One project you may put off as long as possible is cleaning your window screens.

Doing this job is such a pain because there are so many small spots to dust off.

By learning how to clean your screens efficiently, it won’t be the bane of your existence anymore. Not only that but with your screens cleaner than ever, you might not have to go back to clean them as often.
In this ultimate guide to cleaning window screens, we’ll share our favorite tips, tricks, and secrets to beautifully clean window screens you’ll be excited to show off.





Step 1: Taking out the Screens

Before you take your screens off, make sure you have a sizeable drop cloth or table ready to lie them down on.

After all, they’re going to be quite dirty if they’ve never been sufficiently cleaned. Also, it’s best to keep all screen cleaning outdoors if yours are filthy.

You can now remove the window screens completely. This is the best way to get a deep clean on both sides.


Step 2: Cleaning the Screens

Just how dirty are your window screens? There are a few ways to tell. The level of dirt and grime your screens have accumulated will change the cleaning method.

Here are four levels of dirtiness to keep in mind:


Level one (just a tad dirty):

The first level of dirtiness is the easiest to clean. You’ve either been keeping up on your cleaning or your windows are new because there’s not a lot of dirt, dust, or grime to be found.

You can simply remove the screen and gently spray it down with a hose.


Level two (more than a little dirty):

If you only barely go over your window screens with a cloth or some cleaning spray, they’ll probably be considered level two on the dirtiness scale.

They have a lot of loose dirt and dust and maybe some mess that’s caked on and hardened. You’re going to have to do more work to dislodge everything.


Level three (very dirty):

How often do you clean your window screens? If it’s once a year or even more seldom than that, then your screens would probably qualify as being very dirty.

Everything on the screens is hardened and seems impossible to come off. Don’t despair. You can still get your screens looking great, but it’s going to take a lot of elbow grease.

Level four (extremely dirty): It’s okay to admit that you’ve never bothered to clean your window screens before. If so, they’ll be the fourth level of dirtiness, which is about as bad as you can get. Everything is filthy, so much so that you barely want to touch the screens.

Once you get into good window screen cleaning habits, you won’t have to deal with such a mess again.

After you determine how dirty your windows are, you can begin gathering the supplies needed for the job. Here’s what we recommend you use:

  • A towel
  • Scrubbing brushes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Several buckets
  • Garden hose for cleaning outside
  • Lint brush
  • Vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Soft cloth
  • Unused toothbrush
  • Sponge

Have you got everything you need? Now let’s get started. As we suggest the following cleaning methods, we’ll start with the easiest cleaning for the most pristine screens and work our way down to the dirtiest.

Easy Cleaning Level

The first method you can try for screens that don’t have much dirt on them is to use a lint brush. You probably already have one of these brushes lying around the house, which is convenient.

This cleaning method will only work if your window screens are barely dirty (so dirtiness level one). Also, if the dirt is hardened or caked on, you’ll need more than a lint brush to dislodge it.

Lying your screen flat on a tarp, roll the lint brush over the front of it. Make sure you get the screen in its entirety. Then, turn the screen over and clean the other side, again going over the whole thing.

You may have to repeat this process at least twice before the dirt is fully removed. For caked-on, hardened dirt, you can try a wet lint brush or a sponge and some elbow grease. If you prefer, you can squirt a dollop of dish soap onto the sponge and see if that removes the hardened dirt more efficiently.

Medium Cleaning Level

For level two of window screen dirtiness, we recommend you plug in your vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaning window screens

You must use a soft brush attachment for cleaning. You don’t want to accidentally ruin your screens trying to clean them, right? Any other vacuum attachment probably will.

Once your soft brush attachment is securely on the vacuum cleaner, turn the vacuum on its lowest setting if possible. If you can’t change your vacuum’s settings, then make sure you keep the vacuum a decent distance away from the screen. You do not want any direct contact here since the screen can rip from the force of the vacuum’s air pressure.

Going slowly yet thoroughly, clean the whole screen with the vacuum. Then, once again, turn the screen over and repeat the process on the other side. Take your time with this so you suck up all the loose dirt and dust.

If your window screens are dirtier still (the third level of dirtiness at least), the vacuum cleaner probably won’t get rid of everything. It might still be worth trying, but you’ll also need an alternate method.

Cleaning Products

You can make your own cleaning products to get your screens looking spotless. How? Combine lukewarm water with some dish soap.

For every half gallon, you use, squirt in just a little dish soap, one tablespoon.

If you don’t have dish soap or if you need an even deeper clean, you could always use white vinegar. You’d still want a tablespoon per half a gallon.

You’ll have to take the rest of this cleaning job outside. Your screens should be misted, and the fastest way to do that is with an outdoor garden hose.

Once you fully wet the screens, take a soft cloth, soak it in the water/dish soap (or vinegar) mixture, and begin cleaning. You can also use a sponge in lieu of a soft cloth, but make sure it’s a soft sponge that won’t scratch the screen.
Repeat this process as many times as needed until the screens are shining. Don’t leave any dish soap or vinegar residue.

To prevent this, you’ll want to wash both sides of the screen with water. Your garden hose can be used for this. Then, let the screens air-dry outside before you bring them back in.

Advanced Cleaning

Our final two methods on how to clean a window screen are more advanced. These should only be used for the dirtiest window screens that have received the least amount of attention until now.

First, you can use the abovementioned household cleaning mixture. Combine lukewarm water with dish soap or white vinegar once more.

Again, for each half gallon of water, add in a tablespoon of the vinegar or dish soap.

Instead of using a soft cloth or sponge, this time, you want an unused toothbrush. One with soft bristles is best to reduce your chances of damaging the screen. 

Dip your toothbrush in the mixture and clean the entire screen, going slowly to ensure you removed all the dirt and other debris.
Flip the screen over and do the same thing on the other side.

Once again, rinse the whole thing with a garden hose so there’s no leftover residue from the vinegar or dish soap. Leave the screens outside to dry for a while as well.
The other method you can try involves making an ammonia mixture. You’ll need lukewarm water.

The ratio of water to ammonia should be 3:1. You should always wear rubber gloves when working for ammonia for your safety.

Using a scrubbing brush, get it soaked in the mixture and again, clean your screen. Move in a circular motion as you do so.

All ammonia residue must be thoroughly cleaned off with your garden hose. Leave the screen to air-dry.

Reattaching Screens

Whew, you’re finally done! Whether your cleaning job was easy or more difficult, your window screens are looking better than ever.

To keep them looking that way, we recommend you check for holes or gaps in the screen. These allow small critters and insects to get in, which can be problematic.

You can actually use translucent nail polish to block up gaps and holes. If it’s a bigger hole we’re talking about, then maybe run to the store and buy some sealant.
Once you’re sure your window screens are hole and gap-free, you can reattach them where they were.


Attempting to clean a window screen isn’t the most fun job, but it’s one that has to be done nonetheless.

The more regularly you do it, the less work you’ll have to put in the next time you clean.

You can often use a lint brush or a soft sponge to dislodge dirt, grime, and other messes that have accumulated on the screens.
If the screens are even dirtier, you can go to the homemade cleaning route. You can try white vinegar, dish soap, or even ammonia to get your screens looking shiny and new. Good luck!