How To Clean Window Screens

Window screens play a vital role in our homes.  They allow us to enjoy fresh air while keeping insects and debris out. 

However, over time, these screens can accumulate dirt and grime, impacting both indoor air quality and the overall look of our homes.

The good news is that you don't have to be a cleaning expert to learn how to clean window screens. With the right techniques, you can make them brand new again.

Examine the Dirt and Debris on Your Window Screens

Before starting the cleaning process, it's a good idea to check what dirt or debris has accumulated on the window screens. 

Types of Dirt and Debris

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Mold spores
  • Bird droppings
  • Tree sap
  • Insect residue

By identifying these common contaminants, you'll be better equipped to choose the right cleaning method for your screens.

Preparing for Cleaning

Once you find out the type of dirt or debris on your window screen, you can gather the cleaning supplies. Here's what you'll need:

  • Mild dish soap or window screen cleaner
  • Soft-bristled brush or sponge
  • Garden hose or pressure washer
  • Handheld vacuum cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth or lint-free towel
  • Bucket or large basin
  • Safety goggles and gloves (optional)

Method 1: Cleaning Window Screens in Place

If your window screens are relatively clean and free of heavy buildup, cleaning them in place may be the most convenient option. Here's how you can do it:

  1. 1. Start by using a handheld vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt from the screen surface.
  2. 2. Fill a bucket or large basin with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap or all-purpose cleaner. Mix the dish soap mixture thoroughly until suds form. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the screen material.
  3. 3. Using a soft-bristled brush or sponge, gently scrub the entire screen with the cleaning solution. Scrub from top to bottom, focusing on areas with visible dirt or stains.
  4. 4. Rinse the screens thoroughly with a damp cloth to remove any soap residue. Ensure that all traces of soap are removed to prevent streaking or spotting.
  5. 5. Once the screens are clean, use a microfiber cloth or a lint-free towel to wipe away any excess water. Allow them to air dry completely before reinstallation.

Pros and Cons:

  • Pros: Convenient; no need to remove screens.
  • Cons: May not be as effective for heavy buildup or stubborn stains.

Method 2: Removing and Cleaning Window Screens

If your window screens are heavily soiled or haven't been cleaned in a while, remove them from the window frame. 

How to Remove the Screen Frame from the Window Frame:

  1. 1. Begin by opening the window and locating the tabs or clips holding the screen frame. Depending on the type of window, these may be located on the sides, top, or bottom of the frame.
  2. 2. Carefully release the tabs or clips, and gently remove the screen frame from the window frame.
  3. 3. Place the removed screen frames on a flat surface where you can easily access them for cleaning.

Cleaning Procedure:

  1. 1. With a handheld vacuum cleaner, remove any loose debris or dirt found on both the back and front surfaces of the screen mesh.
  2. 2. Prepare a cleaning solution using mild dish soap or a specialized window screen cleaner and warm water. Dip a soft-bristled brush or sponge into the solution and scrub the screens gently to remove stubborn stains or clumps of dirt.
  3. 3. Use a garden hose or pressure washer to rinse the screens thoroughly. Be careful not to use full pressure, as it can loosen the screen mesh from the frame, causing it to sag.
  4. 4. Once the screens are clean, use a microfiber cloth or lint-free towel to wipe away any excess water and allow them to air dry completely.

Reinstallation Process:

  1. 1. Once the screens are dry, carefully reattach them to the window frame, ensuring they are properly aligned and securely in place.
  2. 2. Double-check that the tabs or clips are engaged and holding the screen frames firmly in place before closing the window.

Pros and Cons:

  • Pros: Allows for a more thorough cleaning of heavily soiled screens
  • Cons: Requires more time and effort compared to cleaning in place

How Do I Minimize Dirt Buildup on Window Screens?

There are several preventive measures you can take to minimize dirt buildup on window screens. Some of them include:

  • Establish a regular cleaning schedule based on your climate and environmental conditions. In general, aim to clean your screens at least once or twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall, to remove seasonal debris and maintain optimal airflow.
  • Trim back overhanging branches and foliage to reduce the amount of debris that falls onto your screens.
  • Keep windows closed during windy or dusty conditions to prevent dirt and dust from entering your home and accumulating on the screens.
  • Consider installing window screens with a special coating or treatment that repels dirt and water, making them easier to clean and maintain.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use vinegar to clean my window screens?

Yes, a mixture of vinegar and water can be an effective and natural cleaning solution for window screens. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean the screens, followed by rinsing with water.

2. Should I clean both sides of the window screens?

Ideally, yes. Cleaning both sides of the window screens ensures thorough removal of dirt, dust, and grime, as well as better airflow and visibility.


By following these tips and techniques, you can keep your window screens clean and functional, ensuring a clear view and fresh air all year round.