Every day, when you arrive home, the first thing you’re greeted by is your garage door, which opens wide to let you drive in. When people pass by your house or come over to visit, the garage door is often one of the first things they see.
The appearance of your garage door can say a lot about your home. A clean, sparkling door lets the world know what you care about your home’s appearance. On the other hand, a door that’s dingy, dirty or graffitied gives off a message of neglect and doesn’t reflect well on the rest of the home or neighborhood.
Fortunately, cleaning your garage door and removing any unwanted paint from its surface isn’t too difficult to do. Learn how to wash your garage door and keep it — and the rest of your home — looking fresh, inviting and new.
How to Clean Your Garage Door
You don’t have to clean your garage door that often, but it is a task that you should do at least once a year or, even better, once a season. The more often you clean your garage door, the less time the door will have to accumulate dirt and grime and the easier the chore will be. When you clean your door, it’s also a good idea to inspect the operations of the door and make sure that it’s not in need of any repairs or maintenance.
You don’t need to use a strong, harsh cleaning product to make your garage door look shiny and new. In fact, you’re better off using something gentle, such as dish soap or detergent designed for washing cars. Gentle detergents won’t strip away the paint or otherwise damage the surface of the door.
Ready to get started cleaning your door? Here’s what to do.
- Fill a bucket with warm water. Squirt in a bit of dish detergent, laundry detergent or car washing fluid.
- Soak a soft washcloth or sponge in the soapy water. Wring it out so that the sponge or cloth isn’t dripping liquid.
- Starting at the top left corner of the garage door, wipe the surface of the door in gentle circular motions, moving across the door from left to right.
- Once you’ve reached the opposite corner, lower your sponge or cloth slightly, then wipe across the door in the opposite direction, from right to left.
- Continue cleaning the door, moving from left to right and from right to left, until you get to the bottom. Now and then, stop and soak the cloth or sponge in the soapy water to freshen it.
- Rinse the door off using a spray nozzle attached to a hose.
- Gently dry the door with a towel. You can also let it air dry, which can take a couple of hours.
Although the exterior of the garage is going to be more likely to accumulate dirt and grime and is the part of the door visitors will see, it’s also a good idea to clean the interior of your door, too.
Move into the garage and close the door. Follow the same steps listed above to remove any dust and grime. Instead of trying to spray your door from the inside with a hose, soak a clean sponge or cloth with fresh water and use it to wash away any remnants of the soap gently.
How to Tackle Stubborn Stains on a Garage Door
While loose dirt and dust should come off of the surface of the door with ease, there might be some materials that are a little more stubborn. If you find yourself facing sticky sap or another tricky stain on the door, there are ways to scrub gently it away.
One option is to soak a nylon-bristled brush with the soapy water, then use the brush to scrub away any marks. Be very cautious when you scrub, as you don’t want to remove the paint from the surface accidentally. Another option is to take a soft-bristled toothbrush to the stains. Toothbrushes are usually soft enough to remove stuck-on spots without causing damage.
In some cases, a stain is too stubborn to respond to a gentle scrubbing. Don’t worry, though, as you can still try to remove it without damaging the surface of the door. Often, you can remove very stubborn stains using a dilute mixture of bleach and water.
Mix about a half a cup of bleach into a gallon of warm water. Put on rubber or vinyl gloves to protect your hands from the solution, as bleach can be very irritating to the skin. Next, soak a clean washcloth or sponge in the solution and wring out. Gently wipe the area with the stain with the sponge or cloth. You might need to put some elbow grease into it, but you should see the stain fading away. Rinse, then let dry.
What Not to Do When Cleaning a Garage Door
If your garage door is looking notably worse for wear, using a pressure washer might seem like an excellent way to make quick work of a tough job. But it’s usually not a good idea to use a high-pressure washer to clean a door. The force behind a pressure washer can damage the door’s paint surface or the surface of the door itself.
You’ll also want to skip the harsh detergents or strong cleansers — except for diluted bleach for tough stains. Abrasive cleaners can damage the paint on the door. Harsh cleaners and high-pressure washing can also damage the seals or weatherstripping on a garage door, making it more prone to leaking.
Cleaning a Metal vs. Wooden Door
Not all garage doors are the same. A few are made from wood while some are made from painted metal, such as aluminum or steel. For general cleaning purposes, you can treat a wooden garage door like you would a metal garage door. You should be able to clean either with a gentle soap and water solution. If you’re trying to remove paint or graffiti from the door, you’ll want to use special techniques based on the material.
The Best Way to Remove Paint and Graffiti From a Garage Door
Nothing lasts forever, and that includes the paint on the surface of a garage door. Years of exposure to sun, rain and other weather elements can affect the quality of the paint on the door, causing it to chip or flake off. In many ways, cracked or peeling paint on a garage door is a lot worse for curb appeal than a dirty door.
Graffiti can also be a problem and isn’t something you want hanging around on your door. While you can hire a garage door repair company to remove the worn-out paint or to cover up the graffiti, these are also problems you can try to fix yourself.
