This is the best way to maintain, wash and restore garage doors according to experts

Maintain, wash and restore garage doors to give them the attention they need to stay in prime condition.

Exterior of modern two-car garage
(Image credit: Tom Merton via Getty Images)

Look after your garage door and not only will it stay looking good it will be with you a lot longer than a poorly maintained one. A well looked after garage door can easily last 20 years or more. So it makes sense to regularly clean, wash and check that everything is in order. 

Garage door replacement costs are not cheap and maintaining your current door will mean you won't have to think about them any time soon.  

Follow the expert tips and techniques in this guide and you won't need to replace your garage door any time soon, and you’ll be adding some very welcome curb appeal

Expert tips to maintain a garage door

Garage painted in Benjamin Moore Hale Navy paint

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Jon Russell, Director of Systems at Precision Garage Door Service suggests the following maintenance tips to help prolong its life and keep it operating at its optimum performance. And, it’s not difficult as you might think: 

  • Professional check - Get a pro to check your garage door each year—they'll catch any issues early.
  • Check hardware - Tighten up all bolts regularly to keep everything secure.
  • Test balance - Check that your door is properly balanced—a well-balanced door lasts longer.
  • Lubricate hardware - Lubricate moving parts with lithium grease to keep them running smoothly.
  • Clean sensors - Gently clean the photo eyes with a soft cloth to make sure your garage door operates safely.

Wesley Angel, the owner of Halo Garage Door Services offers a few more suggestions to help keep a garage door working and looking its best:  

  • New hardware - Replace broken or damaged hinges with new quality components.
  • Brush clean - Keep your door spider web and dust-free with regular brushing with a soft brush.
  • Change/Maintain parts - Replace missing screws and tighten all fasteners on a regular basis

Best ways to clean a garage door

concrete driveway with blue garage door

(Image credit: Jonathan Park/Alamy Stock Photo)

Metal and wooden garage doors need regular washing and cleaning to maintain their curb appeal and look like new. But as Wesley Angel reveals, there are subtle differences in the techniques needed to get the best finish: 

How to clean a metal garage door 

1. Dust the door: Dust with an extendable broom or duster. Start at the top and work your way down.

2. Wet with hose: Gently spray the garage door with a garden hose using a wide spray setting.

3. Wash with brush: Dip a soft-bristled brush into a watered-down degreaser solution. Start from the top and work your way down.

4. Rinse garage door: Thoroughly rinse the entire door with clean water and gentle setting from the garden hose.

5. Dry garage door: Use a sponge or microfiber towel to prevent water spots, by removing excess water. 

How to clean a wooden garage door 

1. Dust garage door: Dust with an extendable broom or duster. Start at the top and work your way down.

2. Get water and cleaner: Fill a bucket with warm water, add a small amount of mild dish soap or wood cleaner. 

3. Wash the door down: Dip a soft-bristled brush into a bucket and start from the top, working your way down. Avoid any aggressive scrubbing.

4. Rinse door: Rinse thoroughly, rinse the entire door with clean water and gentle setting from the garden hose. 

5. Wipe and dry: Use a sponge or microfiber towel to prevent water spots, by removing excess water.

What tools and detergents should I use? 

To clean a garage door you will need a few tools - that you will probably already have at home - and a cleaning product. Lance Clarke, owner of Elev8 Garage Door recommends a soft brush, sponge, water hose, bucket, towel for drying and a suitable detergent or mild soap like this Dawn Dish Soap Platinum Dishwashing Liquid from Amazon

How to restore a garage door

garage and exterior of suburban house

(Image credit: Alamy)

Restoring metal and wooden garage doors are two different jobs. Here we look at the techniques you need for both. 

How to deal with faded paint/oxidation on metal doors 

Faded paint on metal garage doors is a common problem on older doors, but it can be dealt with easily in most cases, as Jon Russell of Precision Garage Door Service explains: ‘For factory-painted steel doors, you can just apply a coat of regular car wax to restore the painted appearance. If your door is covered with latex paint, clean it gently, then apply a new coat of paint to revive its look.’

