Home Improvement Weekend Project: Clean the Garage Door

For the next few weekends while the weather is beautiful I’m going to share some of our outdoor home improvement projects.

First up on the list is something that has bothered me ever since we moved into our house. Every time I pulled up into the driveway I noticed it, and now it’s time to do something about it.

The garage door was dirty, and it made our house look dingy.

As I was trying to figure out where to start on my long list of house improvements, I decided to start with the door.

I pulled out the hose and filled a bucket with soapy water. I got out the step stool and a scrub bush, and I planned to spend thirty minutes scrubbing off the dirt and grime.

Then my husband came outside with the mop, and five minutes later the garage door was all clean.

It only took five minutes! Eight months and five minutes, actually.

There are some things I want to do for our house, for the exterior and the yard, but I’m waiting to do those because they cost money. Start with the things you can clean to improve your home for little or no money.

What projects are you working on outside?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Planting cheery flowers in the urns I have by my front door. I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I can usually maintain a few flowers in a container and they make me smile every time I pull up to my house.
    heather´s last post…Periodic Table Puzzle

  2. We just built a planter and put in our first vegetable garden! I;m so excited to grow food with my children.
    Jessica @ Stay at Home-ista´s last post…A little birdie

  3. Trying to get up all the pin oak leaves. Pin oaks don’t drop their leaves until spring, so all those crispy brown leaves fall down on all the plants that are sending up delicate little shoots and the blooming bulbs, meaning you have to pull MANY of them out by hand AND that your yard looks like it’s still Fall but the daffodils are blooming. Friends don’t let friends plant pin oaks, people!

  4. DANG!!

    Every spring I take a scrub brush (and ladder) to a certain part of our siding that gets super dirty.It takes a good part of the day. I’m now going out to buy a mop. Give your husband a kiss big for me. …….. :)

  5. Great tip. I love your blog :)

  6. Ha! this made me laugh :) We don’t use our garage much and recently found that a mouse had taken up residence in the door mechanism … guess that means we needed a little clean? :)
    Amanda@EasyPeasyOrganic´s last post…Avocado, Miso and Tahini on Toast

  7. My in-laws came from the UK a couple of years ago to visit and they were helping me with some chores outside. I decided that while they were there I wanted to clean the outside of our front windows, one of which needs a ladder because our house is on a hill. I got a rag to start and my father-in-law mentioned the mop—it was a revelatory moment for me! Worked like a dream and only took a minute.

    • Oh my, why didn’t I think of that? I need to clean the windows, but I’ve been dreading the chore.

    • Definitely trying this! My windows are disgraceful.
      Jennifer´s last post…On my needles: Vagabonde

    • That is so funny – we here in Switzerland shake our heads at the idea of windows that open outwards!! Ours all open inwards so we can always keep them clean ourselves and easily ;)

      • I love that clever idea of windows opening inwards. We are in a 1926 rental home and all the windows in the living and dining rooms don’t open at all—they are just one huge pane of glass. It really troubles me that they don’t open and we can’t get any cross-ventilation without leaving the front door open, and I can’t usually do that because we have small children who love to run out the door!

      • I wish we could do that here, but the sheer number of flies in Australia makes fly screens necessary if you actually want to be able to open your windows (especially in summer).

        I must admit, I have daydreamed about retractable fly screens that would allow me to have pretty windows while still being able to open the windows!

  8. Pulling weeds and trimming bushes was top priority as the weather started to cooperate. We love picnics on our lawn or just playing frizbee with the kids. You can’t do that if prickly weeds get under your feet all the time. So as a family, we’ve got down on our knees and made our lawn a friendly and inviting place.

    • Good! I’ll put y’all to work tomorrow in my backyard while dinner is getting ready.

  9. I need to wash the porch! We live in the city and the porch and doors get covered with grime. I use a mop. Sometimes, I let the kids do it but it’s not quite warm enough for them to get wet (because they will get wet).
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…My Favorite Birthday Gift

  10. We’re closing on our new house this upcoming Thursday and BOY do I have a long list! Our garage door is a depressing gray, and having just moved from Seattle I am DONE with gray! After painting our gray door RED, the garage door is going WHITE!!!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Week 34 and Lots of Firsts

  11. carol jane says:

    Oh my gosh! Thats exactly what I tell my husband. That there are lots of things we can do around the house that doesnt cost anything. CLEANING! He wount do stuff because of the expense. Thats awesome that your husband helps you with all that cleaning stuff. My husband. Not so much.

  12. That’s genius! As we don’t own a home yet, it is a little non-applicable, but I look at houses with the idea that I will need $X for renovations. It seems so easy to ignore the free improvements you can do, but they can sometimes have just as much of an impact.
    Jennie´s last post…Simply Life: Springtime

  13. Our landscaping out front is theoretically done by the HOA, but they’ve been slacking. There are tons of weeds coming up through the gravel (yup, Arizona rock yards) – and they’re bothering me. But, I figure I’m paying for them to do it – so I should wait and get my money’s worth, right? And yet…I’m sure it would only take a few minutes and look so much better.
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…TV, Memories, WWII, & Library Tyranny

  14. What a great idea – and a smart guy :) I’m going to remember this for our siding too.

  15. I like to see a young person put to work ! How Dickensian of me.

  16. Our cars need washing desperately, but I find the job daunting because I am vertically challenged. Wonder if a mop would make the job easier? I’m going to try!

    In other outdoor news, we are working up to upcycling my daughter’s old sandbox into an herb-and-edible-flower garden. Yum!
    Jennifer´s last post…On my needles: Vagabonde

  17. How do you stay motivated to do all these things, there are sooo many things myself and my fiance want to do to improve our home, like painting and cleaning, but the thought of it all puts me off and kills my motivation.

