I have a lot of sliding doors and windows around the house. There’s just something about the flow of opening a sliding door that calms me. But then that calm is ruined by a lot of irritating squeaking.
It sounds like a first-world problem, I know, but I’m not the only one who dislikes squeaky doors. When I was researching this problem back in the day, I noticed that not a lot of people wrote about squeaking sliding windows. That’s because both sliding doors and sliding windows squeak due to similar problems.
With all that in mind, I decided to share my own experiences with getting rid of the squeaks from my doors and windows. To be more specific, I wanted to cover the best sliding door and window lubricants you can use.
But we can’t just jump into the lubricant list without discussing a few important details first. Before you try to lubricate your sliding doors or windows, you need to know what makes the squeaking happen in the first place. So let’s find out together, shall we?
What Makes the Sliding Doors and Windows Squeak?
It’s been over 10 years since I got my first sliding door. So you’d better believe that I know my way around them. I’ve had to repair, replace, and rid myself of dozens of sliding doors and windows. Needless to say, I know what makes them tick and, consequently, what makes them squeak.
Generally, there’s only a handful of reasons that cause squeaking in doors and windows. They are as follows:
- Poor alignment
- Damaged rollers
- Broken doors (and/or windows)
- Dirty tracks
Let’s cover all of these issues in detail because not all of them will require you to lubricate your doors and windows.
Poor Door & Window Alignment
Each sliding door and window has a track. For example, when you look at the top and bottom of your window, you’ll see that they’re moving along narrow strips. These strips are called tracks, and they’re just wide enough for the window to move sideways.
However, sometimes, the window will be loose. It’ll start moving where you don’t want it to, and you’ll risk dislodging it from the tracks. And a broken window benefits nobody.
Of course, if you’re facing this problem like I did a couple of times, you don’t need to lubricate the tracks. In fact, all you have to do is remove the door (or window), and then place it back in. That way, you’ll get it back on track, literally and figuratively, without any extra effort.
It’s extremely important to know that we’re often responsible for poor door and window alignment. For instance, if we slam the sliding door shut, we risk dislodging it. My pro-tip to everyone is: try not to slam the doors or windows, even if you’re extremely angry. Just punch a pillow or squeeze a rubber stress ball — it’s cheaper than damaging your doors.
If you’ve ever owned a sliding glass door, you probably know what a door roller is. But in case you don’t, allow me to explain. Sometimes, doors use rollers to move back and forth on the tracks. Not all glass doors have them, but a lot of modern ones do, and they need maintenance.
There are several ways a roller can cause squeaking in sliding doors or windows. For example, grime and dirt can accumulate on the roller, or even on its sides. If that happens, I advise that you remove the rollers, clean them up, and install them back in.
Rollers can also be misaligned. I remember one time when a company installed my terrace door, and the very first night it began to squeak. After about two days, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I called them about it. Once they checked everything, they saw that they had installed it crookedly, and I was compensated for the trouble.
But what can you do at home, by yourself, if a roller isn’t aligned properly? Well, just remove the door and put it back once you readjust the rollers. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’ll save you money.
Finally, the rollers could be broken after years of use. In case that happens, no amount of cleaning or realignment can help you. Therefore, I advise that you buy new rollers and install them yourself.
Broken or Damaged Doors and Windows
Yes, sliding doors and windows break almost as frequently as regular ones. Sometimes old age can do them in, other times an accident can cause them to snap or shatter (and squeak later on). I even ran into a few people who managed to drown their living room door. From what I understand, they spilled a lot of water on it and didn’t call the company on time; the water stayed soaked in the door and deteriorated it from the inside.
So, how do we deal with broken doors that squeak? Sadly, there’s only one real solution, and it involves dumping the old door and replacing it with a new one.
I purposefully left the dirty tracks at the end. For those of you who paid attention, I didn’t mention lubrication in any of the sections above. That’s because all of those problems can be solved without lubricating the door. But with dirty tracks, you have to rely on lubrication as a solution.
Dirty tracks are actually the most common reason behind the squeaking of sliding doors and windows. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. We open our doors a few dozen times a day, at least. So it’s only natural that a lot of dust, dirt, grime, and muck accumulates in the tracks.
Of course, the type and amount of dirt also depend on the type of door we have. For example, if we have a metal door (or a door with a metal track), rust is more than likely going to be a problem. Minor wood debris is also possible, especially if you have woodworms or termites.
So, what should we do if we spot dirty tracks? In my experience, it’s a simple process:
- First, we vacuum the track. We need to get every single speck of muck out of there. I suggest using a portable vacuum cleaner, but if you don’t have one, just use the slim extension of your regular cleaner.
- Next, we clean the track with a wet towel. Obviously, there will be some grime that got stuck on the bottom. A wet wipe or a wet cloth can help you clean up the track after vacuuming. Sometimes you can use a solution instead of water, like ethyl-alcohol or even acetone nail polish removers.
- Finally, we apply the lubricant.
Features to Look for in Lubricants
It Should Be Silicone-Based
Some lubricants are oil-based, which makes dust and grime stick on them easily. On the other hand, you have silicone-based lubricants that don’t succumb to this problem. I have personally been using silicone lubricants for years, and my doors and windows have always worked as squeak-free as possible. Not only do they get the job done, but they’re also long-lasting, and you don’t need to apply them as often as oil-based ones.
