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How to Clean Window Screens

As the temperature starts to warm up, many people are choosing to open up their windows and let the fresh spring breeze into their home. If you’re one such person, you might want to first consider the state of your screens. If you find they’re dirtier than you like, then it’s recommended to clean them.

how to clean window screens

While not necessarily a complicated matter, it does require a certain amount of assessment and setup before you jump in.

Level of Dirtiness

Dirty screens can create numerous problems such as declining air quality, insect infestation and some level of view disruption. Cleaning these screens first requires assessing the amount of dirtiness your screens have accumulated.

Needless to say, a small bit of dirt requires significantly less elbow grease than one that is plastered with dirt. When looking at your screens, try rating them on a scale of one to four – with four being the dirtiest.

A level one will only have a tiny bit of dirt here and there – often times this level only needs a good shake out to really clean. Screens that are covered with a loose film of dirt throughout is a second level and will require the inclusion of some implements to fully clean.

Level three is dirt that’s caked on real thick and will need cleaning solutions and a decent amount of scrubbing on your part. The fourth and final level is similar to a wall of mud than anything else and requires the most extreme measures.

What You’ll Need to Clean Your Window Screen

window screen cleaning supplies

Now that you’ve assessed the level of dirt you’re dealing with, next is to actually get ready to clean the screen.  Different levels of cleaning will require varying tools, from a simple brush for simple touch-ups to much, much more.

If you’re using the vacuum make sure to have some sort of hand tool. Without one, you risk the possibility of damaging the screen. When using ammonia, make sure you mix it well in a bucket beforehand.

While it can vary depending on your needs, most people recommend a single part of ammonia for every three parts water. If you don’t have any ammonia on hand, you can use a small amount of mild soap with warm water.

When using this mixture it’s recommended to wear some rubber gloves so you don’t damage the skin on your hands. Make sure never to mix any other chemicals with the ammonia.

It’s much easier to clean all the dirt off of a screen if you take it out of the window first. So, once you have all your cleaning items on hand you need to get your screen out. There will be different methods for taking your screen out depending on what type you have.

The most common type of screen will have a series of small tabs around the perimeter that releases the screen from the window frame. It’s important to be careful as screens can easily break or tear.

After the screen has been removed try to find a good workspace. You’ll want to find an area to spray water in. Give yourself plenty of room to work and decent drainage. Cement works great but if you don’t have that, you can put down a tarp in the yard to work just as well.

Level One Screen Cleaning

If you find that your screens only have a small trace of dirt on it, try shaking it to see what comes off. This can very well all you need to do if it’s light enough.

A small lint brush can be used to lightly brush away any of the loose dust – just merely do this a couple of times on each side to get everything. From here you can hit it with your hose for a minute and let it dry out in the sun.

Level Two Window Screen Cleaning

dirty window screens

Shaking the screen might not do much this time around but go ahead and try. From here you’re going to want to get it fairly soaked with the garden hose. The water should be able to get rid of the majority of the dust and dirt.

Start from the top and slowly make your way down. Make sure to use a gentle setting as you don’t want to damage the screen. As always, make sure you spray both sides. You can then use a soft bristle scrub brush to get rid of anything leftover.

Try using small circular motions across the entire screen and only use a small bit of pressure as too much force can tear it. Every once in a while you can wash the brush off so you don’t reapply the dirt.

An alternative method requires the use of a vacuum. When using a vacuum make sure to only use one that has a soft brush as an attachment. Merely press the brush against the screen lightly and move several times over each side or until the dust is gone.

Level Three Screen Cleaning

Caked-on dirt requires a little more elbow grease. You’re going to have to get a little more technical and bust out the cleaning products to really cut through that grime.

Use the garden hose and wash away what you can. Using a mixed solution of ammonia and warm water, go ahead and soak either a scrub brush, rag or sponge with it.

As in previous cleanings go ahead and use a small circular motion throughout, occasionally washing the brush off so you won’t redistribute the dirt to the screen. If you have a hard time removing the rest of the dirt, try using a sponge to soak it up. This will also help you see if you missed any spots on the screen.

For the Tough Stains: Level Four Screen Cleaning

Do you have a wall of mud on your window screen? Then you’re going to need a little more set up when cleaning this screen. Try soaking it in a combination of warm water and cleaning solution (preferably ammonia) beforehand for at least a half hour.

This helps soften up any accumulated gunk. After waiting gently spray down the screen with the hose. From here, you might need to break down the scraper to get rid of anything that’s really stuck on.

Then, you’re going to want to apply many of the methods used in level three.

Now You Know How to Clean Window Screens

The best course of action is to ensure that your screen stays clean all year round. Try to take a look at it every once in a while rather than waiting for it to really accumulate dirt.

When cleaning, you’re first going to want to assess the level of grime the screen has as this will tell you how much time and what you’ll need to clean.

There are a variety of ways you can clean your screens. Everything from a simple shake out, to a vacuum, or soap and rag. Regardless of the method, make sure to be careful as screens are easy to break and tear.

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