Yeah, that's supposed to be white not grayish, dirt colored. And, while it is dirt colored, unfortunately, that is not dirt. It's mildew - yuck! (That reminds me of those little "yuck" stickers we had when we were little. You put them on household cleaners that would be poisonous if you drank them. Anyone else remember those stickers? I feel like I should stick one on that door.)
Our front door gets quite a beating. It has no protection, no little porch roof or portico, just hot, direct sunlight all afternoon and pounding rain on it every time it storms, which has been quite a lot recently. So all that lovely mildew has grown up on our door frame.
I've tried just cleaning it off with soap and water, but it comes right back. Since I didn't automatically know how to clean off mildew, I turned to the internet, of course. Luckily ehow knew just what to do.
And since I worked hard on cleaning it, I thought it was worthy of a blog post to tell you exactly how I did it.
To clean mildew off your exterior door and frame, you need these supplies:
Bleach, dish soap, vinegar and water
A hard, scrubbing brush
2 squirt bottles - Label one with "vinegar" and one with "bleach."
I used painter's tape to make my labels.
A hose with a multi-use kind of sprayer, gloves and a face mask
(I had gotten out a drop cloth thinking I would use it, but I didn't.
Just disregard that part of the picture.)
Got all your supplies?
Here's how you clean it...
1) Make up the following solution in your "bleach" squirt bottle - 1/4 cup of bleach, 1 tablespoon of dish soap and water to fill it up.
2) Next do your "vinegar" bottle - 1/4 cup vinegar and water to fill it up
3) Safety first! Put on those gloves and face mask. You are dealing with mildew (or mold) and don't want to inhale all those particles or to touch them with your hands.
Mildew beware! Here I come!
4) Start by spraying down your door with the hose. You'll want to use the mist setting for this so you don't spray those little mold or mildew spores into the air. I found it was easier to do this step and the following 2 steps in sections, such as right side of the door, left side of the door and top. If you don't, it's likely that the door or frame will dry before you get to all of it and you want it to be wet to do this.
5) Spray the door/frame section with the bleach solution. Take the brush and scrub. Get into all the cracks and crevices to make sure the mildew is completely gone. Then turn the hose to the strong stream setting and spray it all down. The mildew comes off pretty easily like this but it did take several times through this step to get it all off.
6) Once all the mildew is gone from a section, spray it down with the vinegar solution. Once again, use that brush to get into every nook and cranny of your door or frame. The vinegar gets off all the soap residue and just helps get it all squeaky clean. Use your gentle spray on the hose and rinse off all that vinegar.
7) After all your door/frame sections are nice and mildew-free, you can dry the door or frame with a towel and stick a fan in front of it to better dry it completely. For me, it was afternoon by the time I finished cleaning and the direct sunlight was doing its job. I had a lot of trouble keeping the door wet while I washed it, so I decided our door would dry just fine on its own and I could skip this step.
The final result:
Don't mind all those brown spots on the white door frame...
that's just all my paint peeling off because of the sunlight on it all the time. It's not dirt :).
Just as a little side note of warning: If you have peeling paint on your door frame, using a stiff brush will make it peel more. Also, if you are cleaning your door as well as your frame, test a small part of your door with the bleach solution and the brush before you clean all of it. I didn't do this and my door has more of the distressed look now.
But it's clean!