The best way to clean paint and graffiti off a garage door depends on the type of garage door you have and also the nature and texture of the paint or graffiti. Some graffiti and paint are very mild and soft on the surface. You can often easily remove soft paint or graffiti by spraying water from a garden hose. Other types of paints and graffiti are not so easy to clean.
No matter what kind of garage door you have, the sooner you remove old paint or graffiti from your garage door, the better. If the graffiti is left to sit on the door for longer than a few days, it might be challenging to remove. In that case, your best bet might be to skip removal and to try to paint over the graffiti.
How to Remove Paint and Graffiti From a Metal Garage Door
If your door is made of steel, aluminum or another type of metal, you should use a solvent designed for removing graffiti or paint.
To use the solvent, follow the instructions on the packaging. Usually, the steps involved are as follows:
- Spray the solvent over top of the graffiti or paint you’d like to remove.
- Let the solvent soak into the graffiti or paint. You can leave it to sit for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a half an hour, depending on the product and its directions.
- Use a nylon brush that has stiff bristles to scrape away the graffiti. Be gentle, as you only want to remove the graffiti, not the door’s paint. Whatever you do, don’t use a brush with metal bristles.
- Wipe the area clean with a rag, to remove any tiny bits of lingering graffiti.
- Rinse with clean water and let dry.
Depending on how large the graffiti is, you might have to work in sections. Only try to remove a small amount at once, so that the solvent doesn’t end up sitting on the door’s surface for too long.
How to Remove Paint and Graffiti From a Wooden Garage Door
If you try to use a solvent on a wooden garage door, you’re asking for trouble. The chemicals in the solvent won’t just damage the graffiti. They can also damage the wood material of the door, causing more harm than good in the long run.
Often, the best way to clean a wooden garage door involves spraying and scraping.
- Spray down the door with a garden hose to remove any dust, dirt, grime and the chipped off paint or graffiti from the garage door. You can also use a nylon brush to scrub off the debris. Let the door air dry after spraying it.
- After it’s dry, use a paint scraper and scrape off any paint or graffiti that is still there. Follow the grain of the wood as you scrape, rather than going against the grain.
- After you’ve removed the paint or graffiti, sand the surface of the door using 30 grit sandpaper. Repeat with 60 grit sandpaper after the first pass. Sanding the door’s surface will smooth it down, removing any scratches created by the scraper.
- To finish, spray the door with water and let it dry.
Depending on the how the deeply you had to scrape the door to remove the graffiti, you might need to repaint the area. To do so, prime it first, then apply a coat of paint to cover up any signs of wear.
Tips for Protecting a Painted Garage Door
Once you’ve cleaned up your garage door and have removed any chipped paint or graffiti, what can you do to make it look as good as possible for as long as possible? Seal the door so that water, sunshine and other debris are less likely to cause damage to it.
If your garage door is made of steel, you can apply a coat of car wax to its surface to keep out dust and dirt and to preserve its shiny, clean look for as long as possible. Keep in mind that you should only wax steel doors — don’t try this on wooden or aluminum doors. For best results, apply the wax coating to a steel garage door at least twice a year.
Protect a wood door by staining or painting it. You can also paint aluminum doors.
Checking the Tracks and Hinges
When your garage door opens and closes, it moves up and down a track. That movement can cause a considerable amount of vibration, which can make it easier for the paint to chip off or become loose. To preserve the finish on your door, make sure the tracks are as smooth as possible so that your garage door moves up and down with ease. You might need to apply a lubricant to the tracks every few months or so to keep the door running smoothly and to keep the paint intact.
Why Keep Your Garage Door Clean and Beautiful?
There are a few reasons why it can be worth your time and energy to clean your garage door and to remove any chipped paint or graffiti from its surface. For one thing, taking excellent care of your door sends the message that you care about your home.
A garage door that has graffiti sprayed all over it practically screams to the world that you aren’t particularly invested in your property or that you don’t care about what people think of your home. It can be an invitation for more graffiti or worse.
Even if you don’t have graffiti on the door of your garage, not taking the time to clean it up now and then can suggest that you aren’t that invested in your neighborhood or where you live. A dingy door can be an eyesore, especially on a block where everyone else has taken the time to make their garages look good.
When you go to sell your home, if that’s something you hope to do, not having an attractive garage door can take away from the curb appeal. People coming to view the house might not even step inside if the exterior looks careworn.
Another benefit of keeping your garage door clean is that it saves you time in the end. It’s a lot easier to remove some loose dust and dirt from the door’s surface than it is to remove years’ worth of caked on dirt and debris.
The same is true of graffiti. If you get to it right away, it’s not that difficult to remove. But if you let it sit, the graffiti almost becomes part of the door itself, meaning you need to invest a lot more time in the process of cleaning the door or you might need to completely paint over the door to hide the graffiti.
Contact Aaron’s Garage Doors for Maintenance Needs
Cleaning and protecting the surface of your garage door is just one part of the maintenance process. You also want to make sure the door’s motor continues to work well, the door can move smoothly along its tracks and the tension springs aren’t under too much tension or pressure. Whatever your garage door maintenance concern is, Aaron’s Garage Doors can help you out. Contact us today to request an estimate or to schedule service.