How to Clean Painted Windows and Door Trim - dummies

How to Clean Painted Windows and Door Trim

By Gill Chilton

Accept that cleaning painted windows and door trims is a slow task and you’ll do a worthwhile job. Choose to do this job in the autumn so that you can take care of any problems you uncover before harsh winter weather does even more damage.

First, use old rags to take away the worst of the dirt. Feel free to rub vigorously, even if doing so causes the paint to bubble – quite likely with older paintwork. The winter weather does the same thing; you’re just getting in first.

After the surface dirt is wiped away, wash the paint using a large sponge and an all-purpose liquid cleaner that doesn’t need rinsing. Sugar soap is an expensive but effective choice.

Dry with clean cloths, and make a decision about which areas need paint. Certainly now’s the time to do that because any area that needs repainting to protect the wood underneath from bad weather is now clean and ready. Simply rub down the to-be-painted patches with sandpaper, and you’re ready to open up that can of waterproof exterior paint.

Your door furniture – the knobs, knockers, and all – is real first-impression stuff, and making it count takes all of 15 minutes every month.

First, dust the door, reaching into the corners of grooves. Next, get to the grimiest bits – the doorbell, knocker, and the area surrounding the key. Use a quality, slightly damp cloth (for best results, choose a microfibre one) to rub away finger marks.

Apply cream metal polish or brass cleaner to the knob, knocker, and any other metal bits, and buff them to a shine with a clean cloth. Finally, whilst you’re there with cloth and spray, give the once-over to any exterior utility boxes (meters). As ever in cleaning, it’s going that extra metre (or in this case, meter!) that shows you care.

If your key has begun to stick in the lock, now’s the time to fix that problem. Using the extension straw on a light lubricant such as WD-40, spray a few drops into the lock. Shield the door surface around the lock with a cloth as you turn the key both ways to remove any excess lubricant.

An annual clean with water and a mild liquid detergent is good enough for most doors, including those wood doors that have been stained or painted. Be sure to rinse off the solution, then dry thoroughly.

As you clean, and again six months later, make a point to check the condition of your wood door. Look for areas where the colour has started to patch or has lost its sheen. Then, once every three years or so, prepare to be so disappointed during this check-up that you decide to paint or re-stain.

Before you paint or re-stain, prepare the door. Use a fungicidal wash to strip off any algae. This will help with dirt too. Rinse and dry the door, then very gently sand any areas where the weather has worn away paint or stain. Rub the entire door with a nylon abrasive pad, then get painting.

Take care to get the colour right: it’s impossible to lighten with stain, and very easy to go too dark.