Homeowner Helpers: Maintaining your window screens

Homeowner HelpersMaintaining your window screens not only keeps your home looking spiffy and the bugs on the outside, it also ensures maximum ventilation during the summer, thereby reducing both your air conditioning costs and your energy footprint.

Unless you cleaned your screens before storing them last fall, you’ll need to do it before installing them this spring. You’ll need:

  • A soft bristle brush
  • A sponge
  • A pail
  • Warm water
  • Ammonia or dish detergent
  • A hose

When maintaining your screens, it’s easiest to do the cleaning on a flat surface. If you use the lawn or driveway, put a tarp or other impermeable material underneath the screen to keep dirt from splashing up.

  • Start by whisking away dust and cobwebs with a hand brush or even a large paintbrush, then rinse the entire screen with the hose to loosen dirt. When rinsing, use a soft spray to avoid damaging the screen.
  • Wearing gloves, mix one part ammonia to three parts warm water (a blob of dish detergent should be enough if you have no ammonia), then use your bristle brush in a gentle, circular motion on the screen. Clean both sides, not forgetting to do the frame as well.
  • Use the sponge to loosen any remaining dirt.
  • Rinse the entire screen thoroughly and stand it up so it dries completely before installing it.

Gently vacuuming your screens with a dust attachment once a week will reduce the need to wash them.

Repairing screens

Along with maintaining your screens, you may occasionally need to repair a small hole. A sewing needle and black thread will do the trick.

If the mesh needs replacing, it’s a fairly simple DIY project. You can get an entire roll of mesh at a big box store; however, that may be more than you need, so find a hardware store that repairs screens and ask if they’ll sell you just the amount of mesh you need. You’ll also need a length of spline (that’s the round rubber tubing that holds the mesh in place), a spline roller and a utility knife. Both the spline and roller are available at big box stores or wherever you get your mesh.


Remove the existing spline by prying it up in one corner with a sharp object like a nail punch and then remove the old mesh.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to install the new mesh following the instructions in this video:

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