Must Be Non-Toxic
‘Must’ is a strong word to use here. Honestly, you can use a slightly toxic lubricant, but only if it evaporates into the air quickly. Also, make sure that it’s fast-drying, so that your pets don’t taste it by accident.
Naturally, if you can afford a decent non-toxic lubricant, don’t think twice — buy it. While a squeaking door can be annoying, nothing is more important than your health and the health of those around you.
It Should Withstand Extreme Temperatures
Luckily, I don’t live in extreme weather conditions like the residents of Reykjavik or Cairo. However, even my sliding doors and windows can succumb to the elements.
When it comes to harsh climates, the best lubricant is the one that can withstand extreme heat or coldness. So, as long as it doesn’t freeze the minute you apply it or evaporate in the summer heat, it’s the product for you.
Serving Several Purposes Is a Plus
Now, to someone like me, who has a lot of doors and windows to lube up, this characteristic isn’t too important. However, if you only have a single sliding door or a single pair of sliding windows, you’ll want to empty that bottle somewhere else.
Luckily, a lot of lubricants out there can be used for different purposes. For example, a single product can lubricate your door, prevent corrosion, and minimize stickiness. That makes them perfect for your car, your garage doors, leather surfaces, bicycle tires, etc.
Reviews of the Best Lubricants for Sliding Doors and Windows
1. 3-In-One Professional Garage Door Lubricant
3-in-One have made amazing products over the years, and this one is right there at the top with the best of them. And don’t let the name fool you. This lubricant will cover a lot more than just your garage door.
I actually used this lubricant last year when I ran out of 3M silicone spray. Not only did it dry quickly, but it didn’t leave any residue behind. A lot of low-quality lubricants usually leave a white trace behind, which just looks disgusting.
3-in-One garage door lubricant is incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is spray it onto the track, and you’re good to go. And what’s the best thing about it? It works on many different surfaces, including metal, wood, plastic, and ceramics.
2. 3M Silicone Spray
It might sound strange to use a car spray lubricant for a sliding door (or window), but I actually took the risk. One of my friends recommended that I try the 3M silicone spray on one of my sliding windows. I won’t lie, at first, I was a little skeptical about doing it. One spraying later, and I have been buying 3M ever since.
3M is also a multi-purpose spray. Since it’s used in cars, it has anti-corrosive properties. In addition, it’s easy to apply, and it dries quickly. It’s A+ across the board for this lubricant.
But one thing that made it stand out for me was moisture prevention. Namely, the 3M silicone spray is excellent if you have a wooden sliding door and live in an area that gets a lot of rain. It will keep the water out of your wooden door for a long time.
3. DuPont Teflon Silicone Lubricant
DuPont is a household name with many years of high-quality service. And while I personally don’t always buy their stuff, I always recommend them to friends. As of late, I kept recommending this particular product because of how effective it really is.
One major advantage of the DuPont Teflon lubricant is that it works great on non-metal materials. So, if your sliding doors or windows have plastic tracks, DuPont Teflon is perfect for them. In addition, it’s waterproof, non-toxic, and it dries quickly after you use it. In short, it has everything the perfect anti-squeaking lubricant needs.
4. Why The Frog Sliding Door Lubricant
Not too many people will buy a product from a company called Why the Frog. But once you try their VOC-free lubricant, you’ll thank the lucky stars you bought it.
Why the Frog’s lubricant is as nature-friendly as you can get. It’s made from mineral-based pharmaceutical grade ingredients. When you spray this lubricant onto your tracks, you won’t have to worry about dangerous substances evaporating into the air. And, more importantly, you won’t hear that annoying squeak anymore.
Sometimes, you just have to go with the basics. Everyone has heard of WD-40, so there isn’t much I can add here. It’s an amazing lubricant that will prevent any liquid from entering the surface you spray.
The cool thing about WD-40 is that you’ll always have it as a back-up option. What do I mean by this? Well, for example, I have at least two cans of it, but I only used them on my sliding doors twice this year, when I ran out of 3M. A lot of households have at least one can of WD-40, so if you happen to run out of any other lubricant, you’ll always have this one handy.
How Often Should I Lubricate My Doors and Windows?
Lubricating a sliding door or window once will definitely stop the squeaks. However, grime and dust won’t stop accumulating. In addition, your door isn’t getting any newer.
With that in mind, I can’t stress enough how important it is to lubricate your door often. Now, you don’t have to do it every single day. After all, that would be wasteful, monotonous, and, judging from my experience, pointless.
When I had squeaking issues with my original sliding door, I would lubricate them every morning and every night. But a friend of mine told me to give the door roughly 4–5 days to ‘rest.’ Sure enough, I left the door alone and didn’t lubricate it until it started to squeak again after roughly a week. If you, too, have a sliding door or window, feel free to use this ‘five-day rest’ method.
Lubricating sliding doors and windows isn’t exactly rocket science. However, I remember how much trouble I had to find the proper products to get the job done. That’s why I feel it’s important to share my list of go-to lubricants with you. After all, the door and the window are both an important part of our home, and we need to provide them with the maintenance and the care that they deserve.