How To Clean Garage Door Windows?

Spring is in the air and with it comes new opportunities to clean and organize your home. If you’re like most people, your garage is a catch-all for whatever doesn’t have a specific place in your house. This spring, take the time to clean and organize your garage so you can actually use it for parking and storage – and make sure you know how to clean garage door windows so every inch of your home sparkles and shines! Here’s how to do it. 

How Do You Clean Garage Windows?

Are you looking for a quick guide on how to clean your garage windows? Here’s a helpful video tutorial in case you just aren’t feeling up to the full read:

Before you dive into the full clean, know that most garage door windows are made out of polycarbonate. 

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you clean these windows on a regular basis to ensure that the window material stays nice-looking and has the longest service life possible. Avoid using gritty cleaners or abrasive implements like hard brushes – this way, you can avoid scratching the surface coating. 

Do a General Cleaning

For a standard, run-of-the-mill garage door window cleaning, here are the steps to follow.

First, gather your materials. You’ll need a soft microfiber cloth or non-abrasive sponge along with a gentle soap or detergent. For the most part, you can use any kind of dishwashing or laundry detergent – options like Windex (ammonia-free options only) and Palmolive are good choices. In some cases, even vinegar will work.

If your garage door windows are relatively tall, you’ll also need a stepladder. 

Begin by rinsing the surface with warm water. This should loosen and wash away any grit, grime, or surface build-up.

Then, use your cloth or sponge to wash the surface with a mild detergent or diluted soap. Rinse again with clean water, then dry the entire surface with a dry soft cloth to prevent water spots. 

Remove Heavy Oil or Tar

If it’s heavy oil or tar you are worried about, again, follow the steps listed above to loosen up and wash away surface material.

Then, use a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water. Rub the area with your cloth, then immediately rinse with lukewarm water. Dry with a soft cloth and repeat if the oil or tar stains persist. 

Getting Rid of Graffiti, Paint, Ink, or Markers

These materials can be tough to get rid of when they’re on garage door windows – though certainly not impossible.

Again, start by pre-rinsing with water to get rid of surface grime. Then, use a material such as butyl cellosolve, isopropyl alcohol, or naphtha VM&P grade to dissolve the material. Rub with a non-abrasive cloth to work these materials into the window.

Whatever you do, don’t apply these cleaners under direct sunlight or when temperatures are extremely warm. This can cause the chemicals to break down and damage your windows.

After applying your chemical and using it to remove the stains, go ahead and rinse again with lukewarm clean water. Dry thoroughly. 

Getting Rid of Scratches on Polycarbonate Windows

Unfortunately, if you have any deep gouges or scratches (from things like razors, knives, screwdrivers, or keys), you’re probably not going to be able to get rid of them or reverse them with a deep clean. 

You may be able to minimize the appearance of these scratches by using a buffing compound along with a cleaning and polishing agent – but ultimately, you’re probably going to need to have the windows replaced if the scratches are severe or widespread.

Removing Adhesive Labels

Adhesive labels can be removed, again, with kerosene, naphtha VM&P, or isopropyl alcohol. In some cases, a product like Goo Gone can also be effective at getting rid of adhesive labels – however, you’ll want to check the specific instructions for your type of garage door windows to make sure they’re compatible and won’t be damaged by any of these options.

After applying your chemical to lift the adhesive or sticker, go ahead and rinse thoroughly with warm clean water. Dry thoroughly to prevent water spots. 

What to Avoid When Cleaning Garage Windows?

Cleaning Garage Windows

There are a few things you will want to avoid when cleaning your garage windows.

For one, you should never use abrasive cleaners or those that are high-alkaline (these have a high pH or contain ammonia, both of which can damage your garage windows). Try to only use cleaners that are approved by your window manufacturer to make sure you do an effective job and don’t void your warranty in the process. 

Do not allow your cleaners to remain on polycarbonate for long periods of time. Instead, wash them off immediately to avoid damage. 

When applying any kind of cleaner, don’t do it when it’s extremely hot or when the sun is direct and bright. As mentioned earlier, this can damage your garage door. 

A little bit of elbow grease is fine when it comes to getting rid of stubborn, stuck-on dirt and debris, but try to avoid rubbing or scrubbing too hard without first rinsing the surface. If you have any loose dirt particles on the polycarbonate, these can scratch the surface of the galaxy. 

If there are any dirt particles that you can’t rinse off first, you may want to try using a can of compressed air-  this can reduce the electrostatic charge build-up and make the window easier to clean.

Finally, don’t use razors, squeegees, or scrapers (or any other super sharp materials) on your windows. Again, these can scratch the glazing. 

How Do You Remove Garage Door Window Inserts?

Heavy cleaning jobs may require you to remove your garage door window inserts. While these can often be cleaned just as you clean the rest of your garage door window, sometimes, that’s not always the case. 

You may find that you need to remove these inserts and replace them simply because the sun has worn down on the plastic, with the ultraviolet rays causing it to become dried out, brittle, cracked, or faded.

The good news is that the inserts that are attached to the window are easy to remove – these are really only for aesthetic purposes and are meant to be replaced. It’s a simple matter of just popping out the old grid and replacing the new one. 

To do this, shut your garage door and look for any screws around the perimeter that serve to secure the insert to the inside of the window frame. There might just be one or two if the insert is on the narrow side.

Using a drill and driver, remove the screws. Then, insert the tip of a putty knife between the grid and the window on one side to extract the frame. Repeat on the opposite side. Move the knife as needed, alternating from top to bottom. 

You can then either clean the old insert, repair it, or put a new insert into the window entirely. Make sure you tighten the screws once you put them back in. 

Clean Garage Door Windows Regularly for the Best Results

You should clean your garage door windows every time you clean your garage doors – at least twice a year, in most cases, but more often if you live in an area that has heavy salt or snow exposure or if your garage doors have a tendency to get particularly grimy.

Cleaning your garage door windows may seem like a daunting task, but with these tips it can be easy and painless. By following these simple steps you will have sparkling clean windows in no time! 

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