How To Clean Window Screens In 10 Easy Steps

It’s almost easier than cleaning the actual windows (Screens don’t streak!).

Window screens are such unsung heroes. They keep out a lot of junk, but still allow you to let some fresh air in (and stale air out!). You should extra appreciate your window screens if you live someplace that’s really buggy. Everyone loves springtime when the flowers bloom, but getting mosquito bites while you’re sleeping and having to endure that maddening buzz of houseflies is tortuous, after all.

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And window screens take some serious abuse, from sun and wind to snow and pollen. When you combine all those external variables with all that interior dust (pet dander, skin cells, hair, etc.) that gets trapped in them, you’ll notice that your screens have become majorly gross. Sometimes it’s hard to even tell that they’re screens, once their little grids become so clogged with grime (not unlike the lint trap of a dryer).

Any good seasonal cleaning—especially each spring—should include the cleaning of the screens. The cleaner your screens, the more easily the smells of the blooming lilacs and freshly mowed lawn can waft into your bedroom, without having to actually face the dreaded pollen.

How to clean window screens in 10 easy steps


  • Tarp
  • Garden hose
  • Optional cleaning agents: white vinegar or dish soap (our favorite is Dawn)
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Towel

1. Remove the screens

This should be intuitive, but screens all vary. There are usually little pins or tabs on the bottom side of the screen that can be pushed in or out to release the screen, allowing you to gently push or pull it out of the window frame. If your screen doesn’t have tabs, you can use a flathead screwdriver or a butter knife to pry the screen loose from its frame and wiggle it out.

  • If you’re feeling really ambitious and washing, like, all of your window screens at the same time, be sure you know which screen came from which window. This will make putting the clean screens back in go much more smoothly, trust us.

2. Lay your screens down on the tarp outside

Ideally, you chose to do this chore on a bright, sunny day. Maybe you even put on sunscreen for this task. Bonus points for you.

3. Take your garden hose

and set its nozzle to its lowest pressure setting, so you don’t do any damage to the screens.

4. Give the screens a thorough rinse

to knock loose any dust, dirt, grime and visible debris.

  • Alternatively, you can hit the screens with a vacuum attachment to clear out most of the initial grit and dirt before hosing them off, depending where they fall on the not-so-bad to super filthy scale.

5. Throw on some gloves

6. In your bucket, mix up one of the following cleaning solutions,

depending how dirty your screens are.

  • For really dirty window screens: warm water + white vinegar at a 1:1 ratio
  • For mildly dirty window screens: about 1 gallon of warm water + several drops of dish soap (our preference? Dawn Dish Soap)

7. Grab your scrub brush, and dip it into the solution

Scrub the screens (we enjoy small, circular scrubs) from top to bottom. Dip and rinse your scrub brush often in the solution for best results.

8. Once you’re done scrubbing,

give the screens a final rinse with the hose to remove any residue from your cleaning solution and to free the screens of any remaining dirt.

9. Double check the screens

Are they as clean as they could be? Take this opportunity to spot clean any especially stubborn or gunky sections.

10. You can towel dry the screens

or simply lean them up against a wall to let them air dry. Be sure they’re totally dry before returning them to their windows.

For rusty screens

  • You can treat rust spots on your window screens by removing the screens or not, it’s up to you. Super rusty screens may be easier to treat if they’re removed.
  • Put some white vinegar into a spray bottle, and apply generously to the rusty spots.
  • Let the vinegar soak in for a couple hours.
  • Wet your bristle brush with warm water, and gently scrub the rust spots, being mindful not to bend or warp the screen.
  • For really stubborn rust, mix a baking soda paste by adding a few drops of water to several tablespoons of baking soda.
    • Apply the baking soda paste to the rusted screen with your scrub brush, and let it set for about 5–10 minutes.
    • Scrub the paste until the rust comes off, and repeat as necessary.
  • Rinse the area with a clean, damp rag, and let it air dry.

Pro tips for lazy window screen cleaning

Oh, you don’t have the time to pop out all those screens, get out the house, lay everything out in the lawn and make a day of it? Fine, we get it. Here are a few tips for quickie window screen cleaning that will take just a couple minutes.

  • Hit your screens with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Durable without even removing them from the windows.
  • Just soak the sponge, give it a good wring and scrub gently on the screen, without pushing so hard as to deform or stretch out the screen’s integrity. We like the Extra Durable version for this task.
  • Routine window screen maintenance with a simple lint roller (or better yet, a Swiffer Duster) can help your screens stay fresh throughout each season. If you remember to do this biweekly, your screens shouldn’t get too clogged or gross in the long run.
  • Use a soft bristle vacuum attachment to vacuum your window screens while they’re still in the windows. We suggest vacuuming your window screens monthly.
  • Spot treat your grimy screens with an old toothbrush. You can use either the vinegar or soapy water solutions recommended above, but just do a mini version of them to spot treat the window screen without having to remove it. Lay down a towel in the window sill to avoid a mess, and be sure to rinse the screen with a clean, damp rag to remove vinegar or soap residue when you’re done.

While you’re cleaning your window screens, you ought to also clean the windows. There’s really no excuse, we’ve even got your recipes for the perfect DIY window cleaner right here—which also works perfectly for cleaning mirrors. Kill three birds with one stone, ya know. (No actual birds were harmed in the cleaning of these windows.)

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