Keep the coughing to a minimum and June bugs at bay by cleaning your screens once a year. Dirty screens are a two-fold problem: they mess with air quality and are easily damaged. Rate the dirtiness of your screens on a scale from 1 to 4, with 4 being “it’s so dirty my view is ruined.” Then, choose your cleaning method!
Remove your screens. For best screen-cleaning results, remove your screens from the window before getting started. If you’re just trying to clean your screens quickly, and they aren’t too bad (think 1-2 on the dirt scale), it’s okay to leave them in the window. You won’t get every nook and cranny clean, but it’s better than doing nothing. If your screens are any dirtier than that, we definitely recommend removing them from the window. Otherwise, you won’t be able to remove the large chunks of dirt (plus it will make a big mess).
Dirt level: 1. If your screens are only a little dirty (and most of the dirt is loose) a lint brush is your new best friend! Roll over each screen on both sides two or three times to remove the loose dust. If this doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to take it to the next level.
Dirt level: 2. If your screens are covered in dust and loose dirt, a vacuum cleaner is the way to go. Only use your vacuum cleaner if it has a soft brush attachment. Otherwise, you could risk damaging your screens. Place the soft brush attachment on the vacuum’s hose and run it lightly against each screen. Don’t push too hard or you could tear the screen! Vacuum both sides of the screen until the dust and grime are gone.
Dirt level: 3. If you have dirt and caked-on grime all over your screens, they will need a little scrubbing to really get clean. Mix a solution of one tablespoon dish soap (you can substitute white vinegar for dish soap) with ½ gallon of lukewarm water. It’s best to do this outside to avoid making a mess. Tip: Wet your screens first with a garden hose. Then, dip a soft cloth in the solution and scrub both sides of the screens until the dirt and grime are removed. If your screens are fragile or thin, don’t push too hard! Rinse the soap away and let them dry completely before putting them back in the window.
Dirt level: 4. If your screens look like they’ve been marinating in a mud pile for a year, you’ll need an old toothbrush to dislodge all of the grime. Mix a solution of one tablespoon dish soap (again, vinegar works, too) with ½ gallon of lukewarm water, and start gently scrubbing your screens with the brush until the grime is lifted. Rinse the screens thoroughly and let them dry completely before you reinstall them.
Insect issues. If insects are sneaking through your screens, seal the holes on the bottom portion of your screen with clear nail polish. This should prevent insects from climbing through. This works for new screens and screens that have seen better days. For older screens, take a good look at the holes. If they seem larger than they were a year ago, it’s probably time to buy new screens. Note: If insects are dead-set on getting through your screens, this may not work because they’ll climb up the screen until they can fit through a hole. Instead, try some other pest prevention strategies.