How to Clean Interior Doors Before Painting

How to Clean Interior Doors Before Painting? Essential Cleaning Tips!

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By Jason The Painter

How to Clean Interior Doors Before Painting?

We recommend using a mild detergent such as dish soap that will degrease the dirt and grime from the surface. A soft hand held brush cleaner to scrub gently, and then a microfiber towel to clean the residue.

You must be mindful about not damaging the current finish on the door. This means stay clear of very abrasive scrubbers or strong cleaning solutions like bleach.

Doors are usually painting with a semi-gloss finish, so you may be ready to use your after your clean without needing to paint it!

However, if the stains do not disappear, and you’re looking to re-coat the paint, you will need to apply primer to seal and cover the stains using a stain block primer. Once, the primer is dry (about an hour), you will be ready to apply a coat of new paint.

Cleaning interior doors before painting will remove dirt, grime, and grease as well create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. This results in a professional-looking finish!

Cleaning Supplies for Cleaning your Door

Before you begin cleaning your interior doors, it is important to gather all the necessary supplies.

Having everything on hand will make the process more efficient and allow you to complete the task smoothly.

Here are the essential supplies you will need:

  • Clean, lint-free cloths
  • Mild detergent or dish soap
  • Bucket or container for mixing cleaning solution
  • Warm water
  • Sponge or soft-bristle brush
  • Vacuum cleaner or dusting cloth
  • Painter’s tape (if painting doors)
  • Old newspaper or drop cloth to protect the floor
  • Microfiber cloth (for removing dust and lint)
  • Optional: TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleaner for tougher stains

Once you have gathered all the supplies mentioned above, you will be well-prepared to clean your interior doors effectively and prepare them for painting.

Preparing a Door for Cleaning

Here are some essential steps to prepare the doors for cleaning:

  1. Remove any hardware: *Not completely necessary if you’re trying to save time, but it will make a big different in making the cleaning process easier and prevent any damage to the hardware. You can also get masking paper and tape.
  2. Protect the surrounding areas: Cover the floor and nearby furniture with drop cloths or plastic sheets to avoid any accidental spills or splatters during the cleaning process.
  3. Dust the doors: Use a soft cloth or a feather duster to remove any loose dust and debris from the surface of the doors. Pay attention to the corners, edges, and grooves where dust tends to accumulate. This dust could blow back onto your door later.
  4. Check for stains and marks: Inspect the doors for any stains, marks, or stubborn dirt spots. These can be gently removed using a mild detergent or a specialized stain remover. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test on a small, inconspicuous area first.
  5. Prepare a cleaning solution: Depending on the type of material your doors are made of, prepare a suitable cleaning solution. For painted doors, a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap usually works well. For wooden doors, consider using a wood cleaner or a solution of vinegar and water.
  6. Apply the cleaning solution: Dip a clean sponge or a soft cloth into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the doors. Start from the top and work your way down, making sure to cover all areas including the edges and corners.
  7. Rinse and dry: After cleaning, rinse the doors with clean water to remove any residue from the cleaning solution. Wipe them dry using a clean, lint-free cloth.
  8. Inspect for remaining dirt: Once the doors are dry, inspect them closely for any remaining dirt, stains, or streaks. If necessary, repeat the cleaning process in specific areas until the doors are completely clean.
  9. Allow the doors to fully dry: Before proceeding with any painting or finishing, ensure that the doors are completely dry. This will prevent any moisture-related issues and ensure a smooth painting process.

By following these steps to prepare the doors for cleaning, you’ll have a clean and pristine surface ready for painting, or if the condition is acceptable, no painting at all.

Cleaning Techniques for Different Door Materials

When it comes to cleaning interior doors before painting, it’s important to consider the type of material your doors are made of. Different materials require different cleaning techniques to ensure a smooth and successful paint job. Here are some cleaning tips based on common door materials:

1. Wood doors

Wood doors are a popular choice for interior spaces due to their durability and timeless appeal. To clean wood doors before painting, start by removing any dust or debris using a soft cloth or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. Next, mix a solution of mild dish soap and warm water. Dip a clean cloth into the soapy water and gently scrub the door surface. Be careful not to saturate the wood with too much water, as this can cause warping. Rinse the cloth with clean water and wipe away any soap residue. Finally, allow the door to dry completely before applying primer or paint.

