How to Clean Painted Wood Doors

You may have a metal or fiberglass front door with a permanent finish, but even so, it's best to clean it with the same gentle cleaning solution you would used on a painted or varnished wood door. The gentle cleaner is a must on painted doors because a harsh cleaner can dull paint or even remove some of it. If you're dealing with difficult stains, such as ground-in scuff marks or smoke, you may need a tougher cleaner that could dull the paint finish.

Choosing a Cleaner

Start with a 1-gallon bucket filled with warm water:

  • Pour in an ounce of dish soap for a mild cleaner that will remove dirt and grim from interior painted doors and most exterior ones. Add a teaspoon of baking soda for enhanced cleaning. Mix well and pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
  • Use ammonia as an alternative to dish soap. Mix in a ratio of 1 to 2 cups per gallon of water, depending on the strength of the cleaner you need.
  • Mix 1/4 cup of trisodium phosphate for extreme cleaning power. TSP is a powerful grease- and scuff-remover, but it's strong enough to dull and even remove paint. Use it in a low concentration, and only if you need it to remove problems stains, such as smoke.

Washing Procedure

Step 1

Dust the door with a dry rag to get rid of loose dirt.

Step 2

Wash the door with a mild cleaning solution, using a sponge or rag. Start at the top and work your way down. If the door has panels, start with those, then do the rails and stiles and finish with the edges.

Step 3

Spot-clean with a TSP solution, if necessary. Put the solution in a spray bottle and test it on the edge of the door. If you're satisfied with the results, spray stains and wipe them away with a damp rag.

Step 4

Rinse the door with a rag dampened with clear water after washing it with any type of cleaner.

Cleaning Door Hardware

Door hardware may be brass, brass-plated or some other material, and it may or may not be coated with clear lacquer. In most cases, you can use the same gentle soap solution that you used to clean the door to clean the hardware. To clean tarnished, unlacquered hardware, make a paste using baking soda and equal amounts of lemon juice and vinegar. Rub tarnished areas, using a cloth, rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.