No matter how much you clean your home, you probably forget one thing — your wood doors. Doors are some of the dirtiest surfaces in your home, and they deserve attention. However, wood can be difficult to clean.

To clean wood doors, you should remove dust, wipe with a damp towel, clean with soapy water or a specific solution, and then dry the door off with a clean towel.

To polish wood doors, you should first clean the door, then test the polish on a small spot, apply a thin layer of polish to the entire door, rub it in with a clean towel, and apply additional layers if needed.

Of course, there’s more to the process, and if you want to learn the specifics, some nifty recipes for cleaning solutions, as well as some maintenance tips, read on.

How to Clean Wood Doors

Cleaning doors isn’t that hard, but it does take some special care, especially if you want to keep your doors safe from the influence of chemicals and scratches. Here’s how to clean wood doors:

  1. Clean the Dust: Get a duster, and then thoroughly remove the dust from your door. All of the dust should be gone — don’t forget the handles and hinges. The top of the door should be cleaned too. Make sure that you cover every nook and cranny because you don’t want dust rearing its ugly head when you start washing the door with a solution.
  2. Wipe with a Damp Cloth: Once everything is dust-free, you can move on to cleaning with a damp towel. This will get rid of any extra particles and anything easy to take off the door.
  3. Apply a Solution: You should either have some soapy water or a cleaning spray. Both work well, so choose what you like best and use most often. Be gentle, and do your best not to scratch the wood.
  4. Dry the Door: After you’ve applied a cleaning solution, you should quickly dry your door, so none of the water soaks in.

If you want to continue, you can polish your door — find directions below — or treat your door with some other solution. For example, you may want to use varnish or wax. In this case, you need to know which type of wood you have so that you can get an appropriate solution that won’t ruin your doors.

Test these solutions on small patches, somewhere far from sight on the door, so that you know how your door will react. Furthermore, you should apply thin layers over each other, no matter what you use, to avoid any dripping or marks on the door.

Remember to give your handles, hinges, and other metal, glass, or brass parts a good scrub too. Finish them off with a glass cleaning solution to make them shine.

Cleaning Internal Wood Doors

For cleaning internal doors, follow the same procedure as for external doors. However, internal doors are often plagued with stains, especially if you have children. The stains can range from greasy to dye or marker stains, so you need something that can handle that.

  • Dye stains. These are best cleaned with a baking soda solution. Mix it with lemon juice or vinegar and rub it on the stain with your fingers or a sponge. After you’re done, rinse it with water. If the stain doesn’t go away, you should repeat the process or add a bit more vinegar.
  • Stains that are not greasy. These stains are easily handled with some water and detergent.
  • Greasy stains. These stains should be cleaned with a bit of ammonia mixed with cold water. Don’t apply it directly to wood, but rather put it on a cleaning towel and then rub on the stain.
  • Marker stains. Isopropyl alcohol works best on these stains, but you can also try toothpaste. Again, first put a bit on a towel and then rub on a stain. Then, clean with water.

Be careful with these solutions, and always test some on a smaller area of your doors, just to check if the solution affects the door in a negative way. If it does, try something else.

Cleaning White Painted Wood Doors

Many people paint their internal or external wood doors white because it adds to the charm of a house, and it makes it more unique, especially against darker paint. However, they can also be quite troubling to clean.

For one, you risk ruining the paint job if you do it poorly. This is why it’s best to clean white doors with a water and soap solution with a soft material like a sponge (without the rough side) or a gentle towel. This way, you won’t chip the paint off.

Microfiber cloths are also an excellent option for white doors as they will remove dirt easily. Plus, they are gentle and won’t scratch your door. Chemicals are not an option here, especially those harsher ones, so stay away from them.

Homemade Wood Door Cleaning Recipes

Aside from specialized cleaners that you can get at any store, you can also make some at home. This is especially convenient when you don’t have any commercial cleaning solutions at home, and you don’t want to go to the store.

In addition to being natural, they are also inexpensive, don’t contain chemicals that can evaporate into harsh fumes, and they are easy and safe to dispose of.

Here are three recipes that can help you clean your doors completely.

Homemade Door Cleaner

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups (1l) of water
  • Some detergent or soap
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) of baking soda

How To Make:

Boil 4 cups of tap water and let it cool just a bit before adding baking soda and soap. Then, mix all of these ingredients and pour in a spray bottle. Spray your door and rub it with a clean towel.

Recipe for Cleaning Glass

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups (1l) of water
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) soap or detergent
  • 6 tablespoons (90g) of vinegar

How To Make:

All you have to do is mix them all together and pour in a spray bottle.

Brass Cleaner

You’ll need:

  • Half a cup (100g) of vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) salt

How To Make:

Just mix these two ingredients and then dab the liquid on a sponge. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes before scrubbing any brass or metal elements on your doors.

How to Polish Wood Doors

Before you start polishing your wood doors, you should make sure that you have the right solution for this. You can purchase some at the store, try a homemade product, or get a versatile polish.

More advanced techniques would include tools like varnish, lacquers, tung oil, etc. However, if you want something simpler, with less toxic fumes, there are options that will make your door shine.

One important thing to remember is not to use food oils for this purpose. It’s often recommended online as a crafty and simple solution. But while the food oils will give your doors instant shine, they will spoil and start emitting a gross smell. So, ignore those recommendations and use a polish that’s actually meant for your door.

This is especially true for external doors — imagine leaving a food oil out in the sun.