If you are cleaning wooden doors, and NOT painting. Be sure to use a wood cleaner.

This will clean your wooden door without damaging finish. * Affiliate link
Check Price

2. Metal doors

Metal doors are often used in commercial or industrial settings, but they can also be found in residential properties. To clean metal doors before painting, start by wiping down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or grime. For tougher stains or grease, you can use a mixture of mild detergent and water. Apply the solution to a sponge or soft brush and scrub the door gently. Rinse the door with clean water to remove any residue. Make sure to dry the door thoroughly to prevent rusting before proceeding with the painting process.

If you are NOT painting your metal door, use a metal specific cleaner.

Metal door cleaning solution. *Affiliate link
Check Price

3. Glass doors

Glass doors are a stylish and modern addition to many homes, but they require special care when it comes to cleaning. To clean glass doors before painting, start by using a glass cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water. Spray the cleaner onto the glass surface and wipe it down with a lint-free cloth or a newspaper. Avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch the glass. Pay attention to corners and edges where dirt and grime tend to accumulate. Once the glass is clean and dry, you can proceed with painting while taking care not to get any paint on the glass surface.

Remember, regardless of the door material, it’s essential to follow proper safety precautions such as wearing gloves and protective eyewear while cleaning. By using the appropriate cleaning techniques for your specific door material, you’ll ensure a clean and smooth surface for your paint job, ultimately resulting in a professional-looking finish.

If Painting your Door, Apply Bonding Primer

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is painting wooden doors with “regular” top coat paint, which is usually designed for walls, not wood.

To learn more about using Bonding Primer before painting your door, read this article:

How to Clean Interior Doors Before Painting

Remember to start by removing any hardware, vacuuming or dusting the door, and then using a mild detergent solution to wash away any remaining dirt. Afterward, make sure to rinse the door thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before proceeding with the painting process. By taking the time to clean your interior doors properly, you can ensure a successful and satisfying painting project.

What should I clean my door with before painting?

You should clean your door with a mixture of mild detergent and warm water before painting. For doors with tough stains or grease, a solution of TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) and water may be used[1%5E].

How do you prepare interior doors for painting?

Here are the steps to prepare interior doors for painting:

  1. Remove the door from its frame and remove any hardware.
  2. Clean the door with a mixture of mild detergent and warm water.
  3. Sand the door lightly to remove any glossy finish.
  4. Apply a primer, especially if you’re changing the color significantly or the door has stains[2%5E].

Do you need to clean doors before painting?

Yes, doors should be cleaned before painting. This process removes any dirt, dust, and grease that could interfere with the new paint adhering properly[1%5E].

How do you clean doors and trim before painting?

Doors and trim can be cleaned in a similar way:

  1. Use a damp rag with a mixture of mild detergent and warm water to wipe down the surface.
  2. For heavy stains or grease, a mixture of TSP and water can be used.
  3. Rinse the surfaces with clean water and allow them to dry completely before painting[3%5E].

What is the best solution to clean walls and doors with?

The best solution to clean walls and doors with is typically a mixture of mild detergent and warm water. For tougher stains, a mixture of TSP and water can be effective[1%5E].


  1. Preparing Wood for Painting – Preservation Brief 10
  2. How to Paint an Interior Door – WikiHow
  3. How to Paint Doors and Trim – The Spruce

Looking to clean the exterior of your house? You may be interested in our review of the 8 best residential grade pressure washers on Amazon.

We also rate Ryobi pressure washers.

1 thought on “How to Clean Interior Doors Before Painting? Essential Cleaning Tips!”

  1. Such an informative blog! One thing I would like to say that before starting painting we should keep our project dust-free by using a tack cloth. Everyone should follow the tips provided by you, it will make their work easier. Thank you for sharing! I will share it to all my friends and relatives. Keep Posting! Keep Sharing!


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