Angel suggests: ‘Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spritz the mixture on your metal door, and wipe away. Doing this regularly will keep grime from building up’

If a garage door is suffering from heavy oxidation - where the paint may be bubbling or peeling you need to take more drastic action. Lance Clarke recommends the following steps:

1. Prepare surface: Clean the door thoroughly to remove dirt, grease, and rust. Use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any loose paint or oxidation.

2. Add a primer: Apply a rust-inhibiting primer to the entire surface of the door to prevent further corrosion.

3. Paint door: Use a high-quality exterior paint formulated for metal surfaces. Apply multiple thin coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Be careful and avoid painting on the weather strips as this will stick to the door later especially in warm weather. One way to avoid this is to grease the interior of the weather striping.

4. Seal door: Finish with a clear sealant to protect the paint and provide additional weather resistance.

How to restore a wooden garage door 

Cracks, rotten timber, and peeling paint are common issues with wooden doors. Wesley Angel says, ‘Determine the severity of any cracks. If near a hinge or bottom bracket, you may need new sections/panels. Otherwise, fill the cracks with wood putty, let dry, and touch up with a matching paint.’

Jon Russel proposes, ‘If there's significant damage, especially at the bottom, you may need to have the bottom panel replaced or get a quote for a new door.’

If the garage door has been neglected and is in need of a full refurb, follow the steps recommended by Lance Clarke: 

1. Prep surface: Clean the door to remove dirt, mildew, and old paint. Sand the surface to smooth out any imperfections and remove loose or flaking paint.

2. Fill cracks: Fill any cracks or holes with wood filler, sanding smooth once dry.

3. Add wood primer: Apply a wood primer to the entire surface of the door to promote adhesion and prevent moisture penetration.

4. Apply paint: Use a high-quality exterior paint suitable for wood surfaces. Apply multiple thin coats, allowing each coat to dry completely.

General aftercare for garage doors

Urban Front craft beautiful bifold garage doors using natural hardwood - for a luxury but practical contemporary style statement. Parma design, double bi-fold. European oak w 5400mm x h 2400 on a white garage

(Image credit: Urban Front)

Once you restore a garage door back to its former self, you want to keep it in good condition. Lance Clarke recommends you:

  • Regularly clean the door to remove dirt and debris.
  • Inspect hardware and moving parts for signs of wear, and lubricate as needed.
  • Keep weather stripping in good condition to prevent drafts and maintain energy efficiency.
  • Plan regular inspections of the door for signs of wear or damage. Touch up any scratches or chips in the paint to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface.


Can I use bleach to clean a garage door?

The answer to this question is a big no. Lance Clarke says: ‘Avoid using bleach on garage doors, as it can damage the surface and finish.’

Wesley Angel reinforces the message, adding: ‘I would never use bleach, harsh, or abrasive cleaners to clean metal or wooden garage doors. They will deteriorate the wood or leave streaks in the finish. A mild degreaser or dish soap is preferable.’

Can I power wash a garage door? 

Power washing a garage door is not recommended if you want to keep the door in good order. The power of a pressure washer can cause dents in metal garage doors, damage the paint finish and water can get into electrical components. 

A standard garden hose like this NGreen Stainless Steel Garden Hose from Amazon will be able to provide enough power and pressure to clean a garage door. 

What is the best oil to use on a garage door? 

A silicone based spray like this WD-40 Specialist Silicone Lubricant with SMART STRAW from Amazon is considered a good choice for regular maintenance on garage doors. They can be used on hinges, runner wheels, locks and springs to ensure smooth operation.  

Alternatively, add Lithium grease and apply every 6-12 months to ensure smooth operation. Make sure to wipe away any old grease residue before applying the new.  

If you’re cleaning your garage door, take the time out to go one step further. Check out our The best way to clean garage floors and How to keep spiders out of the garage guides for expert tips and pointers. 

Steve Jenkins
DIY specialist

Steve has been a homes writer and editor for two decades, regularly contributing to brands like Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience transforming and renovating homes. He specializes in painting and decorating but has strong all-around building skills, having worked in the industry for ten years.