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Cleaning Sliding Door Tracks (DIY Hacks)

Updated
Extend the life of your sliding door by cleaning its tracks with these tips.

Have you ever tried to open a sliding door only to find it’s stuck in place or is very difficult to open? That means you’ll need to learn how to clean sliding door tracks, as the problem is likely dirt buildup.

Cleaning sliding door tracks isn’t complicated, but I want to share a few best practices that will teach you how to maintain your sliding mechanisms in top shape.

How to Clean Sliding Door Tracks

First, vacuum the tracks. Then mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Spray the area and wipe clean. Sprinkle the area with baking soda. Let it sit, scrub it, then wipe it clean.


Why is My Sliding Door So Hard to Open?

Sliding doors are commonly seen in patio entrances, shower doors, windows, and sometimes even in living rooms or other rooms of the house.

They are space-saving solutions (since the open door doesn’t take up room space) and are often made from aluminum or some other type of metal.

Before you learn how to clean sliding door tracks, it’s important to know why your doors are hard to open in the first place. There are several reasons why your sliding doors will not open and close the way they used to.

The Tracks are Bent

When this happens, the sliding glass door is unable to move properly. Tracks that are bent inward will squeeze rollers and prevent doors from moving, whilst tracks that are bent outward may cause the door to derail.

While minor bends may frequently be repaired with pliers, more significant damage should be dealt with by a professional.

There’s Dirt in the Tracks

The most typical reasons for a stuck sliding patio door are that it is either clogged with debris or that the rollers need to be replaced.

The Rollers are Dirty

Rollers are the components located at the bottom of sliding doors that enable them to glide effortlessly down their tracks. If you are having difficulty opening and closing the door, it could be simply due to dirt on the rollers.

The Rollers are Rusted or Broken

While salty or humid air is unpleasant on sliding door rollers, restoring these components is fairly challenging. It necessitates the removal of both the sliding and stationary doors.

The Wheels Need Adjusting

If the rollers of a sliding door are not operational, chances are the door will slide off the track. The solution for this is to adjust the screws that hold the wheels in place.

How to Clean Sliding Door Tracks

There are several ways, and we’ll go over each one so you can choose the best method for you.

With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a very commonly used cleaning ingredient. Almost everyone has it in their home. I wanted to share some hacks on how to clean sliding glass door tracks using baking soda and vinegar.

What You’ll Need

  • White vinegar.
  • Water.
  • Baking soda.
  • Clean spray bottle.
  • Toothbrush or wire brush.
  • Paper towel or clean cloth.
  • Handheld vacuum.

1. Vacuum the Tracks

Open the door. Using a vacuum cleaner (handheld models are easier to operate in such a scenario), clean the tracks of dirt, debris, dust, pet hair, etc.

2. Make a Cleaning Solution

Take a clean spray bottle and add equal parts of water and vinegar. Shake the bottle to allow these two ingredients to mix.

3. Apply Baking Soda

With the doors open, sprinkle baking soda along the surface of the tracks. If there are any areas with a lot of dirt buildup, feel free to add more baking soda.

4. Apply Cleaning Solution

Take the bottle of cleaning solution you made during the second step and apply it all over the baking soda. The solution should start to fizz. Allow it to sit between five and 10 minutes.

5. Scrub the Tracks

Take your wire brush or toothbrush and start scraping the grime off the tracks. This helps remove dirt and grime. Make sure you scrub on both sides of the door.

6. Wipe the Tracks

Grab a clean towel or a rag and remove any excess dirt and grime. Add more vinegar solution to the tracks if you notice more dirt stains. Scrub until all the dirt has been removed from the tracks.

To Deep Clean Tracks

Cleaning tracks that are very dirty is a matter of putting in some extra elbow grease. Some steps are identical to baking soda track cleaning, but there are a few extra ones to undertake.

What You’ll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner.
  • Water.
  • Clean cup.
  • Non-abrasive cleaner.
  • Wire brush.
  • Vinegar.
  • Baking soda.
  • Toothbrush.

1. Remove Loose Debris

With the vacuum cleaner, thoroughly clean the tracks until all loose dirt, debris, and grime has been removed.

