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How to Clean Your Motorized Screens (Retractable Screens)

Our customers love motorized screens. What’s not to love about retractable screens for windows and patio enclosures you can lower with the push of a button?

Yes, they’re wonderful … but how do you clean them?

Note: You may be reading this at a time when we cannot immediately fulfill orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read the community update on our home page for info. If you’re reading this after the crisis has passed, please let us know and we’ll take this message down!

Most people know how to clean regular screens. You just remove them and take them out to the driveway, where you scrub and hose them down.


  • Motorized screens aren’t fully removable for cleaning,
  • And they’re on a track that needs maintenance to remain functional.

That can give homeowners and business owners a little anxiety.

Don’t worry! This is easier than you think. Read on to learn how to clean and maintain your motorized screens (or retractable screens).


First Off, What Are Motorized Screens?

In case you’re not sure exactly what we’re talking about, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.


Screens are any permeable, usually vertical surface. They are made of some type of mesh that air and some amount of light passes through. They are usually installed as part of a doorway or window system (inside or outside the windows), or as a porch or patio enclosure. Their purpose can be to filter out harmful UV rays (solar screens) or insects (insect screens).

Retractable Screens

Unlike a standard frame you either remove or slide up in the window frame to open, retractable screens can be hidden inside a housing when not in use. Ours typically retract upward into an overhead housing, though screens can also be retracted horizontally (e.g. in doorways).

Motorized Screens

When the retraction is motorized, all you have to do is push a button on a wired panel or remote control to retract or lower the screen. Motorized screens are incredibly convenient to operate …

But if you’re used to simply pulling screens out to clean them, and you have new motorized screens or you’re looking into having them installed, it’s natural to wonder: What do you do when it’s time to clean and perform basic maintenance on your motorized screens?


Cleaning the Screen

You don’t have to fully remove your motorized screens to clean them. All it takes is gently removing the flexible screen from the track - but not from the overhead housing - and in some cases laying down towels if water is needed.

To clean your motorized screen, follow these simple steps:

  1. Fully lower the screen.
  2. Lower and clean taking care not to put to much pressure as to force the screen out of the track.
  3. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove accumulated dust.
  4. If it’s an outdoor screen and you have an exhaust setting on the vacuum, use it to blow off any debris.
  5. If the screen has accumulated grease or grime from spills or touching, clean your screen just like you would a canvas awning:
    - Lay down towels.
    - Fill a small bucket with soapy water.
    - Use a soft bristle brush and gently scrub affected areas.
    - Wipe off with a cloth wetted with water only.
    - Let the screen fully dry.
  6. Return the screen to the tracks.

Maintaining the Tracks

While your main concern is keeping the screen looking great, you also need to occasionally make sure it continues to work great. That means keeping the track the screen relies on to smoothly lower and retract clean and clear of debris.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Fully retract the screen.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to clear the tracks of dust and debris.
  3. Lay down towels.
  4. Fill a small bucket with water mixed with a gentle dish detergent.
  5. Wet a soft cloth or sponge and wipe the tracks clean of greasy deposits.
  6. Use a dry cloth to dry off the tracks.
  7. Spray the tracks with a dry silicone spray.


How Often Should You Clean Motorized Screens?

The frequency of cleaning should be about the same as with standard screens: at least once a year. That’s a good standard for indoor screens and often good enough for outdoor screens as well.

You may want to clean outdoor screens more often when they overlook areas that generate more debris than, say, a concrete patio area. Flower beds, gardens, sandy beach areas, fields, lawns (especially if mowed without a bag) all kick up debris your screen will likely catch.

Of course, here in the Savannah, GA area we need to mention hurricane screens as well. You will want to clean your hurricane screens thoroughly after they catch significant debris from tropical storm and hurricane exposure. Learn more about storm protection here.


Still Have Questions About Cleaning Motorized Screens?

Even with this guide, you may still have questions about retractable screens and motorized screens, like:

  • It’s not looking as good as I’d like. Am I doing this right?
  • Do I have an issue with operation that cleaning won’t fix?
  • It is time to replace my old screens or retractable screen system?

If so, bring ‘em on! Coastal Canvas knows screens and shades, and we’re more than happy to tackle your questions.


We do hope to earn your business, but even if you’re not yet a customer, we’re happy to offer advice and guidance to homeowners and business owners throughout the areas we serve.

Coastal Canvas serves these and surrounding areas:

  • Savannah, GA
  • Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Bluffton, SC
  • Palmetto Bluff
  • Beaufort, SC
  • Richmond Hill, GA
  • St. Simon’s Island, GA

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1674 Chatham Parkway Savannah, Georgia 31405. Phone: (912) 236-2416. Open Monday to Friday 8am-5pm.

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