Resilient, resistant, and beautiful to look at, aluminum is one of the best materials for window frames. But at some point, dirt, debris, and grime will make these hardy window frames look worse for wear.
And no matter how clean and pristine the window pane looks, your overall home will look unclean if the window frames stick out.
While cleaning window frames should be a normal part of your window maintenance, aluminum is a unique material that requires some considerations. You can’t just treat it like regular wood or PVC frames.
This article will show you the best ways to clean aluminum window frames. We’ll also share some of our expert tips to help you preserve the quality of your frames, ensuring they last the test of time.
How to clean aluminum window frames
1. Using a soapy water solution
This is often the most straightforward and effective way to clean aluminum window frames. All you need is warm water, a scrub, and regular dish soap.
Mix the warm water and ¼ cup of dish soap in a bucket until it bubbles. Dip the scrub into the bucket and lather a generous solution layer onto the entire window frame. Gently scrub the mixture into the frame, adding more pressure to areas with considerable dirt.
If the frame is outdoors, you can wash the residue away from the frame using a garden hose with a jet nozzle. If the frame is indoors, use a clean brush head and continue to wipe out the frothy mixture. Wipe and dry with a soft cloth, paying close attention to the sheen, and buffer the frame as you move.
Don’t be afraid to repeat this method several times, as the soapy water solution should not damage or harm the aluminum in any way. You can even apply more pressure and force when scrubbing to shift most, if not all, dirt.
2. Using acidic solutions
If you have an old, dirty, decayed aluminum window frame, do not throw it out and replace it just yet! Using acids like white vinegar solution or professional cleaning solvents can restore even the oldest-looking window frames.
As the above video from DIY Help suggests, you must lay down the protective tape to protect the glass pane and surrounding paint. Then apply regular household cleaner onto the aluminum, and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Use commercial solvents like wheel cleaner for particularly troublesome dirt and grime.
Use a screwdriver, wire brush, or razor blade to remove scuffs and dirt gently. You can add another layer of white vinegar to act as a polish to truly bring out the aluminum’s shine and polish.
3. Using lemon juice and baking soda
Another easy solution to help clean aluminum window frames is using generic home ingredients you’d typically find in your kitchen already. This method is ideal for use, particularly if your window frame has signs of rust or corrosion.
Combine 1 part baking soda with 2 parts of lemon juice to form a paste solution. Using a nylon scrub brush, apply the solution generously across the frame and allow it to dry. You can use smaller instruments like a toothbrush to get between joints at the corner of the window frame.
Once dry, you can use a damp sponge or garden hose to remove the paste from the window frame. Continue to rinse until the water runs clear from the window frame. Your aluminum should be shiny and polished-looking afterward.
Pat dry with a clean, dry cloth. Be careful to remove all paste during this time, as any residue left can lead to quicker oxidation (discoloration) of aluminum.
4. Using paint thinner and steel wool
This method is reserved for only the most challenging stains (such as paint, glue, or varnish) found on aluminum window frames. It requires using commercial solvents like paint thinner and an abrasive tool like steel wool, and wearing goggles and gloves throughout the entire cleaning process is essential.
As always, ensure your using solvents in a well-ventilated room before beginning, and read instructions carefully. Once you wash your window frames with soapy water and dry them, examine your window for any resistant dirt and marks.
Apply small amounts of paint thinner onto the frame using a paintbrush. Use fine steel wool to push the thinner deep into the ridges of the window frame. Paint thinner usually takes 20 minutes to work on marks; afterward, you can clean the window frame.
Like baking soda, you must clean your entire window frame of solvent material, as prolonged exposure can lead to discoloration and degradation.
How often should I clean aluminum window frames?
This answer ultimately depends on the condition and environment of your window frames. Frames exposed to more dirt, dust, wind, and water will, unfortunately, require more cleaning.
Regarding the frame specifically, you should aim to clean it at least twice a year. During these periods, inspect the frame for any signs of damage, including rot, warping, or structural damage. Pay particular attention to any sealing found around the window frame, ensuring that there isn’t any buildup of moisture, dampness, or overgrowth.
Why use aluminum window frames?
There are several advantages to using aluminum window frames instead of other materials.
One of the reasons why aluminum is an amazing window frame material is down to its longevity. It can easily last upwards of 30 years when cared for properly. It is a material that resists warping or rotting and is generally more resistant to force.
Aluminum can also help improve heat retention in your home, as many frames contain polyamide technology that allows heat gain and prevent heat loss.
Finally, aluminum is a relatively cheaper material to work with than wood or steel and is environmentally friendly. It is also highly flexible, meaning you can replace existing window frames relatively quickly, even if they have customized designs. And if you need to repair or replace part of your window frame, you can expect the task to be easy and cheap.
- Avoid outdoor sprinklers or drain pipes hanging over aluminum window frames. The increased water can have a detrimental effect on their cleanliness.
- Sometimes, it’s not just what cleaning products you use – but the force. Don’t be afraid to use soapy water and some elbow grease to shift dirty spots.
- When using chemicals, it’s a good idea to perform a test spray on a small part of the window frame to see how the material may react.
- If soapy water doesn’t shift all the dirt, you can consider adding a small amount of detergent or salt to strengthen the cleaner.
- When using solvents, ensure your workspace is well-ventilated and take frequent breaks.
- If your aluminum is badly scratched, scuffed, or dented, use an abrasive polisher like steel wool to polish marks away.
- When cleaning the window frame, you should also consider cleaning the window sill and other window treatments, like blinds and curtains. These can contain dirt and grime that dirty window frames quickly.
- When performing general maintenance to handles and hinges, apply to loosen accessories without causing structural damage.
- If using baking soda, ensure you thoroughly remove the cleaning solution. Prolonged exposure to soda on the aluminum can lead to quicker oxidation (discoloration).
Aluminum is a wonder material for window frames. Not only does it look clean and polished, but its makeup makes it hardy, resistant, and long-lasting. It resists rot and warping, common faults in rival wooden window frames.
But like any material, it is not invincible, and your aluminum window frames will be bogged down by dirt and debris at some point. And you will need a robust cleaning regime to restore them to their glistening potential.
As our article has shown, you can make some easy solutions that can help dissolve or dislodge even the most troubling of dirt. From lemon juice and baking soda solutions to soapy water and commercial cleaners, you can easily clean your frames with just a few short brush strokes.
As always, though, there are some safety precautions you should adhere to, especially when working with solvents.
If you still have questions about how to best clean your aluminum window frames or have tips and advice of your own, please share them in the comments below.
But if in doubt, remember:
- Aluminum frames can easily last 30+ years. It’s essential to take good care of them.
- A soap and water mixture and some elbow grease can be excellent for most cleanup jobs.
- When using commercial cleaners, apply a small amount to your window frame to test its effect. Some products can cause discoloration.