How to Clean Your Garage Door (How Often & What You Need)

I’ll bet your idea of how to clean your garage door is hosing it off once a year if it looks dirty.

There’s a bit more to it than that, especially if you’ve got a chalky garage door like the one below.

One of the craziest parts about becoming a homeowner was the regular maintenance that I wasn’t aware of.

I’ve written a quick guide on lubricating your garage door, which helps keep the door in tip-top working shape. Cleaning your garage door is a simple process that can be just as quick and easy.

How should you clean your garage door?

  • Use a regular garden hose to wash off any loose dirt or dust. Don’t use a pressure washer!
  • Using a clean bucket, mix a small amount of dish soap or car wash soap (preferred) with water
  • With a soft sponge or cloth, apply the soap to the door in a circular motion
  • Rinse off with a garden hose
  • For steel or fiberglass doors, apply a light coat of spray car wax
  • Wipe off any excess with a dry cloth
  • Clean with weather stripping around the door with a general-purpose cleaner

Before we start, let’s cover some important things to remember about washing your garage door.

Chalky garage door before wash

Cleaning Your Garage Door: Do These Every Time!

Clean your garage door twice yearly (at least)

You wash your car more than twice a year, right? (please say yes)

Your garage door is exposed to the same stuff that your car is: wind, rain, snow, dust, dirt, bugs, and more. All of them can damage the surface of your paint and start eating away at the surface below.

So it makes sense that your garage door needs the same attention. That means a wash to get rid of the accumulated dirt or grime and wax to give it a protective coat.

Wax your garage door

People always give me funny looks when I say this.

Did you know that every major garage door manufacturer recommends waxing your garage door at least once a year?

It adds a protective coating that enhances the door’s finish while keeping it from getting damaged or faded by the elements.

Obviously, this is only going to be for metal and fiberglass doors. If you’ve got a wood garage door, it’s not going to make much sense, right?

Choose a type of wax depending on where you live.

Most areas of North America can use a spray car wax like Meguiar’s Ultimate Quik Wax, which is the same thing I use on my car. If you live near the coast and have a lot of salt brought in from the ocean, Meguiar’s also makes a “Marine and RV” wax, but I’ve never used it. Once I get that house on the beach I’ve been dreaming about, I’ll switch over.

Clean your weatherstripping as well!

The weatherstripping around your garage door forms an insulating seal to help keep the elements out of your garage. You may not notice it as much as your door’s exterior, but it is an important part that needs attention.

You’ll want to use a general-purpose cleaner to wipe off any accumulated dirt or grease. This is an excellent time to inspect the weather stripping for cracks or other damage.

Cleaning Your Garage Door: NEVER Do These:

Never use a pressure washer on your garage door

I get it.

Pressure washers are COOL! I bought one and immediately started cleaning stuff because it’s quick and easy.

There are many excellent ways to use a pressure washer, but you should never use one to clean your garage door.

A power washer is great for getting caked-on dirt, stains, or algae off hard surfaces like your sidewalk. 

Even if you use a pressure washer with a 40-degree nozzle, you have the potential to damage your door or the weather stripping.

Every major garage door manufacturer says explicitly not to use a pressure washer because it will potentially damage your door and void your warranty.

Plus…if you’re following along and washing your garage door at least twice a year, you shouldn’t have anything stuck on there that needs a pressure washer to get off.

Never wash your garage door in direct sunlight

This is a must, especially if you live in the South like me.

If possible, clean your garage door early in the morning or in the afternoon\early evening, making your job a whole lot easier.

Your garage door is the biggest non-insulated surface in your house, so it traps heat. This is especially true for dark-colored garage doors.

If the door gets too hot, it’ll start breaking down the chemicals in the soap and wax as you applying them.

That leads to the “chalky garage door” look we’re trying to avoid.

Never use bleach to clean your garage door

My mother is the type of person to use pure bleach on everything because there’s nothing like the raw cleaning power of undiluted bleach. That makes it her go-to cleaning product.

