Clean Like You Mean It

It's Just About Time to Spring Clean Your Window Screens

Because when you let in that warm breeze you might be letting in dirt and debris, too.

March  3, 2022
Photo by Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images

Clean Like You Mean It shows you how to tackle the trickiest spots in your home—whether they’re just plain gross or need some elbow grease. You’ll get the cleaning secrets we’ve learned from grandma, a guide to our handiest tools and helpers, and so much more. Pull on those rubber gloves and queue up the tunes: It’s scour hour!

Cleaning windows often feels like an uphill battle. No matter how many times you wipe, squeegee, and re-wipe, there are always some stubborn splotches left over. Window screens are a whole other beast, because they’re magnets for stray dust, cobwebs, built-up crud, and they often just look… dirty.

But clean window screens aren’t just for aesthetics. When you open up your windows, any particles that have clung to the screens can come into your house along with the breeze. And it’s not just dirt and dust, either. During winter months, moisture, bacteria, and mold can collect on the screens, so regular cleaning (despite how cumbersome it may be) is kind of a necessity for your health and indoor air quality.

Feeling grossed out? Here’s exactly how to clean your window screens.

How Often should you clean window screens?

According to Screenmobile, the largest mobile screen repair company in the U.S., you should be giving your screens a wipe down about every month. If you live in a very windy area (which means dust and debris hit your screens more often) you might want to increase the cleaning frequency.

A good rule of thumb, though, is to clean your screens each time you clean your windows. Screenmobile also recommends doing a deep clean at the end of the winter season to get any bacteria or mold that may have built up from excess moisture, and prep the screens for spring and summer breezes.

How do you maintain clean window screens?

Not every clean needs to be a knock-down, drag-out cleaning extravaganza. I mean, who has the time? Luckily, you can give your window screens a little TLC while they’re still in the window frames. This is especially helpful if you live in a high-rise apartment. Screenmobile suggests first vacuuming to remove any loose debris, then wiping or scrubbing them down with vinegar and a cloth or scrub brush (a toothbrush even works here!). A fun hack? If you don’t have a vacuum with a hose attachment, you can remove loose debris with a lint roller—works like a charm.

How do you deep-clean window screens?

Sometimes, you just gotta do it. The good news is, for most homes and areas, you’ll only need to deep clean once or twice a year.

What you’ll need to deep-clean your window screens:

  • ¼ cup of dish soap or distilled white vinegar
  • ½ gallon of water
  • A brush with soft bristles
  • A hose or buckets of warm water

How to deep-clean window screens:

  1. Start by removing the screens from the windows. You’ll want to scrub the whole screen to ensure you can get to all the built-up dirt from the last six months to a year.
  2. Mix a cleaning solution with dish soap or vinegar (or both!) and warm water in the above proportions.
  3. Dip your brush or cloth into the solution and saturate the screen with the solution, scrubbing and rinsing as you go until you’re satisfied with all the dirt you’ve removed. You might be horrified to see just how dark the water will turn.
  4. Rinse the screen either with a hose or buckets of warm water until they run clear.
  5. Set them out to dry completely before placing them back in the windows.

When to Replace Your Window Screens:

Unfortunately, window screens don’t last forever, and eventually (despite all your best cleaning efforts), they’ll need to be replaced. Screenmobile recommends repairing or replacing screens that are visibly worn down (with fading or discoloration), torn or dented, or have started to corrode or rust.

When was the last time you gave your window screens a wash? Tell us how you got the job done below.

Photo by Ty Mecham. Design by Angelyn Cabrales.

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Danfel January 19, 2024
I used to scrub my window screens and screen doors but I ended up damaging some parts so I decided to do some research. Then found a product that does not need rinse and scrub. the screen magic cleaner makes it easier:
jpriddy March 13, 2022
Thank you for this. It is very helpful. (I will note the the screen on our new Velux skylights are supposed to be removable for cleaning, but we have been unable to get them out of the frame—and this is a common enough problem that there are posts all over about it. Velux is not at all helpful.)
Lee J. March 10, 2022
Two easy ways:
1. Put them in the shower and spray them down with water and multi purpose cleaner.
2. Use fluffy Swiffer duster-- especially good to remove cottonwood fuzzies.
Smaug March 3, 2022
I find a small leaf blower (PLEASE none of those gas powered monstrosities- for any reason) very helpful. My screens are wood framed so sloshing around a lot of soapy water is not practical- washing needs to be done carefully.