2. Create First Cleaning Solution

Take a clean cup filled with water and add a few drops of non-abrasive cleaner. Mix the solution. For the best results, use warm water.

3. Scrub the Tracks

Dip the wire brush in the cleaning solution and start scrubbing the tracks. You can use a toothbrush, but a wire brush is better because it covers a larger track area at once.

4. Wipe the Tracks

Grab a paper towel or a clean rag and wipe down the tracks.

5. Vacuum the Other Side

Close the doors and vacuum the tracks of the other doors. Scrub them as you did earlier. Wipe them clean to remove excess moisture and dirt.

6. Create Second Cleaning Solution

In a clean spray bottle, mix equal parts vinegar and water.

7. Clean Tracks with Baking Soda

As you did in the previous tutorial, apply baking soda on the tracks. Spray the vinegar solution and allow it to fizz for up to 10 minutes. Take the wire brush and toothbrush and start scrubbing the tracks once again, then wipe it clean when you’re done.

For Routine Maintenance

Stay on top of the cleaning throughout the year with this tutorial.

What You’ll Need

  • Butter knife.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Cloth.
  • Paper towels.
  • White vinegar.
  • Non-abrasive household cleaner.
  • Water.
  • Vacuum.
  • Clean spray bottle.

1. Vacuum the Tracks

Hand-pick all leaves. Next, sweep up any visible debris. Vacuuming first reduces the work necessary for the next steps.

2. Apply Cleaning Solution

Create a solution by mixing water and white vinegar in a clean spray bottle and spray it along the tracks. Use a dry cloth to clean the surface. Make sure that you’ve removed all moisture from the tracks.

3. Scrub the Grime

Take the toothbrush and scrub any grime that might be on the tracks to loosen any leftover debris. Put a paper towel in the track to soak the liquid entirely.

Take Note

Don’t use any abrasive cleaners on aluminum and metal surfaces. It will leave scratches.

4. Clean the Corners

To clean the jamb, use a butter knife wrapped in a cloth to reach difficult corners. This part should be easy if the previously-applied solution loosened all the dirt.

How to Lubricate a Sliding Glass Door

After your tracks are clean, you may want to apply some silicone-based lubricant. Opt for silicone over oil-based as oil tends to collect dirt more. This will ensure the doors open with ease. I recommend using WD-40’s Water Resistant Silicone Lubricant for the best results.

The process is easy:

  1. Spray the lubricant on the tracks.
  2. Wipe the tracks with a dry rag to remove excess.
  3. Locate the hole on the edge of the door.
  4. Put the straw attached to the lubricant in that hole and spray. This lubricates the wheels inside the door.
  5. Open and close the door a few ties to break it in.

Frequency Is Key

You should lubricate your tracks once every two months to make sure they are working smoothly.

How to Remove Rust From Sliding Door Tracks

Since most sliding doors are made from aluminum, they are prone to rust. This will happen when the doors aren’t cleaned regularly. As the rust builds up, your doors become sticky, and you won’t be able to open them.

To remove rust, grab some steel wool to scrub the rust. When you’re done scrubbing, grab a cloth to remove any loose or excess rust.

FAQs

If you’re still unsure, maybe these common questions will help ease your mind.

Can You Use WD-40 on Sliding Glass Door Tracks?

The WD-40 is a silicone-based lubricant that works really well on sliding glass door tracks. Because of its formula, it’s less likely to attract any dirt buildup.

How Do I Get My Patio Door Back on Track?

Remove your door off the track and reinstall it at the top and bottom of the frame. First, line the top rollers, then “walk” the bottom of the door into place, forcing the screen door onto the track.

How Do You Remove a Sliding Glass Door From Its Tracks?

Remove the threshold and unscrew the top, middle, and bottom brackets with a flat-head screwdriver. Lift the door up until it is clear of the tracks.


Conclusion

Once you know how to clean sliding glass door tracks, the process doesn’t seem all that complicated.

It’s important to remember that routine maintenance and cleaning will ensure a longer lifespan for your sliding doors. You will also be able to easily clean your sliding door tracks later on.

Headshot of Candace Osmond

About the Author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author and Award-Winning Interior Designer. Using her years of hands-on experience, she now writes about design and DIY. She currently resides on the rocky East Coast of Canada with her family and slobbery bulldog.