How Do You Deep Clean Window Tracks?

Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated September 27, 2021
a deck features patio furniture, wood floor, and four large windows
Javani LLC - stock.adobe.com

No matter how breathtaking the view outside your window, dirty window tracks can steal the spotlight

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You might find yourself gazing out your window during a particularly dull video meeting, daydreaming the time away. But if you find your window tracks crusted with dirt and debris, those lazy daydreams can quickly turn to night terrors. But take heart: Good window maintenance takes just a little time and effort. Here’s how to keep those tracks pristine and lovely with just a bit of elbow grease and some consistent care.

What Are Window Tracks, Anyway, and Why Should I Care?

Your window track rests behind your window sill and holds your window in place. The track also keeps out drafts and allows you to open and close your window smoothly. However, the track’s nooks and crannies allow dust, dirt, allergens, and bugs to accumulate quickly. In addition to ruining your windows’ visual appeal, debris in your window tracks can cause your windows to stick and the tracks and casements to warp, especially if mold and bacteria begin to grow. 

Not maintaining your window frames can be a costly oversight, since the average cost to replace a single window is around $650. It’s generally a good idea to clean your tracks at least a couple of times a year—and don’t forget to clean your vertical tracks too.

“Window track maintenance is important and beneficial to the upkeep of your windows and your health inside your home,” says Asya Biddle, Expert Review Board member and owner of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  “Regular cleaning will remove not only dirt and debris, but also bacteria and allergens that may cause indoor air quality issues."

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You probably already have all the materials you need to deep clean your window tracks. But to make the process easier, you should gather them together before you begin. That way, you won’t have to stop, find what you need, and pick up where you left off. If you’re like us, if you don’t get what you need to finish in a single go, it’s just too easy to get sidetracked and before you know it, you’re off window tracks and onto a big scoop of Turtle Tracks ice cream.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Spray bottle

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Water

  • Dish soap

  • Paper towels

  • An old toothbrush

  • Wet rag

  • Spoon

  • Toothpick

  • Vacuum (optional)

2. Vacuum and Soda

While you don’t have to use your vacuum to help clear loose debris from your tracks, using the vacuum to clear the dirt, debris, and bugs from the tracks speeds up the cleaning process and aids in leaving less debris behind.

If you’re vacuuming, make sure to use the smallest attachment and, if you have one, a brush attachment to suck up dirt and other debris in the corners.

After that, or if you’ve decided to skip the vacuum entirely, it’s soda time. With your spoon, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the entire window track. Make sure to coat all those little nooks and crannies since most dirt and debris collect there.

3. Prep Your Cleaning Solution

While you wait for the baking soda to do its magic in loosening who-knows-how-many years of gunk, start mixing your cleaning solution.

In your spray bottle, mix equal parts water and white vinegar. Then add a few drops of liquid dish soap and shake the bottle well. Finally, spray the solution onto the baking soda. Make sure to saturate the soda and that the entire window track is covered well with the baking soda/cleaning solution combo.

Now we wait for chemistry to do its thing. In about 5 minutes or so, the mixture will begin to bubble. That means it’s go time.

closeup of white window and track with gold lock clasps
Wirestock - stock.adobe.com

4. Grab a Toothbrush and Get Your Scrub On

Once your mixture has started to bubble, it’s ready for scrubbing. A toothbrush is perfect for this task because those small bristles can really dig into those tiny crevices, clearing out the debris from all those hard-to-reach surfaces.

With a bit of scrubbing, that dynamic duo of vinegar and baking soda will help you loosen even the most stubborn, caked-on dirt, leaving your tracks beaming and gleaming like new.

If you find that you’ve still got some dirt and debris, especially in the corners, then put down the toothbrush and pick up the toothpick. The toothpick lets you get at those troublesome tight spots, digging out whatever the toothbrush might have left behind.

5. The Wipe Down

Once you’ve finished with the scrubbing, give your tracks a final wipe down with a wet rag or paper towel. Again, if you’re using your vacuum, you might give the tracks another quick once-over to take care of any leftover debris.  

Now that you’ve gotten your tracks all fresh and gleaming, give them a quick swipe with a pre-moistened cleaning wipe a couple of times a week to keep them looking like new for longer.

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