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How to Clean a Steel Door: Top Maintenance Tips

Steel doors can last a lifetime but they need regular maintenance to stay in good shape. Learn more about how to clean a steel door effectively.

Keep your steel doors looking their best with the right cleaning routine

Your front door is not just the first thing guests see when they visit your home, it’s also a statement piece to reflect your style. At Clark Hall, we create custom steel doors, designed to your specifications and made using robust, long-lasting materials. All of our doors require very little maintenance, unlike wood doors that need regular sealing and touchups. However, we do recommend occasional cleaning to keep your doors in top condition.

In this article, we discuss the things you need to consider when cleaning your steel doors.

Why It’s Important to Clean Steel Doors

The regular cleaning of doors is often overlooked, but it’s an essential part of door maintenance. Below, are some important reasons to keep on top of door cleaning and maintenance:

  • Preserves aesthetic appeal. Doors can be both practical and attractive, adding curb appeal to your home as well as complimenting interior furnishings. Whether you choose to go with a traditional door or a more elaborate ornate door, if it’s well cared for, it can really boost the appearance of your home.
  • Increases life span. Our steel entry doors are built to last. However, they are prone to wear and tear as they age. So, it’s important to have a regular cleaning regime to remove dirt, pollen or fingerprints as well as keep an eye out for rust. Pay particular attention to any door hardware, like hinges and locks, when cleaning because dirt buildup can cause damage over time. Well-maintained doors can last for up to 30 years.
  • Maintains hygiene. Doors are one of the most highly touched surfaces in any home, office or other establishment. A lot of bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, but can live on surfaces for up to 2 hours and double every 20 minutes. So, your doors can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms if they aren’t regularly cleaned. 

Materials Needed for Cleaning Steel Doors

Fortunately, steel doors don’t require any specialized cleaning products. However, incorrect cleaning can potentially cause damage to door surfaces. Let’s look at the materials you need to effectively clean your steel doors:

  • Mild soap (liquid castile soap is a great option that can be purchased from most grocery stores)
  • Warm water
  • Microfiber wash cloth
  • A couple of additional soft clean cloths
  • Toothbrush 

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Steel Doors

Unlike factory-built products, each one of our doors and windows is bespoke to your specifications and can even add value to your home. A lot of time and love go into the creation of our products, so it makes sense that they would require some upkeep to keep them looking their best.

Below is a step by step guide to cleaning your steel doors:

1. Dust off any dirt and debris

The first thing you need to do is wipe any dirt, debris, dust and cobwebs off your door with a soft cloth in preparation for cleaning.

2. Make up the cleaning solution

Add a few drops of mild castile soap to a bucket of warm water and swirl the mixture until suds begin to form. Avoid liquid dish soaps like Ajax, ammonia-based cleaning products, or any other harsh chemicals because these can damage the protective coating on your doors.

3. Use mild soap and water to clean your doors

Dip a clean microfibre cloth into your soap mixture and wring it out until it’s just damp. Gently scrub your door in small circular motions, starting from the top and making your way down to the bottom. Feel free to take your time with this step, making sure you pay extra attention to any crevices, corners, and visibly stained areas. You can even use an old toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach areas.

4. Rinse away any soap residue

Grab another clean cloth and dip it in plain water. Use this to wipe the door again to remove the soap. You may need to replace the water if suds start to form. Continue until the door is clean and soap-free. This step is important because soap residue can cause a streaky appearance and even damage the steel if left to dry.

5. Thoroughly dry with a clean, dry cloth

With a dry, soft cloth, wipe excess water from the door until it’s dry to the touch. Pay particular attention to the hinges, locks and any grooves to prevent water spots.

