A Step-by-Step Guide to DIY Window Screen Cleaning

Even the dirtiest window screens are no match for some good old soap and water

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated June 28, 2022
Plants and a watering can in front of a window screen
Photo: Olga Ionina / Adobe Stock


No experience? No problem.

Time to complete

3 hours

The time to complete depends on the number of windows.



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What you'll need:


  • Scrub brush
  • Vacuum
  • Sponge
  • Hose
  • Dry towel


  • Soap, all-purpose cleaner, or vinegar
  • Water
  • Baking soda (optional)

While the cobwebs on your window screens may have been a natural decor element for Halloween, you probably don’t want that grime haunting you all year long. Whether your windows have a light layer of dust or are covered in dried-on dirt and rust, it’s easy to clean them up to their former glory. Grab a few cleaning supplies and get ready to make your window screens look new again.

  1. Remove Screens

    A man removing a window screen
    Photo: bildlove / Adobe Stock

    The easiest way to clean window screens is to completely remove them from the window and place them outside. This way, you can access all four corners and avoid making a mess inside your home.

  2. Evaluate the Grime

    If you clean screens regularly, about once per month, this project will be light cleaning. Dusty window screens are easy to clean up with just some water or a vacuum. If you’ve never cleaned the window screens or you just only clean them about once a year, you’ll need to grab a scrub brush and prepare for more work. Check out the steps below to determine the best course of action for your windows. 

  3. Rinse Lightly Dirty Screens

    Cleaning window screens is a great task to add to your monthly cleaning routine. If you clean them this often, you’ll need to rinse them with the garden hose and dry them. This will remove any light dust, spider webs, or other debris that can get trapped in the screen.

  4. Vacuum Dusty Screens

    If you live in an area with high dust, like in a desert location or near wildfire-prone areas, your screens may get dusty quickly, even with regular cleaning. You can vacuum the screens to remove higher levels of dust. Attach a soft bristle attachment and lightly run it across the screen to clean the screen.

  5. Clean With Soap

    If cleaning the window screens slips your mind until they’re hard to see through, you’ll just need some soap and water to clean them up.

    • Mix about one-fourth of a cup of soap, all-purpose cleaner, or white vinegar with a half-gallon of warm water.

    • Use a sponge to wash the screens

    • Rinse away the soap with a hose.

    • Dry the window with a clean towel.

  6. Scrub Away Stubborn Dirt

    Maybe you’re working on a fixer-upper, or you simply never remember to wash the screens, and now they are caked in dirt and dust. Just trying to spray them with water will leave you with a muddy, streaky mess. Instead, grab a cleaning brush to dislodge the dirt.

    • Scrub dirt away with a brush. Use light pressure to avoid damaging the screen.

    • You can also use a new toothbrush, reserved specifically for cleaning the house, to gently brush away dirt in those tiny screen holes.

    • After you’ve scrubbed off most of the dried dirt, you can start doing a deeper clean with soap, water, and a sponge.

  7. Remove Rust

    Older screens or screens exposed to extreme weather may get rusty over time, but you don’t have to live with it unless you really love a rustic look.

    • With the screen lying flat outside, pour white vinegar over the rusted areas. Let it set into these spots for about one to two hours.

    • Use a brush and clean water to gently scrub in the areas where you poured the vinegar. This step should remove most of the rust, so follow up by drying the screen with a clean towel.

    • If you still have rust, make a paste with about one-half of a cup of baking soda and 2 or 3 tablespoons of water until it reaches a toothpaste-like consistency.

    • Use a brush to scrub the baking soda paste into the rust until it lifts. Rinse with clean water and fully dry the screen with a towel.

  8. Dry and Replace the Screens

    A hand pulling down a window screen
    Photo: mirsad / Adobe Stock

    The key to preventing more rust from happening or trapping more dust and dirt is to fully dry the screens. Use a clean towel to dry them, and let them air dry in the sunshine before replacing the screens. Now, open up your windows and let the fresh air in through those clean, breezy window screens.

DIY Cleaning Window Screens Vs. Hiring a Pro 

Rinsing the window with a hose is an easy cleaning project, but you may not have the time or desire to sit outside scrubbing off caked-on mud or dust. Consider hiring a professional window cleaner near you to make those window screens look brand new. 

You may even hire a cleaning team to make the window glass shine, too. The cost to have a pro clean all of your windows typically ranges from $185 to $440.

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Get quotes from top-rated pros.