How to Clean and Lubricate Door Hinges

by Michael Franco
Man remove the door  Twists self-tapping screw with a screwdriver  Stainless door hinges on a white door

Doors are, naturally, an important part of any house or building. They provide security, privacy and comfort — until they don't. Few things are as irritating as a squeaky door hinge.

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Over time, dirt and grime can accumulate in door hinges, which makes them produce that classic horror movie squeak. If that's not quite the vibe you're going for in your home, then removing the doors and tending to the hinges should eliminate it.

How to Care for Your Door Hinges: 5 Steps

Things You’ll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver or awl
  • Hammer
  • Clean cloth or rag
  • Small brush
  • Warm water
  • Mild detergent
  • Lubricant (see below)
  • Tack hammer

Step 1: Remove the Hinge Pins

To clean and lubricate door hinges, you’ll first need to remove the hinge pins. Hinge pins are the long, metal rods that unite the part of the hinge that is attached to the door to the part of the hinge that is installed in the door jamb. You can remove the hinge pins by using a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer. Place the flat-head screwdriver under the hinge pin and gently tap it with the hammer. This will cause the pin to pop out of the hinge.

Another option is using an awl and a hammer to tap the pin out.

Start by removing the bottom hinge or hinges, followed by the top. Note that when you get the hinge pin out of one of the hinges, the door will become unstable, so be sure to brace it with your hand to avoid damaging the door or jamb. In fact, if you have trouble removing the second (or third) pin, it could be that the door isn't aligned from top to bottom. You'll have an easier time getting subsequent pins out if you keep it straight. Working with a partner can be helpful here.

Step 2: Clean the Hinges

Once the hinge pins are removed, you can clean the hinges. You can use a clean cloth and a small brush to remove any dirt or debris from the hinges. You can also use a solution of warm water and mild detergent to clean the hinges. Dip the brush in the solution and gently scrub the hinges until they are clean. Make sure to clean both the hinge pins and both parts of the hinge itself.

Step 3: Dry the Hinges

After cleaning the hinges, you should dry them thoroughly. Use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess water from the hinges. You can also use a hairdryer on a low setting to dry the hinges quickly.

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Step 4: Lubricate the Hinges

After the hinges are dry, you can lubricate them to keep them functioning smoothly.

The best lubricants for door hinges depend on the type of hinge and the environment in which the hinge is located. Here are some options:

  • Silicone spray lubricant: This is a good all-purpose lubricant that is effective in most environments. It dries quickly and doesn't attract dust or dirt.
  • White lithium grease: This lubricant is ideal for heavy-duty hinges that are subject to a lot of stress or pressure. It is also effective in high-temperature environments.
  • Graphite powder: This dry lubricant is useful in situations where oil or grease may attract dirt or dust. It is also a good choice for hinges that are exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Teflon spray: This lubricant is useful in situations where the hinge needs to be lubricated but cannot tolerate oil or grease. It is also effective in extreme temperatures and in environments where dust or dirt may be a problem.
  • Vegetable oil: This is a natural lubricant that can be effective in a pinch. However, it is not as long-lasting as other lubricants and may need to be reapplied more frequently.

It's important to note that some lubricants, such as WD-40, are not recommended for use on door hinges because they can attract dust and dirt over time.

Step 5: Rehang the Door and Reinstall the Hinge Pins

Once you have cleaned and lubricated the hinges, you can rehang the door. First, put it back in the jamb by aligning the hinges. This can be a tricky step because you'll need to align multiple hinges simultaneously, so a friend can be a big help at this stage as well. Once the hinges are aligned, keep the door steady and reinstall the hinge pins by sliding them into the hinges and tapping them gently down with your hammer. A hammer with a smaller head, such as a tack hammer, is advised.

If you're working alone, it can be helpful to put all of the hinge pins in first and then go back and tap them down once the door is in place.

Keep It Movin’

Cleaning and lubricating door hinges are important parts of maintaining a door's functionality. By following these simple steps, you can keep your door hinges in good condition and prevent them from becoming dirty and squeaky. Regular maintenance of door hinges will not only keep them functioning properly but also increase the lifespan of your doors. In general, you should lubricate your door hinges about every six months, or sooner, if the door gets a lot of use or starts squeaking.