How to Clean Your Garage Door

When is the last time you cleaned your garage door?

If you’re like most homeowners, then cleaning your garage door probably hasn’t made it very high on your list of priorities. We get it. There’s a lot going on. On average, Americans are working longer hours than ever before. Finding the time to maintain your home just doesn’t seem to come as easily as it used to — but why is cleaning your garage door important to do?

The average garage door lasts approximately 20 years with the proper care and maintenance. When you clean your garage door, you are protecting your investment and prolonging the life of a door you use many times a day. Cleaning may seem like it only helps the surface, but it’s a great way to prevent more serious issues from occurring. In other words — spending an hour cleaning your garage door now can prevent many hours of work and thousands of dollars spent later to repair or replace it.

Spring is around the corner, and there’s no better time than the present to start your spring cleaning by showing a little love to your garage door. Ready to get started? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Why Wash Your Garage Door?

On average, homeowners should wash their garage door at least twice a year — once in spring and once in the fall. In some cases, doors located on homes in a harsh environment, such as a coastal area or a place that gets a lot of snow, may require quarterly cleaning. This is because the excessive exposure to salt can erode the finish of a garage door more quickly.

Sure, keeping your garage door clean makes your house look nicer — a definite bonus if you’re worried about curb appeal — but cleaning your garage door also provides a number of other benefits, too:

1. Prolong Your Door’s Finish

Your garage door is exposed to the elements on a daily basis — rain, sun, wind, dirt — and all of these can take a toll, even on the highest-quality door. Over time, the finish on your door can become dull and, in some cases, damaged or eroded. If dirt and grime are left on the door over long periods, it can speed up the erosion of the finish. While wood garage doors can and should be refinished periodically, keeping them clean means you can go longer in between refinishing. For doors made from other materials, you may not be refinishing them on a regular basis, but maintaining the integrity of the door’s surface goes a long way in keeping the door in good condition.

2. Maintain Your Warranty

If your garage door is still under warranty, then you are required to clean it regularly to maintain the terms of the warranty. In some cases, failure to keep your door clean will void your warranty and prevent you from using it when problems arise. While we hope you never run into problems with your door, sticking to the terms of your warranty will give you peace of mind if something goes wrong.

3. Increase Your Curb Appeal

All it takes is some soap and water to leave your garage door — and your home — sparkling clean. Cleaning your garage door gets rid of all the dirt and grime that may be dulling the surface and sucking the life out of your home’s exterior. This is especially important if your home is for sale or you’re anticipating putting it on the market since buyers often judge a home’s potential by its exterior.

4. Prevents Rust

Rust is caused when salt, dirt or other substances become stuck on your garage door. Not only is rust unsightly, but, over time, it can damage the integrity of your door. Regular cleaning prevents rust from forming on doors made of certain materials to ultimately extend the life of the door. Besides that, cleaning is much easier than trying to remove rust later on.

5. Allows You to Inspect the Door

When you clean your door, take a few minutes to inspect it, both inside and out. Think of cleaning as a reminder to check on all the moving parts — the photo eye sensors and other parts of your garage door opener, the spring, the tracks and, of course, the surface of the door. Cleaning the exterior of your door also provides a better look at the door’s surface. When your door is clean, you’re more likely to notice if it has become damaged in some way. And, when you notice problems sooner, you can address them sooner. This is a better practice than ignoring your door and leaving potentially small problems until they grow into big ones.

Washing Your Garage Door

Once you understand the benefits of regularly cleaning your garage door, it’s time to begin the process. It may seem intimidating, especially if you’ve never cleaned your garage door before, but it’s actually quite simple and can typically be completed with items you already have around your home.

Before you start, make sure you have the following:

1. Cleaning Solution

A mild detergent, such as dishwasher soap or car wash soap is your best bet, making this project one of the cheaper home improvement jobs you’ll tackle as a homeowner. You can also use a detergent that has less than 0.5% phosphate, like Tide if it’s available. A non-toxic biodegradable cleaner, such as Simple Green®, will work as well.

Once you have soap in hand, grab a bucket and mix one cup of the liquid soap with two gallons of water. Typically, this is the best ratio for attacking common garage door dirt and grime. Never add bleach to your cleaning solution. Bleach should only be used as a spot cleaner for tough-to-tackle stains — more about that later.

2. Non-Abrasive Sponges and Clean Cloths

The last thing you want to do is damage your door’s finish by using an abrasive brush or sponge. Opt for a gentler alternative, such as a non-abrasive sponge or cleaning cloth to scrub the door. Avoid using dirty cloths or rags that may have dirt or sand on them, as well as scouring products. Once the door is clean, you’ll want some soft, dry cloths to dry off the surface.

A good rule of thumb is to use the same type of sponges or cloths you would use on a car. Just as you would protect the surface of a car from scratches, you also want to protect your garage door, too.

