8 Easiest Ways To Clean Window Screens

Picture this: It's the end of the summer, the air is getting crisp, leaves are starting to fall, and there's a slight breeze in the air that's been sticky and hot for months on end. Turning on the air conditioner probably seems like major overkill — which means it's officially time to open the windows.

After months of being shut and hit with pollen, dirt, and debris, opening your windows may not be the fresh-air experience you were hoping for. Believe it or not, but window screens should actually be scrubbed at least once a month (and that's being generous). Screen Mobile recommends cleaning your screens regularly, at least each time you wipe down your windows. Yeah, about that...

But if your window is looking in dire need of some TLC when you go to crack it in the morning, don't fret — while it will require a small bit of effort, you don't need to spend all day wiping them down! There are plenty of helpful hacks that'll get your screens clean in no time.

1. Microfiber cloth & water

If you live in an apartment and aren't able to fully remove each individual screen for washing (or just can't bear the added effort — that's fair, too), you can always give your windows a good scrub just where they are!

All you'll need is a microfiber cloth and a bucket of water. You may want to grab a few microfiber cloths to swap them out, since they'll get dirtier and dirtier as you go on — the last thing you want is to spread the same dirt around on a different screen. Don't use any old rag for this option, either; Microfiber cloths are made to be especially lint-free, so that you aren't introducing any added debris.

Simply soak the cloth in the water and squeeze out any added moisture to get it damp, but not dripping wet. Gently wipe the screen down in a side to side motion. Be careful not to add too much pressure, since this could easily break an older screen (via Frugally Blonde). Make your way around the house, and crack each sparkling clean window to let them dry — it's like a dream come true!

2. Lint roller

This method isn't meant to tackle substantially dirty window screens — for that, you'll definitely need a bit of elbow grease and some sort of liquid cleaner. But for those who regularly maintain their windows and want to add a little step to keep them extra clean around the clock, this one's for you.

You can actually use any old lint roller to remove debris from the screen — it's genius! Grab your lint roller from the junk drawer, tear off a fresh sheet, and get rolling up and down the screen. It'll remove any dust or pet hair that's on the surface. Apartment Therapy has another hack up their sleeve, too: If you have an old paint roller extender laying around, remove the lint roll and insert it on there for high-up and hard-to-reach windows. You can regularly integrate this into your cleaning routine, too, to lessen the load when it comes time to thoroughly wash your window screens.

3. Vacuum

If you like the thought of a lint roller but need something a little more powerful, try cleaning your window screens with a vacuum!

First, lay out some towels or a sheet. Then, remove each window screen and place them face down on top. HGTV notes that if you want to tackle every screen at once, make sure to label them accordingly — there's nothing worse than finishing a job and then spending hours putting the pieces back together like a puzzle that you didn't sign up for.

Once they're flat, use the arm extension of a vacuum — preferably with a soft nozzle to protect the screen — to suck up any dust and debris. Then, flip it over and give the other side a run over as well. This method may not remove caked-on grime, but it'll definitely spruce up your screens enough to allow for some better airflow in the home!

4. Garden hose

Most apartment dwellers may have to skip this one, but for homeowners deep in the woods or surrounded by trees, your windows may need an extra helping hand. Any gust of wind is sure to bring a bout of pollen, dirt, and — dare we say it — bug guts directly to your windows. It's crucial to keep up with them if you want to enjoy your morning coffee next to the cracked window, or sip on some tea on the screened in porch!

That's where the garden hose comes in. Remove each window screen and place it outside on a tarp, or any area far away from dirt. Prop each one up and give it a good rinse, spraying both sides. Leave them standing up to fully dry off, then pop them back into place and relish in the shining results of your hard work!

You can also use a pressure washer for this method, but professional cleaners on the forum Window Cleaner warn against it. Some say that a pressure washer is "overkill" and not necessary for the average window, but it might be necessary for larger areas, like a screened in porch. When possible, opt for a hose instead — that way, you aren't adding too much stress on older, brittle screens.

5. A DIY ammonia solution

If you need to deep clean — and we mean deep clean — your window screens, but want to avoid taking them all out, try whipping up your own homemade cleaner that you can apply while they're in place. The key here is to use a heavy duty ingredient, like ammonia, to really take care of the trapped dirt and dust, since you won't have as much flexibility in cleaning the screens while they're in place.

Use a quarter cup of ammonia mixed with 4 tablespoons of dish soap, 3 tablespoons of Borax cleaner, and 5 gallons of water to create your own cleaning solution. Be sure to take adequate safety precautions when using ammonia — you'll want to gear up with some goggles and gloves before handling the concentrated chemical.

Wipe down the window with a lint-free or microfiber cloth soaked in the mixture, and then wipe it down again with some plain warm water. You may need a few passes of the plain water to fully remove the chemical from the screen, but once you're done, you'll be in awe and ready to crack one open (via Hunker).

6. White vinegar

Is there anything white vinegar can't do? The answer to that is no — and its sparkling effects on window screens certainly proves it.

Since your windows are the direct line of airflow for your home, you don't want to go crazy cleaning with chemicals unless you absolutely have to. Instead, try something non-toxic and natural, like vinegar. Mother Earth Living suggests filling a spray bottle with another DIY mixture, but this time, it's nothing harsh — just equal parts water and vinegar. Dust then spray down each window. Whether or not you remove the screen is up to you, but either way, make sure you get both sides!

Afterwards, spray the screen with water only and pat it dry with a microfiber cloth to avoid any added debris or lint. The vinegar will also work as a deodorizer, so as the breeze starts to blow air back inside, you'll finally feel like you can breathe again.

7. Toothbrush

Maybe your windows have seen months of being shut tight over the winter, and they're running rampant with melted-snow-turned-straight-grime in all the cracks and crevices of the screen. The best way to get into all those nooks and crannies? A toothbrush, of course!

Royalty Windows suggests grabbing an unused, soft-bristled toothbrush (you know the ones that the dentist gives out after your visit, and you always forget about? Perfect!) to get the job done. Dip the brush in a dish soap and vinegar mixture (or just straight dish soap and water), and get scrubbing. There's no rhyme or reason to this method — just be absolutely cautious of the amount of force you're using, since you don't want to tear the screen. You can also use the brush to clean the inside of your window frame and remove and build-up that may have accumulated there!

Once the toothbrush has worked its magic and loosened all of the chunks of dirt that have been clogging your window screens, use a hose to give each one a good rinse. You'll be ready for that post-winter air in no time!

8. Baking soda and essential oils

If we've learned anything in life, it's that there's a DIY solution for everything. And while some turn out to be bogus hacks, others are just the key to getting things done in a suspiciously fabulous way.

Thankfully, this at-home cleaner from PopSugar falls into the latter category — and trust us, once you scrub your windows down with this, you won't want to go back to regular ol' water. You'll need a few ingredients to whip up a batch, starting with baking soda, washing soda, and 2 cups of water. Swish the mixture around in a spray bottle with a good shake. In a separate bottle, add 10 generous drops of lavender essential oil to some more water.

Spray the screens with the baking soda and washing soda mixture first and let it sit — no scrubbing required. After a few minutes, give the screens another spritz, but with the essential oil mixture, and you're good to go! Not only does the lavender tackle any mold clinging onto the screen, but the streak-free end result will undoubtedly smell fabulous — especially mixed with some much needed fresh air.