Special Considerations for Different Steel Finishes

When it comes to cleaning, different materials and coatings require slightly different approaches. In this section, we run through the types of steel doors and the best way to clean them:

  • For polished steel doors. Applying a metal polish after cleaning your door will help to maintain its shine and add an extra protective layer. Apply a small amount to a microfibre cloth and rub it into your door’s surface until the streaks disappear.  
  • For stainless steel doors. Warm water and a mild detergent are usually enough to effectively clean stainless steel doors. Apply this solution with a cloth, sponge or soft brush in the direction of the grain. For extra shine, add white vinegar and water to a spray bottle in equal parts. Spray the stainless steel surface with the mixture and wipe it down with a microfibre cloth. This is an excellent way to remove fingerprints as well as grease and grime. 
  • For galvanized steel doors. Galvanized steel has a zinc coating that prevents corrosion and increases the lifespan of your door. To effectively clean galvanized metal doors, create a cleaning solution by adding a tablespoon of laundry detergent to a bucket of warm water and gently scrub your door. Avoid using any harsh household cleaners. A cleaner with a pH of 12 or more can dissolve the zinc in galvanized steel.

Common Issues When Cleaning Steel Doors

In general terms, cleaning your steel doors should be simple. However, sometimes you can come across a few pesky problems. In this section, we address the issues you might find when cleaning your doors and discuss effective solutions:

Dealing with Stubborn Stains

Stubborn stains can be removed by gently rubbing the area with a soft brush and a mild soap solution. Just make sure to dry the area afterward with a soft cloth.

Removing Rust

Rust can eat away at parts of your door over time, causing the structure to weaken. This not only causes irreparable damage, but allows air and moisture to leak into your home, significantly reducing energy efficiency. Fortunately, a regular wipe down with a mild soap solution and a soft cloth should work well to prevent rust on your steel door. However, if you notice larger areas of rust, sand the area down gently, then apply a primer and sealant before finishing with a touch-up paint. Contact the service department at Clark Hall for advice before performing any rust-removal process. We will be able to guide you on the best course of action to keep your door looking its best for as long as possible. 

Addressing Scratches

Scratches can be repaired with a touch up paint and protective sealant to prevent rust. At Clark Hall, we offer touch-up kits containing copper and acrylic paint that’s specifically formulated for your selected doors’ unique finish. It’s a good idea to gently sand the area so it seamlessly blends in with the rest of the door before applying the paint. 

Tips for Daily Maintenance of Steel Doors

Aside from occasional cleaning, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of performing small but regular maintenance tasks on your steel doors. These include:

Implement routine wiping — Wipe down your doors once a month or so to prevent dirt and dust buildup. You may need to do this more often if you live by the coast or in humid environments. We recommend you do a full wash of your doors at least twice a year, preferably in Spring and Fall to keep on top of pollen buildup. 

Avoid harmful cleaning chemicals — Harsh chemicals should be avoided at all costs because they can damage the protective coating on your door. As this coating fades, it leaves your steel door open to weather damage and rust.

Do regular inspections — Get into the habit of regularly checking your door for any scratches, weak spots, and damage so you can fix the problem before it gets worse. It’s important to seal up any scratches with a touch-up paint which can be requested for all your doors and windows from Clark Hall. 

Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule will help to retain the beauty of your steel doors and keep them in good shape for a long time. Don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation or for more tips on cleaning your custom Clark Hall doors.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use to clean a steel door? 

The best method to clean a steel door is by using a mixture of mild soap and warm water. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and gently wipe the door using small circular motions. Start at the top of the door so any dirt runs down to areas you haven’t cleaned yet. Avoid using any harsh chemicals because these can damage the protective layer on your steel door.

How do you get stains out of steel doors? 

For best results, use a mild cleaning solution such as liquid castile soap mixed with warm water and a soft cloth to clean stains off your steel doors. If this doesn’t work, try using a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution. Just be sure to avoid using any harsh household cleaners because these can damage the finish on your door. 

How do you clean oxidation off a metal door? 

Oxidization is caused by a chemical reaction that occurs on a metal surface when oxygen is present, leading to corrosion and rust. It’s essential to deal with rust as soon as it appears to prevent excess damage to your door. Rust can be removed from steel using white vinegar or a solution made of baking powder and water. You may also need to sand down the area to smooth the surface before treatment and sealing.

Can you pressure wash a metal door? 

It is not recommended to use a pressure washer on a metal door because this can cause damage. The force from a pressure washer can even strip the door finish and void any warranties.

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