3. Step Ladder

Even the tallest homeowner probably can’t reach the top of their garage door without straining to do so. Using a step ladder guarantees quality cleaning from top to bottom. After all, you don’t just want to clean the bottom half of the door! This will also help as you inspect the parts of your garage door, making sure everything is in good working order.

Once your supplies are ready, it’s time to get to work. If you have the right equipment, there’s not really much to it. Anyone can scrub a door. But, as you’re working, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease into it. Scrub hard and even use your hands to remove tough spots or dirt that’s caked on the door.
  • Use a bleach/water mixture to spot clean tough stains.
  • Make sure to scrub the weatherstripping and trim around the door, too. This will prolong the life of your weatherstripping — another cost savings to you.
  • Wash both the exterior and interior of the door. The interior — especially the bottom portion — is still exposed to dirt and grime. Don’t forget to give it some TLC as well.

If you’re wondering how to clean a fiberglass garage door, how to clean a wood garage door or how to clean an aluminum garage door, the truth is that these same basic steps apply for all kinds of garage doors. However, if your home does have a wood garage door, it’s important to be vigilant during the cleaning process. A good cleaning may reveal gashes or erosion in your finish. These are signs that it’s time to refinish the door or, at the very least, apply a fresh finishing coat to the existing finish.

Waxing Your Garage Door

Another difference between various types of garage doors is that steel doors should always be waxed after they are cleaned. Many homeowners don’t realize that waxing a garage door is a necessary part of the cleaning process, but just as you would use wax to protect the finish on your car, wax can also be used to protect the finish on steel doors. A layer of wax will guard against all of the daily wear and tear your garage door experiences, as well as repel dirt and grime. This is especially important if you live in a harsh climate or coastal area as it will shield your door from some of the harsh salt that can erode the finish quickly.

A good rule of thumb for steel garage door owners is to follow a thorough washing with a careful waxing twice a year. Don’t wait to wax on a different day or time. Wax is best applied on a clean, dry surface.

When it comes to which product works best, a good quality automotive wax should do the trick, but make sure it’s a liquid wax — never apply paste wax to your garage door. Follow the wax manufacturer’s application instructions to make sure it’s done properly. Always make sure to cover all exposed surfaces of the door, including the bottom interior of the door since it is still exposed to a lot of the grit and grime from the outdoors.

If you aren’t sure what kind of wax to use or if your door requires a coat of wax after washing, let the helpful staff at Quality Overhead Door direct you toward the right products. We’re always ready and willing to help you make smart choices to protect your garage door.

What Not to Do

Washing a garage door is a relatively simple process, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Even the most durable garage doors can be damaged if you use the wrong cleaning solution or an abrasive sponge on the surface. So, as you prepare to clean your garage door, keep these helpful tips in mind:

1. Don’t Use a Pressure Washer

It’s fine to use a gentle hose, but avoid using a power washer to clean your garage door. While it may be tempting to apply “more power” to the cleaning process, this can damage the integrity of your door.

Ditch the power tools and opt for gentle handwashing and waxing instead. It may take a little bit longer, but it will protect your door and keep it in good condition — which is the whole reason you’re washing it in the first place.

2. Don’t Mix Cleaning Solution and Bleach

A bleach-water mixture can be used for spot-cleaning especially tough stains, but it should never be applied while soap is still on the door or incorporated into your cleaning solution. If you need to apply a bleach solution to a stain, wipe off all cleaning solution in that area of the door first and then apply bleach that has first been diluted in water.

3. Don’t Use Abrasive Sponges, Cloths or Solvents

Using these products can scratch or damage the door’s surface and erode the finish. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to your door while you’re trying to clean it.

Opt for soft cloths and sponges that will protect your garage door’s finish and keep it looking great and staying smooth. Avoid harsh cleaning products or chemicals that may strip away your door’s finish.

4. Don’t Forget to Clean Other Parts of Your Garage Door

While you’re cleaning, don’t overlook the weatherstripping along the bottom of the door. Also, take a few minutes to wipe down the garage door tracks and photo eye sensors for your garage door opener as well. When you keep these parts clean, you’re keeping them in good working order. While no garage door lasts forever, there’s no reason to rush its demise. When you maintain your garage door and garage door opener, you can avoid problems down the road and save money, too.

Need Help With Your Garage Door?

Cleaning your garage door should be a regular part of home maintenance for any homeowner. As you’re cleaning, you may come across potential problems or concerns with your door. When those issues arise, call Quality Overhead Door. Serving the Toledo area for more than 30 years, we are committed to providing the best products and service in the area. If you suspect that your garage door needs to be repaired, or possibly replaced, our experienced, friendly staff are ready to help. Suspect a problem but not sure where to start? We can help with that, too. Get your garage door back on track. Contact us today.


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