Door jambs and hinges: two areas where if you wipe them down regularly, you shouldn’t ever have problems. On the other hand, as a detailer or someone who encounters filthy vehicles inside and out, you need to know what to do in certain situations.
In this post, I’ll explain 3 different methods to clean door jambs (the area around the door) as well as the hinges. I’ll start with simple methods for if your door jambs aren’t too dirty, and move on to more advanced methods for cleaning those absolutely filthy door jambs.
Method 1: Towel and all-purpose cleaner
Best for: Light dust and dirt
If you keep your vehicle pretty clean in-between washes, it’s a little overkill to break out a steamer or spend too much time in crevices.
In most cases, you can simply spray a diluted all-purpose cleaner that’s gentle on paint (like my favorite Simple Green) and it will clean door jambs just fine.
As long as you have enough lubrication and don’t run a dry cloth across the panel, there’s not a lot to worry about. In some cases, you can use soap and water if sand or small particles are on the bottom edges of the jamb where you step in; for light dust, the scratch risk is minimal assuming you use enough lubrication and zero pressure from the towel.
Method 2: Soap and water, detailing brushes, all-purpose cleaner
Best for: Visibility dirty door jambs
For visibility dirty door jambs, you can start with water and soap to remove particles that could scratch paint; I would use a spray bottle filled with water to rinse; if you use a hose, apply a controlled mist and be careful not to spray water inside the car.
For most cases, it’s perfectly fine to start with a detailing brush and an all-purpose cleaner. You should never apply pressure when agitating painted areas with a brush, let the product do the cleaning work.
Method 3: Steam
Best for: Severe cases; extremely dirty door jambs
If you’re detailing a car that’s absolutely filthy, chances are the interior is quite dirty. In these cases, a steam gun like the Tornado is simply a faster and more efficient way of cleaning.
Check out my post here on cleaning a car using steam if interested. For most people, brushes, soap, and water, or a gentle all-purpose cleaner is perfectly okay.
When to use degreaser on door jambs
Since door hinges typically contain grease, a degreaser will help remove any grease that’s on the paint or surrounding trim. Don’t use a product like Purple Power on exterior painted surfaces because it’s too strong, but you can use a mild all-purpose cleaner or degreaser.
Since you obviously don’t want to rinse your door jambs with a hose and get the interior wet, a spray bottle with a medium spray pattern I’ve found works well.
Cleaning car door hinges vs jambs
Clean your car’s door hinges the same way you would your door jambs, using a brush and a simple spray-on cleaner. You’ll want to be careful if you doors already don’t close well because the hinges aren’t greased. A degreaser will obviously remove grease, so pay special care to the hinge itself.
For hinges, you can apply a lubricant like lithium grease once clean to ensure they open and close easily.
How to lubricate door and trunk hinges after you clean them
Most people don’t think to add lubrication to door jambs, but a penetrating oil like the original WD-40 followed by white lithium grease can help prevent squeaking and corrosion. Don’t lubricate the hydraulic gas pistons near the trunk area if you apply lubrication to these latches.
Because lithium grease is petroleum-based, it adheres to metal a bit better than silicon grease. You’ll want a lithium grease that’s safe around plastics specifically for door jambs. WD-40 also makes a white lithium grease you can pick up here on Amazon, as well as Blaster.
Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for lubrication recommendations for latches. Graphite can also be used to lubricate locking mechanisms, but everything must be dry.
Door jambs and hinges may not be as big of a deal as other parts of your vehicle, but from personal experience, I know dirty door jambs can cause rusting over time if neglected. I like to wax the painted areas of my door jambs because it’s one of the first places rust likes to start.
I’ve dealt with doors that are difficult to close, or don’t close properly; if you clean your door jambs and pay attention to the trim around your door, you can expect your doors to work as intended.
Keep in mind trim pieces will require a slightly different cleaning technique. Check out my post here where I go into detail on one product I like to use to clean my Jeep’s door panels and trim.