Window screens are wonderful because they allow you to have fresh air and sunlight without the annoyance of insects and other unwanted visitors in your home. Dirty screens become weak and damage easily. It’s always cheaper to clean your screens than it is to replace them, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking of putting it off another year.
Clean Your Screens Weekly
Regular maintenance will cut down on the frequency of deep cleaning.
- Dust lightly with a cloth or duster to remove any dust.
- If there are any parts you can’t remove with a cloth, use a lint roller or a little masking tape.
- A vacuum cleaner may also be used. Place the soft brush attachment on the hose and run very lightly over the screens, being careful not to push too hard and stretch the screen. You may want to test a small area of the screens first to make sure the suction is not too great. Some vacuum’s suction may be so great that it pulls on the screen and damages it.
It is easiest to clean all the screens at once outdoors because you will have plenty of space to work. If you don’t have a space outdoors to work, you can also clean them in the bathtub, basement, or garage, anywhere there is a drain for the water to be easily removed. Screens are made with different levels of durability; there are very strong mesh screens and softer mesh screens. All will use the same cleaning method but you’ll need to be gentler with the softer screens so they are not stretched and damaged.
What you will need:
- Small size Ziploc bags
- Large drop cloth or tarps
- Cleaning solution (choose one):
- 1 part ammonia to 3 parts water (for very dirty screens). Do not use on aluminum screens or it may discolor the metal.
- Pet enzyme cleaner (for clogged or very dirty screens), such as Nature’s Miracle or Kids ‘N’ Pets. These are available in the pet aisle of supermarkets.
- 1 Tbsp dish liquid to ½ gallon water
- Any cleaner from your store that is safe for screens.
- Spray Bottle
- Access to Garden Hose
- Soft bristled brush and/or old toothbrush
- Bucket with warm rinse water
- Old towels
- Remove the screens from the window, labeling the screens and the hardware as you go. Do not try to deep clean the screens while they are in your window. It is inefficient, increases the chance of damage, and will make a mess of your windows.
- Write a number on each window on the frame, screen, and the bag with the hardware. This will help you to remember where to replace each screen and what hardware to use.
- Label which side each piece of hardware goes on and place in a Ziploc bag (labeled with the window number) for easy access and reinstallation.
- For second story windows, it is always recommended that you have a helper, especially if you need to use a step stool or ladder. Be careful with oversized windows both for your safety and watching not to damage the screens.
- Take the screens outside and lay them flat on the drop cloths or tarps, making sure the area is clear of rocks or other objects that could stretch or damage the screens.
- Mix cleaning solution of your choice and place in spray bottle for easy application.
- Use your garden hose to completely soak the screens. If you have access to warm water outside that will be even more helpful in removing the gunk and build-up. This step is not necessary if using the enzyme cleaner though.
- Spray the cleaning solution on the front and back of each screen. Let the screen soak and let the cleaner do the work for you.
- Using the soft bristled brush or old tooth brush, gently scrub the remaining dirt and grime loose from both sides of the screens. Avoid using too much pressure or excessive scrubbing as both can damage the screen (especially the soft mesh screens). Again, let the cleaner do the work for you!
- Use the sponge to wipe off the frame and remove any dirt and grime.
- Use your garden hose to spray off both sides thoroughly—watching for any missed spots or residue. Treat any missed areas again. Be sure to rinse thoroughly because any soap residue left behind will attract more dust and dirt making it more difficult to clean the windows next year.
- Shake each screen to remove any excess water.
- Lay screens back on the drop cloth or prop against a wall to dry completely before reinstalling.
- Before you replace the screens, wipe out the grooves and sills. You can use a towel wrapped around a screwdriver or brush the dirt loose with a paintbrush and vacuum the dirt away.
- If your screens are impossible to reach to remove, you will have to clean them in place. While this is much more difficult, you can use your vacuum to first remove all dirt. Then, use soft clothes and a bucket of water to wipe off the grime as best as you can. Be sure to rinse with a clean cloth several times to remove all cleaner to avoid further dirt build-up. If you care cleaning the screens from inside the house, it can help to put a folded towel along the window sill to catch any excess water.
- Dab small holes with clear nail polish to keep insects from crawling through.
- In a pinch, larger holes in screens can be patched with a piece of pantyhose. Glue the patch on with rubber cement or sew them in place.
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