Your Home — Here, The Best Way to Change That

How to clean window screens fast

While this won’t get rid of stubborn stuck-on dirt and grime and isn’t a replacement for a real cleaning, in a pinch you can always try one of these methods:

“A can of compressed air — the kinds they sell to clean electronic equipment — can blow away loose dirt and debris from the screen in seconds,” suggests Sabrina Tretyakova, an ISSA-certified cleaning expert with Fortador. “Just open the window, aim the can outside and move it back and forth, starting from the top down. You also only want to use this method from the inside facing out, otherwise you’ll be blowing a bunch of dust into your home.”

Another option is to use a lint roller: simply swipe it over the screen and it will pick up a good amount of surface dirt. See how it works, here:

Avoiding “screen burn”

Most window screens are made from nylon, but some people still stick with old-school aluminum ones due to their increased durability. And while they do last longer than their nylon cousins, aluminum screens have one major downside: they oxidize. You’ll know this has happened if you see your screens developing a white powdery substance on them — and if you leave them that way for too long, that oxidation can transfer onto the glass on your windows.

“Prevention is key here,” says Alex Varela, general manager at Dallas Maids. “Unfortunately, if you allow screens to oxidize, the only real way to remove it is through the use of strong chemicals and that should only be done by a professional.”

To avoid the issue in the first place, simply remove your screens during cold-weather seasons, since winter weather speeds up the oxidation process. Before putting them away, wipe them down with either pure white vinegar or ammonia and let dry; then repeat before hanging them back up in the spring.

For more on spring cleaning, click through the links below!

Why Is My House So Dusty? Cleaning Pros Share The Answers + Tricks To Eliminate It

The Viral Homemade All Purpose Cleaner That Will Leave Your House Sparkling

Viral Housekeeper’s Secret for How to Clean Walls Will Leave Them Sparkling

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