Also, work in an area where there’s enough air circulation. You don’t want to be stuck in the toxic fumes. You shouldn’t leave flammable solutions out in the sun either. It’s the safest to use the polish while wearing a mask.

After you’re done cleaning the doors, you should test the polish on a small area to see how the wood will react with it. If there’s nothing significant happening, you can move on to cleaning.

If you have wax on your door, use a wax remover first. Then, once the door is dry as well, you should apply the polish. Thin layers are the best because there will be no pooling of the polish, and it will have enough time to absorb into the door. Rub the polish in with a clean rug.

You should apply the layers and rub along the grain, so the polish completely gets in. One layer may be enough for you, but you may also want several layers, so apply until you are satisfied with the look and the shine.

Remember all of those nooks and crannies that you can’t easily spot, but that is just as important.

You can repeat the polishing whenever necessary. It can become a routine or just something you include in your spring cleaning. Avoid using silicone-based polish as it doesn’t do much for your door, except make it more brittle. After using this, you won’t be able to use any lacquers or anything similar.

If you have any scratches on your door, you should use pigmented wax to hide those scratches. If you don’t have any scratches, you can use clear wax. However, be careful and don’t use too much. It will look really bad. Use just enough and analyze as you go. One coat and buffing afterward will probably do.

Homemade Wood Polish Recipe

Natural products are often best since wood is a natural material. But if you don’t know any wood polish recipes, why not try this one?

You’ll need:

  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Lemon essential oil (10 drops)
  • 2 cups (500g) vinegar
  • ¼ cup (50g) olive oil

Squeeze the lemon juice out into your bottle or in a container. Add the olive oil and vinegar, then ten drops of lemon essential oil. Then shake the bottle or mix in a bowl.

This mixture should be sprayed on a cloth (microfiber is the best option) and then rub in your doors using circular moves. Your door will be not only clean, but also shiny, and your home will smell great.

Note that olive oil is used in this case, but the biggest difference between this and just using olive oil is in the other ingredients, which will prevent the mentioned effects.

How to Restore Wood Doors

While cleaning your doors, you may notice that they need some extra care to shine again. This extra care can come in the form of quick restoration. Your doors will go back to their former glory.

Here are the steps you need to take to restore your wood doors:

  1. Remove hinges: Unscrew your hinges and any other parts. Other materials don’t need to be restored, but you can wash them separately in a soapy solution. However, the door is the star of this restoration, so you should keep only the wooden parts. Keep all the parts in a safe place, so you don’t use them.
  2. Clean the door: Use the procedure already covered above to clean your doors. Make sure that the cleaning solution you are using doesn’t damage the wood. Also, remember to dry the door before moving on.
  3. Sand the door: You should do some light sanding. Do this slowly and gently. You want to make the door smooth, remove all the bumps or scratches, as well as caked dirt. Weather can seriously affect the doors, so make sure that you cover all of this. After you sand the door, you should clean the dust and wipe the door again with a dry cloth. Even if you decide to chemically remove the finish, you should still sand a bit.
  4. Apply the finish: Once all of this is done, you should apply a finish of your choosing, whether it’s the one you had before or a completely new one. You can use the dust from your sanding process and mix it with epoxy to fill in the gaps, breaks, or scratches. Apply an even, consistent coat of finish.

You can repeat the restoration as necessary. For example, if your door is more exposed and faces a lot of sunshine, you should sand it every three years. Doors facing north that have protection from the weather will likely need restoring less often. To protect your doors even further, apply a UV inhibitor.

In general, you’ll know when your doors need a bit of a refinish when you see that they look bad. Don’t do it too often, either.

Door Maintenance Tips

If you want to extend the beautiful effect you will get from cleaning and polishing your doors, you can do it by maintaining your door.

Moisture affects the wood the most, so you should create a small cover for them, just so they don’t get directly wet. That is if you don’t have one. If you do, you’ve avoided a big portion of common problems.

A good sign that your doors are damaged and need some care are cracking, raised grain, dark streaks, bubbles, etc. In this case, you should perform the restoration process covered in detail above and apply a new finish.

However, if you just want to keep your door clean for longer, you should pay more attention to them. If water or something similar splashes on the door, clean them in detail and dry them off after cleaning. This happens commonly in both interior and exterior doors.

Seasons also bring a lot of their own debris. You should clear any of it before it accumulates. All of this can make your door look dusty and dirty. So, sweep up often. If you see that anything on your door isn’t working properly, check why and repair it as quickly as possible.

If you live near the sea, wooden doors may not be the best option because of the saltwater. Extreme weather is also not great for wood. Try to find a material that works in these cases. However, you can give your door even more protection if you install a small porch. This way, neither rain nor sun will get to it that easily.

Clean them every once in a while to prevent big stains and add a new polish whenever your door seems to have lost its shine. Don’t forget the doorknobs, handles, and hinges. Maybe all that your door needs are new doorknobs to look even better.

You can maintain the aesthetic part as well by cleaning cobwebs every week and any dirt or bugs there. Keep the area around your front door clean too — remove any toys or similar objects which often gather in these areas. This will make it look neater.

Furthermore, if you have any glass, brass, or metal parts, make sure that you clean them too. With glass, it should be more often than the doors because they get dirty more often.


You probably won’t have to clean your doors that often, but giving them a fresh look once in a while will make your home look amazing. Remember to use the right cleaning solutions for the wood you have and to be gentle in order to avoid any scratches.

Keep in mind that maintenance can help your door look great for much longer. Whenever there’s a stain on your door, get it out as soon as it gets there. Proactiveness when it comes to the look of your door will make all the difference.

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