How to Clean and Make Your Window Screens Last Longer

How to Clean and Make Your Window Screens Last Longer

A good set of window screens are an essential part of a well-equipped home. They let you keep your windows open, allowing the warm breeze inside but keeping bugs and debris out. They do so much for you that you should make sure to take care of them in return.

While doing their job, window screens can take a lot of abuse with time. Weather, pollen, dirt, bugs, and cobwebs can accumulate quickly. Some simple yearly cleaning and maintenance will keep your window screens in excellent condition for years to come.

Do’s and Don’ts of Window Screen Maintenance

Window screens are reasonably sturdy, but you should still take care of them correctly. Following some basic guidelines will help you keep your screens clean and clear year-round.


  • Remove big chunks of debris throughout the year. If you notice leaves or dirt collecting on one of your window screens, take a moment to brush it off. Depending on your window screen material, this can prevent rust or mold. It also keeps things simpler to clean at the end of the season.
  • Check and see what your screens are made of. Different screen materials respond best to different cleaning supplies. Nylon and steel screens have different tolerances for things like white vinegar vs. dish soap.


  • Never use a pressure washer to clean a window screen. The force from the pressure washer can bend the screen. It can even knock the screen free from the spline. Either way, the result is a broken window screen – the opposite of what you want!
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean your screen. It’s simply not necessary. Soap, vinegar, and hot water are more than enough to get your screens back to like-new.
  • Don’t throw out an entire screen because of a hole. Instead, you can patch a small hole, or replace the whole mesh screen and keep the frame. Either way, maintenance is much simpler and less wasteful.

Take Off Window Screens for Winter

It’s rare for there to be a reason to open your windows in the winter. Even if you do need to open your windows in freezing weather, screens are less necessary – there are no bugs or pollen in the cold winter months. On top of that, winter weather can seriously damage screens. Ice, sleet, and high winds are all able to tear or dent windows screens with ease.

With all that in mind, the best thing you can do for your window screens is to take them down for winter. If you leave them up, they aren’t getting used, and they’re still exposed to the elements. Instead, take them down, clean them off, and store them somewhere dry for a few months. You’ll thank yourself in the summer when your screens look good as new.

How to Clean Window Screens

Fall is the best time to clean your window screens. After a long summer full of open windows and warm breezes, they tend to get a little grimy. Cleaning things off at the end of the season before you store them takes care of one more spring cleaning chore. Plus, when your screens are cleaned before storage, you can bring them inside without tracking in dirt. Here’s the simplest way to thoroughly clean your window screens.

What You Need:

  • A few large beach towels
  • Vacuum with a brush attachment
  • Bucket of soap water (can replace with white vinegar and water)
  • Washcloth or sponge
  • Hose

Step One: Vacuum the Screens

Take down the screens and lay them out flat on a large towel. This keeps them from being scratched or dented. Then take a vacuum with a brush attachment and carefully vacuum both sides of each screen. Spiderwebs, dirt, and pollen cover most window screens at the end of summer. Vacuuming the screens gets rid of most of this gunk with ease.

Don’t forget to vacuum the edges of the frames, too. That’s where a lot of dirt and debris gather. In fact, enough to build up that the screen can’t quite click back into the window frame. Vacuuming it up now will help ensure that you have no trouble reinstalling your screens in the spring.

Step Two: Wipe Down the Screens

Once you have the screens vacuumed off, you can wipe them down. A sponge or cloth and a bucket full of soapy water is your friend here. You’ll be shocked at how dirty the water gets after just a few screens, even after vacuuming them. All that gunk is the stuff your screens kept out of your home. If you have a lot of large screens, you may even need to change out the water a few times.

Dish soap works best for most screens. If you want to, you can substitute the dish soap with vinegar. If you have an older metal screen, dilute the vinegar – otherwise, the vinegar may cause corrosion.

Step Three: Rinse Things Off

Once everything is squeaky clean, lean the screens up against something and gently hose them down. Rinsing the dish soap or vinegar off of the screen prevents residue build-up or corrosion. That’s key if you want long-lasting window screens. Remember, don’t use too much water pressure. That can push the screens right out of the frames.

Step Four: Dry the Screens

Finally, the screens must be dry before you store them. If you have some time, they can air-dry wherever you rinsed them off. After all, they’re exposed to the elements all day, every day during the summer.

If you need to move things along, just towel-dry the screens. Don’t apply too much pressure, or you can tear the screen. Patting things down should be more than enough.

Once you have clean, dry screens, you can store them somewhere dry until the spring. Once things warm-up, you can put them back up and enjoy the full summer experience. This kind of necessary cleaning and maintenance will help your screens last for years without any extra thought on your part.

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