Door handles and knobs are some of the dirtiest surfaces in any house. The accumulated microbes on these surfaces are a health concern, of course, but the dirt can also ruin the aesthetic appeal of the doorknobs and handles.

Here’s how to clean your doorknobs and handles to get rid of dirt and germs:

  1. Identify the door handle/knob material.
  2. Use the right cleaning agents appropriate for the material.
  3. Clean with disinfectant wipes regularly.

The rest of the article will look at the various materials used in door handles and knobs, and the right cleaning material for each one. Remember, these tips can also work for any refrigerator, washing machine, and microwave doors.

1. Identify the Doorknob/Handle Material

Before you start cleaning your door handle or knob, you need to know the material you are dealing with first of all. A wooden handle, for example, can’t be treated in the same way as an aluminum variant. Here’s a quick look at the most common types of door handle/knob material you will find:

  • Brass: Brass is durable and resistant to corrosion. This makes it an excellent (albeit pricey) material for the making of door handles and knobs. Although the door handle will remain durable, you can ruin its design and appearance with the wrong cleaning agent.
  • Stainless Steel: Steel is the final product from iron, carbon, chromium, and other materials. It is highly durable, which makes it a common choice for door handles. However, it is important to ensure you have true stainless steel door handles or knobs, to avoid the high probability of rust and corrosion when using cleaning materials that would otherwise work perfectly for stainless steel.
  • Solid Timber: Used as a primary material for construction over the years, there is no denying the fact that solid timber is a durable material for a door handle or knob. Apart from the durability, timber’s neutrality means it is an excellent option in most home décor. The finishes typically applied on wooden knobs means they need to be cleaned carefully to avoid ruining the appearance too quickly.
  • Aluminum: The silvery-white appearance of aluminum makes it a great choice for door handles or knobs. They are generally the most resistant to factors such as using the wrong cleaning agents, but that doesn’t mean you should push the material to its limits.
  • Glass: Glass is fragile, but its elegant feel means some designer door handles are made of it. Cleaning glass handles and knobs should be straightforward on paper, but it is still easy to get it wrong.
  • MDF: Medium Density Fibreboard door handles and knobs are gradually becoming common in the market. The material is cost-efficient and durable, but it can reach its limits pretty quickly. This is why you need to ensure you are cleaning them with the right materials.

2. Use the Right Cleaning Agents Appropriate for the Material

Now that you know the different types of door handles and knobs, it is time to look at how to clean the door handles and knobs of different materials.

How to Clean Brass Door Handles/Knobs

Brass door handles and knobs come in a variety of finishes, including satin, polished, and tarnished finishes. This can determine the approach you take. However, the easiest way to clean most brass door handles is to add a small amount of dishwashing liquid in warm water and use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the handle. Once you’ve cleaned the surface well enough, use another cloth, wet with fresh water, to get rid of any soap residue.

At the end of the process, use a dry cloth to get rid of any water on the surface to make it shine. Avoid using dishwashing liquids that have salts to avoid tarnishing the brass.

If you have a door handle or knob that is made of tarnished brass originally, you can clean it by wiping with a cloth soaked in pure lemon juice or white vinegar. Rinse away the vinegar or lemon juice and dry the handle with a dry cloth.

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If you don’t have cleaning vinegar at home, you can buy popular options like the Bluewater 200 Grain or the Heinz Multi-Purpose Cleaning Vinegar. For lemon juice, Real Lemon is a good option to consider.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Door Handles/Knobs

You can clean stainless steel door handles and knobs with some soapy water and microfiber cloth. However, if you want to get rid of more difficult stains like grease, or water scaling, you’ll need to dip the cleaning cloth in commercial cleaning fluids instead. Rinse the handle thoroughly with fresh water and dry it off at the end of the process.

Don’t clean stainless steel door handles with a scouring powder paste or steel wool. This will leave scratches all over the surface of the steel.

How to Clean Solid Timber Door Handles/Knobs

Cleaning timber door handles and knobs is straightforward. Create a solution of vinegar and water and use a microfiber cloth to wipe the surfaces thoroughly. Use a dry cloth to get rid of any moisture.

If you have a really dirty stain on the handle or knob that can’t be cleaned with just water and vinegar, consider using some washing liquid diluted in water. However, don’t make it a regular occurrence to avoid ruining the finish on the wood.

How to Clean Aluminum Door Handles/Knobs

To clean aluminum door handles and knobs properly, you need to create a cleaning mix. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Get a small bowl.
  2. Add a tablespoon of vinegar, flour, and salt.
  3. Mix thoroughly.

Once the paste is ready, apply it to the door handles or knobs. Let the application sit for five to ten minutes, then wash it off thoroughly with water. Dry the handles with a cloth.

How to Clean MDF Door Knobs/Handles

To clean MDF door knobs and handles, you can repeat the process of cleaning timber handles. However, you need to take extra care of the wetness in the cloth you are using. You don’t want too much water on this material. Once you are done cleaning, wipe the handles or knobs dry immediately.

3. Clean With Disinfectant Wipes Regularly

If your door handles or knobs don’t have much dirt on them, using a disinfectant wipe is a good way to get rid of dirt and germs and keep them clean without going through an elaborate cleaning process. It is also a good alternative for cleaning door handle materials such as brass.

Brass door handles are known for their oligodynamic effect. This means that they can get rid of germs on their own after a few hours. Wiping down the doors and handles should be enough to clean them, so you’ll only use a deeper cleaning approach when absolutely necessary, such as for tough stains.

General Considerations

As you’ve seen above, a microfiber cloth is an important cleaning “tool” for door handles and knobs. If you don’t have some at home, you can consider buying popular options like this 12-Pack.

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Secondly, using scouring powder or any abrasive cleaning mixes is a good way to ruin the appearance of the door handle. The negative effect will be very visible on stainless steel or brass handles and knobs, but even wood and aluminum will also look worse off with such a cleaning approach.


Cleaning your door handles and knobs is a great way to keep the germs away and also ensure longevity for the overall appearance of your door. If your door handles or knobs look dirty and worn out, the door automatically loses its shine.

Make sure you are applying the right cleaning approaches relevant to the door handle or knob material, and avoid staining the door during the cleaning process.

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