Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Step-By-Step Cleaning Guide: For a Smooth Sliding Door, You Have to Clean the Tracks

how to clean sliding door tracks custom graphic

The way a sliding door moves so smoothly can be very satisfying no matter how many times you open or close the door! Unfortunately, that effortless glide can’t last forever. At some point, you’re going to feel a little bump, some resistance, or worse, find yourself pulling and pushing with all your might just to get the door to move! This, of course, happens when the sliding door tracks get dirty or clogged with debris.

Due to their constant exposure to outdoor elements, the accumulation of debris in the door tracks is inevitable. From dried leaves and twigs, to dirt and dead bugs; it can get pretty messy between the tracks, and rather quickly, depending on the weather. Therefore, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to slide your door from side to side. Waiting too long can also cause build up that can be impossible to remove, we find this to be especially true when conducting the dreaded end of lease clean.

So, if you haven’t already guessed, there is just one solution to fix this problem - learning how to clean sliding door tracks. 

Inspect the Sliding Door Tracks Before You Begin

inspect the sliding door tracks before you begin custom graphic

In order to prepare for the cleaning process, you need to know what you are dealing with. With that said, it’s worth checking whether your sliding doors are getting stuck due to dirt and debris, or because of a problem in the mechanism. Some instances of the latter include dents in the metal, loose nuts and bolts, or the wheels/rollers wearing out or becoming misaligned (due to jerking the door whilst trying to open/close it).

To check for any problems in the sliding door tracks, open the door fully, and check the space minutely before opening the other end and doing the same. If you can’t spot any issues (including dirt in the sliding tracks), it’s likely that they just need to be lubricated. 

With that out of the way, let’s get back to a plan of action for when the tracks simply need to be cleaned. Depending on the level of buildup present between each thin, metal frame, you can choose between a mild cleaning solution consisting of water and dish detergent, or one that is effective is scrubbing away tougher grime. For this, distilled white vinegar and baking soda are the perfect combination of ingredients to safely clean up stubborn dirt from sliding door tracks. Along with the cleaning agent(s), there are a few specific tools and materials required to get the job done.

Things You’ll Need for the Task

  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Dust Cloth or Sponge
  • Old Toothbrush or Narrow Cleaning Brush
  • Spray Bottle
  • Liquid Dish Soap or White Vinegar & Baking Soda
  • Small Towel
  • Lubricant

Instructions to Clean Sliding Door Tracks

Instructions to clean sliding door tracks custom graphic

Now that we’ve got all the crucial information mentioned above out of the way, let’s get to our rather simple and easy-to-follow step-to-step guide on how to clean sliding door tracks for a super smooth result!

Step 1: Vacuum the Tracks

You can use a regular or handheld vacuum cleaner for this; just make sure that it has a narrow nozzle or crevice tool to suck out debris from the tracks. If you can’t reach tight spaces or nooks and crannies, use a brush to dislodge dirt and continue vacuuming. Don’t forget to clean up loose debris from either side of the tracks to prevent it from getting into the space later on. After vacuuming the entire sliding door tracks, move the door from one side to the other, and back again. This will push out any debris that is stuck underneath the wheels/rollers which can then be vacuumed up one final time.

Step 2: Clean With Soapy Solution First

Mix a teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 2 cups of water. Dip the sponge or cleaning cloth in the solution, and wipe down the door tracks thoroughly. You may need to rinse the cleaning tool as it picks up dirt or use a fresh one altogether. Once the inside of the door tracks are cleaned, wipe the adjacent area to remove dirt and dust. Leave the tracks to air dry completely before testing whether the door is closing smoothly. For sliding door tracks that are cleaned and maintained regularly, this will likely be the end of the cleaning process. However, if a deep clean is required, move on to the following steps.

Step 3: Clean Deeper With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Sometimes, soapy water isn’t enough to cut through tough grime that has built up over a long period of time. That’s where baking soda and white vinegar come in. Start by sprinkling the powder over the tracks, paying close attention to visible stubborn spots. Pour some vinegar into a spray bottle, and an equal amount of water; close the bottle and shake well. Mist-spray the tracks and allow the ingredients to react for a few minutes. The combination of baking soda and vinegar can break down dirt and grime, thereby making it easier to remove.

Step 4: Scrub the Tracks

Now that the grime has been loosened, take the toothbrush or cleaning brush and scrub the sliding door tracks from one end to the other. Get the bristles into the crevices for a truly thorough deep clean. It’s important to scrub away all remnants of stuck-on debris as even a few stubborn spots can affect the smoothness when sliding the door.

Step 5: Rinse and Wipe Dry

Using regular water from your faucet (preferably cold or room temperature), rinse off the cleaning agents and scrubbed dirt. Give the door tracks at least 2-3 rinses to ensure everything is washed away. Next, soak up as much water as possible with a towel before leaving the tracks to air dry.

Step 6: Finish Off With a Lubricant

To keep your sliding door rolling smoothly for longer, a lubricant helps a great deal. The type of product you need to purchase will depend on the material of the tracks and door. This can be determined by checking with the manufacturer of the door, or an experienced contractor. After seeking professional advice, go ahead and purchase the recommended product, and follow the instructions on the bottle for the correct application.

Sooner or later, dirt and debris is going to accumulate in your sliding door tracks and make it difficult and frustrating to open and close the door. Cleaning the tracks regularly can eliminate the need for a deep clean, however, if needed, it is a fairly simple process that uses baking soda and white vinegar to cut through stubborn dirt. With the step-by-step cleaning guide above, it won’t be longer than an hour or two before you can enjoy the satisfaction of a smooth sliding door once again!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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