How to Properly Clean the Track of a Sliding Glass Door

A sliding glass door leading from an empty apartment into the backyard.
  • 2-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-130
What You'll Need
Miniature vacuum
Terrycloth towel
Steel wool
Tack cloth
Lubricating grease

When a sliding glass door seems to stick, the resistance to movement is usually caused by dirt, oil, and other particles trapped in the track. The only thing that can fix this problem is removing whatever is causing it. The information below will take you through the proper steps for cleaning a dirty glass door track.

Step 1 - Remove the Door

You can clean the track without removing the door, but you will only be working on a portion of the whole thing. There are two ways to pull out a sliding glass door. The first is by grasping it at each end and lifting upward as you pull it toward yourself, while the other is to locate the lower rollers and use the screwdriver to raise them off the track. When you do this, you can then lift the door upward and pull it toward you to slide it out.

Step 2 - Do an Initial Clean

Bits of leaves, bark, gravel, and sand are just some of the things that can get into your door's track and prevent it from gracefully sliding. Use a miniature vacuum to remove any of these loose materials. Vacuum both the top and bottom of the sliding glass door as well as the tracks. Always remember that there are actually four areas in total to keep clean.

Step 3 - Remove Rust

The tracks of a sliding glass door are typically made out of aluminum or other weak metal. Most of the time this metal is not treated against rust and so it can develop easily if cleaning isn't done regularly. This rust can be what causes the doors to stick. Remove any deposits you might find with steel wool. Once you are satisfied that most of the rust is gone, use the tack cloth to remove any metal particles you may have created.

Step 4 - Clean Grime and Oil

It is important to note that changing temperatures as well as the constant opening, closing, and bombardment from the elements can cause grime to surface in the door's tracks. Oil will often seize and become thick which will hinder the sliding glass from moving smoothly. To remove this buildup of grease and grime, you will need to dip a toothbrush into acetone. Get the bristles soaking wet and begin rubbing the inside of the track, both top and bottom as well as the tracks on the door itself. Once the grease has been removed, you can wipe up with a terrycloth towel.

WARNING: Acetone is toxic to inhale or touch, so wear gloves, safety glasses and a face mask while using it.

Step 5 - Finish Up

To allow the sliding glass doors free movement, the tracks should be greased after they are clean. Use a small amount of lubrication on just the door tracks, and put the doors back into place. Slide the glass several times to distribute the grease along the tracks and wheels.

Any obstructions in the tracks should now be taken care of and regular cleaning should keep it that way.