3 tips for cleaning and repairing a door screen

Insect screens are magnets for surface gunk. But it's easy to clean them if you first hose them off and then use the right cleaning solution. Here are three tips for cleaning a window or door screen.

3 tips for cleaning and repairing a door screen

1. Cleaning

  • Take them down. Remove the screens from doors and windows, and lay them on the driveway or other flat, protected outdoor surface, preferably with a drop cloth or tarp underneath.
  • Make your own cleaning solution. In a bucket, mix up a cleaning solution of three litres (three quarts) warm water, one litre (one quart) ammonia, 1/4 cup of borax, and two good squirts of dishwashing liquid.
  • Hose, spray, and wait. Wearing rubber gloves, fill a spray bottle with the solution, and after rinsing screens thoroughly with a garden hose, treat both sides with the cleaner. Wait five minutes for the cleaning solution to loosen grime, and follow up by gently scrubbing with a soft-bristle brush. Rinse again.
  • Dry them standing up. Prop the screens vertically and let them air-dry.

2. Prepping

  • Prepare screens for the off-season by wrapping them for storage after cleaning. Plastic sheeting, ink-free newsprint and brown wrapping paper are all great options.
  • Once a year, wipe a screen or storm door's closer — the mechanism that pulls it shut gently — with a lightly oiled cloth. Snug up any loose screws in the closer bracket by replacing them with wider ones.
  • Along the bottom edge of a storm window's frame, you'll find small vents called weep holes. They allow trapped moisture to escape, and they need to be kept clear to do their job efficiently. Clean weep holes before the onset of winter using a pipe cleaner or toothpick. If you don't, the trapped moisture will damage the window.

3, Repairing

  • The location and extent of the damage are the key factors when deciding whether to patch a screen or replace it. If the area is small and well away from the frame's edges, a patch or even a dab of nail polish will suffice, but a larger rip, especially near an edge, calls for replacement. In either case, tend to the tear immediately to prevent bigger problems.
  • Mend a small hole in screening with an application of clear nail polish. Prepare the area by straightening the torn strand ends, then dab on the polish and spread with the bottle-cap brush. Before the polish is completely dry, use a toothpick or pin to pierce clogged openings in the surrounding area. You can also do the same trick with epoxy glue; apply it with a cotton swab.
  • Repair an aluminum screen with a patch of the same material. Neatly trim the damaged area and cut a patch slightly larger all around than the hole. Remove a few strands from all four sides of the patch and bend the exposed ends 90 degrees. Then carefully push the ends through the screen around the hole and press the ends flat against the other side to secure them.
  • Cut a patch of scrap fibreglass screening slightly larger all around than the hole. Apply a thin bead of epoxy around the patch and glue it over the hole, aligning the pattern. Smooth and blot off excess glue before it dries.
  • Taking the droop out of a wooden screen door is simple with a door brace and turnbuckle kit from your local hardware stores. Install the brace diagonally across the door, with one end at the top, hinge-side corner and the other at the bottom, latch-side corner. Tighten the turnbuckle until the sag is gone.
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