  18. Carolina says:

    We have april weather which means sun, rain, hail and snow in one day. As soon as that wears off I will get the hose and brush out to clean the porch and then oil it (it’s wood). The yard work is done, we had great weather last week, but I have to get the sand off from the bricks in the front yard before the trail of sand up-picking machines come by our street next week.

  19. Will you be doing a post on your home improvement list?

  20. We need to clean our garage door too. Thanks for the reminder! Plus, I need to add a few Bird of Paradise plants to the mix, and look for a few other drought resistant plants.

    My your little one is getting big. You go Doug! :D

  21. Hubby does all the outside and yard work. I have tried to help but he always tells me he doesn’t need any supervisor. :D

    The yard has had a good ranking to pull up the dead stuff and has had one fertilizing. I will put out some flowers once I am sure the cold has packed up and gone elsewhere.
    Donna´s last post…Here Comes The Easter Bunny!! Easter Purse and Headband Special!!

  22. Michelle says:

    I agree–sometimes it is best to start with jobs that do not cost any money to do but will make a big impact. This weekend we tore out some raspberry bushes that had been planted in our front/side yard years ago by the previous owners. They did not produce many berries because they did not get enough sun. It took under an hour (there were a lot of them with an incredible root system) and has made a huge impact.

    Also, here’s a suggestion: instead of a mop, a useful item for cleaning cars (and windows!) is squeegee and sponge all-in-one. Get one with a telescoping handle. The sponge applies the window cleaning fluid and the squeegee clears the window. Works great and can work for the car too. Did I mention they were not expensive? I think that they are under $11.00 at the hardware store. For small window jobs and mirrors though I often just use my homemade window cleaner and newspapers. Works like a charm.

  23. To save money on flowers, ask your friends for cuttings or bulbs when they divide thier flowers in the fall. For shrubs, roses or anything with a woody stem, bury the branch with a sction or divide by bending it and putting soild and a stone to weigh the branch down and in a few weeks there will be little roots on the branch that you can dig up, put in a small container and grow to your size. Remember to look to the future for the size of the plant you are plunking in the ground. It is too late when a sago palm has been planted one foot from the side of the driveway henn that palm will get to be 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide at maturity and cannot be moved. I also save seeds from annuals to give to neighbors for potted flowers and certain colors. A pwnny saved is a penny earned or whould we say nickel since the penny is going away soon?

  24. My landlord recently replaced some of our windows. Now that they’re done I’m finally cleaning my downstairs windows. I’ve also pulled out flowerbed trim in front of my front window – it was a curvy bed, and meant it was impossible to keep the grass in front looking tidy. I’m going to dig it out to a straight edge and replace the trim, and then we’re growing vegetables (our back garden is 2/3 shade, all the sun is out front) it’ll look so much neater than the mess there right now.

  25. Heather says:

    We too are on a mission to update, change and make our home more “ours” without too much money. On deck:

    Frame and hang family photos

    Disassemble the wardrobe that the movers told us would not get up the stairs and find a way to get it out of the dining room and on the second floor. Even if it has to go through a window.

    Take a putty knife to the outside edges of our living room windows and unstick them, I hope.

    • My parents have a very old wardrobe that has been sawn in half and reassembled to fit in somewhere. You can only really tell from the inside. I hope you don’t have to go that far!

      • That was my mom’s suggestion too; luckily it was plan C and plan B worked. We ended up disassembling it completely. Since it is (still after 3 years) unfinished wood I have decided to paint the insides this weekend before it is reassembled – so much easier to paint a flat surface than the inside of a 7 foot wardrobe.

        Now I’ll have it in the room we want it in and finished with paint. success!

  26. I could have written this post! My husband thinks I’m crazy when I clean off the garage doors, but it makes such a big difference. The other high-impact, warm-weather chore I try to do is wash windows. But the thought of washing all of them is daunting, so I just concentrate on the windows in the two rooms we use the most – the family room and the kitchen. It’s such a lift to gaze thru clean, sparkly windows!

  27. So many projects, so little time! We are re-siding the house and painting. At least the new windows are all in now. (thank you God for windows that open!) As the different sides of the house get their siding up, I get to plan and plant some flowers and shrubs. The best part is going to be when we open up the front porch with railings instead of windows. Seems like I don’t care about the inside so much in the spring; maybe just looking for an excuse to be outside!

  28. oh my goodness, what a smart idea! And you just solved a problem for me. The outside of my kitchen window is too high for me to reach (even with a stepladder). Every time I look out the window, it bugs me how dirty it is. I’m totally trying the mop idea! Believe me when I tell you that this small thing will make a huge difference for me on a daily basis – so, thank you so much!!

  29. Denise C. says:

    I live in a townhouse and have a small patch in my front “yard” where I put in new shrubs and flowers. My neighbor let me plant on her side as well. Next up, our front door needs a fresh coat of paint, and the surrounding trim. I’ve lived in my home for almost 3 years and purchased my very first welcome door mat today. :)

  30. The top portion of our chimney is literally falling apart, so we’ve outsourced the rebuilding of the irreparable parts. We’re also replacing an old storm door with a nice new one (that can actually open and close, how novel!) After that we have some landscaping to do; we’ll do more of that ourselves.

    BTW, have you seen what people have done to garage doors with paint? It was in a blog this past year; someone “transformed” their old, dingy garage door. They stenciled and painted on “carriage door” type features in lieu of getting a new door. might not work (or be of interest to you) with your style home, but it was pretty cool!

  31. Oh. My. Goodness.

    I have the exact same problem. It bugs me every time I pull into the driveway. Why on Earth have I not done this yet???????

    You are an inspiration, per usual.