How to Clean Metal Roll Up and Swing Doors

In order to keep your metal roll up doors functioning properly and looking their best, it’s important to clean them regularly. As dirt and residue build up on the curtain of your roll up door, it can damage the protective coating and accelerate corrosion. To prevent this, give your roll up doors a light cleaning on a yearly basis. Learn more about how to clean a metal roll up door below. 

Before Getting Started

Check your manufacturer’s recommendations before cleaning your roll up or swing door. Some cleaning solutions and techniques can degrade the curtain and compromise the finish. This can negatively affect the visual appearance of your door and potentially void the warranty. 

First, make sure you have the right cleaning materials and tools. You will need a broom or a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt or dust, dried mud and debris. You’ll also need a soft sponge, soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth to wash the steel curtain. Although it may sound tedious, the best way to wash your roll up door is by hand as most doors aren’t equipped with a seal to keep water out. Using a pressure washer or a garden hose spray nozzle can apply too much pressure, allowing water to enter the building. This could cause serious damage to anything stored within the structure including your belongings, your tenants’ belongings or your company’s  inventory. 

Avoid using products and tools that could scrape or scratch the paint coating on your steel roll up door curtain. This could wear down the finish and leave the curtain vulnerable to corrosion. Some of the tools and products you should avoid include wire brushes, abrasives, steel wool and sandpaper

Using the right tools during cleaning will keep your door operating smoothly for years to come. 

How to Clean Your Metal Roll Up or Swing Door

The cleaning solutions and techniques you should use depend on the toughness of the cleaning job you have to tackle. There are a variety of contaminants that you may need to remove from the surface of your door including: 

  • Airborne Dirt can collect on the building along with other organic residues that can’t be washed off by rainwater. 
  • Chalk is a natural white by-product of the UV degradation of the paint system. This happens over a period of several years and can make colors appear lighter and reduce the paint’s gloss. 
  • Mildew appears on surfaces that retain moisture for extended periods. 
  • Rust Stains may be caused by unknown debris. Make sure to remove the source of the rust stain prior to cleaning.  

Light Cleaning

For light cleaning, a simple solution of water and mild detergent will usually get the job done. Use a soft-bristled brush on a pole or a microfiber towel to scrub the door curtain from side to side. Be sure to rinse completely and avoid letting the soap dry on the surface of the door. For tough stains, oxidation or chalking, consider using a non-scratch scrubbing pad. This type of cleaning should be performed on a yearly basis to maintain the look and functionality of your roll up doors. 

Moderate Cleaning

For dirt and debris that are tough to remove, you can use a solution of water and phosphate-free detergent. The solution should be 95 percent water with 5 percent commercial laundry or dish detergent. Make sure to dilute the strength of the detergent so it doesn’t degrade the paint coating on your metal roll up door. Gently wipe away the dirt and grime, then rinse completely so no detergent is left on the door curtain. 

Some common acceptable cleaners include: 

  • Mild laundry detergent 
  • Mild dish soap 
  • Car wash soap 
  • Commercial/industrial detergents 

Some mildew won’t come off even with the use of strong detergents. In these situations, household bleach can be used.

Deep Cleaning

For tougher to clean substances such as tar, grease, oil and various adhesives you’ll need a different cleaning solution. These substances are non-water-soluble, so you may need to use a solvent or alcohol-based cleaning solution. Apply your cleaning solution of choice to a non-scratch scrubbing pad. These substances should be used sparingly and should only be applied to the affected area.  Make sure to test the paint first to determine whether the solvent will cause damage. This type of cleaning should be done every 3-5 years to preserve the longevity of your roll up door. 

Some common cleaners include:

Alcohol-Based Solvents – Least aggressive solvents 

  • Denatured alcohol (ethanol) 
  • Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol)
  • Methanol (wood alcohol) 

Note: Methanol is toxic  

Petroleum Solvents – These are chlorinated and moderately aggressive

  • VM&P Naptha
  • Mineral spirits 
  • Kerosene
  • Turpentine (wood or gum spirits)

Many of these cleaners are toxic and/or flammable so handle them with care. Keep them away from flames, use adequate ventilation and wear protective clothing. 

Overall, the key to maintaining the look and functionality of your roll up door is properly maintaining them with annual cleanings. To learn more about cleaning your roll up doors, contact your local DBCI representative