There’s only one problem: it’s extremely harsh. My mom has bleached things so often that she’s literally burned off her fingerprints.

Imagine what that could do to the protective finish or the paint on your garage door.

How to Clean a Garage Door (Step-by-Step)

It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes to clean your garage door from start to finish.

It’s a simple cleaning process that helps enhance your home’s exterior and give you more curb appeal in your neighborhood!

Step 1: Gather your cleaning supplies

Cleaning your garage door is very similar to cleaning your car. You’ll need a couple of basic supplies that you probably already have in your garage.

You can use the same supplies to wash your car and your garage door
  • Clean 3-5 gallon bucket: It’s good to have a specific bucket for washing your car and garage door. You don’t want to mix any other chemicals with your soapy water. It kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning the door.
  • Sponge, mitt or wet cloth: Although you can use a large sponge to apply the soap to the door, I prefer a washing mitt. You can pick up a microfiber, wool, or sheepskin wash mitt for between $5-$10, which will last for years.
  • Several clean, dry towels
  • Step ladder (optional)
  • Car wash soap or dish soap: Personally, I like car wash soap. Dish soap is designed to take “grease out of your way,” which isn’t necessary here. Spot-clean greasy areas (oil, WD-40, etc.) with mild detergent soap like Dawn.
    • Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash
    • Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash
  • Spray or liquid wax: Never use paste wax. My wife tried to use paste wax on our garage door, and the wax was drying and caking on before she could get to wipe it off. Most garage doors are textured, so spray wax will help get into the nooks and crannies of your door’s surface.
    • Meguiar’s Ultimate Quik Wax
    • Mothers California Gold Spray Wax
    • Griot’s Garage Spray-On Wax

Step 2: Pre-Rinse

Even though you’re not going to use a pressure washer, you still want to get all of the loose dust and dirt off the door before you soap it down. Most automotive soaps work best when applied to a wet surface.

If you skip this step and go straight to applying soap with a sponge or mitt, you may just push the dirt around the door and damage its finish.

Rinse off the door and the surrounding weather stripping and door trim with a medium-strength spray.

Use a gentle setting on your hose nozzle. The object here is to remove dirt and grime off your door’s surface and let the soap do its job.

Generously apply soap to your garage door using a wash mit or sponge

Step 3: Apply car-wash soap using a sponge or mitt

Apply the car wash soap with your sponge or washing mitt. Starting at one of the top corners, work your way across and down the door.

This is easy if your door is blocked into rows of squares like mine.

I started on the top left corner, working my way across that row before moving down and back across the next row.

Remember your Karate Kid training here. Circular motions (wax-on\wax-off) will be the most effective.

Step 4: Rinse off with your garden hose

Use the same nozzle setting you used previously.

You don’t need a powerful spray here. You’re just trying to get the soap off the door.

Now’s a good time to see if you missed any spots or if you’ve got any stubborn dirt or stains that need some extra attention.

Step 5: Wax and Dry

Depending on what spray wax you use, you may need to dry your garage door before you wax it. Some spray waxes can be applied when still wet, so check the instructions to be sure.

Grab a clean, dry cloth and your bottle of spray wax.

Use the same process as you did for applying soap. Start at one of the top corners and work your way across the door, before moving down a row and starting back the way you came.

Use circular motions with your cloth. This removes any excess wax and will help polish your garage door’s finish as well.

Washed and waxed garage door

Step 6: Clean your weather stripping

This is the step that almost everybody ignores…but not you, right?

The weatherstripping around your garage door provides a seal to keep out extreme weather and common garage bugs.

Use a general purpose cleaner and go over the weather stripping around the garage door’s edges, and the rubber seal on the bottom of the door.

While you’re cleaning, inspect for any cracks or tears.

If you find them, take care of them. Once the weather stripping is cracked, it needs to be fixed or replaced as soon as possible.

If giving your garage door a good cleaning doesn’t have the impact you wanted, it may be time to give it a fresh coat of paint.

I recommend checking out the next article in this series, where I discuss when you should paint your garage door

Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.