Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.
You know those home repairs that you meant to do the last time they bothered you, but then you completely ignored it because you feel like you don’t have time, and you’re still dealing with the problem? Yeah, that was basically what was happening with my sliding glass door.
Every time I’d let Charlie out into the yard, the door would stick. Every day. I could easily blame the previous owner for letting it rust, but over the years it became gummed up with dirt, sludge, dog hair, and even the occasional spider web. And rather than scrub it out, I made the assumption that the door was simply always going to be a pain or would require replacement — and I wanted to put that expensive thought in the back of my mind for as long as possible. So, I did what any reasonable homeowner who doesn’t want to deal with the problem rightthisminute would do: I yanked harder on the door to get it to open, let Charlie out, then yanked really hard on the door again when it came time to let her back in. Usually, this would result in one of two things: either the door would cooperate and slide smoother on the next pull (yay! but rare), or the door would stick a little bit more (or come off the track), and would be even more difficult to deal with the next time around. This went on for way too long. Because I’m apparently a glutton for this sort of crap.
I know that I should have dealt with it sooner. In fact, I should have been doing this “repair” all along as regular maintenance (so, I guess, learn from my mistake?). But, this is also one of those things that simply can’t be ignored forever — the door will just keep sticking until it won’t budge. Had I known it would have taken me all of five minutes (if that), I probably would have done this ages ago!
As it just so happens, the makers behind WD-40 reached out to me recently and asked if we could work together on a couple of projects as a sponsor, and I knew right away that I could use their products (I mean, is there a DIYer out there who hasn’t used WD-40 at least once?). In the box they sent, they included this:
Dissolves gum and sludge? Prevents rust? Waterproof? Yes, please.
How to Fix a Sliding Glass Door
What you need:
- inexpensive scrub brush (I picked mine up from IKEA for a dollar or two)
- shop vac (I have a compact one that’s great for small pickups like this)
- 3-in-ONE pneumatic tool oil
Normally, this oil is used for lubricating tools (like a pneumatic nail gun), but just like it says on the label, it’s meant for resisting rust and preventing corrosion and gumming up, which are the same properties that make it a win for this project (FYI, they also have a “multi-purpose” oil too, but this still did the trick!).
First, all you need to do is simply give the sliding door track a good scrubbing. Be sure to brush down both sides of the track as well as help scrub out the dirt that exists in the middle (move the door along the track to expose the front, scrub, move the door back to the closed position, scrub, and so on).
Do this as many times as needed to get the dirt loose along the whole track.
As you scrub, use a shop vac to vacuum up the loose dirt (or in my case, spider webs, pine straw, dog hair, and dirt). This will help you see if you really got it all… or if you just think you did.
The door should already be functioning far better by this point, but if you really want it to last, you’ll need a little lubricant.
Finally, add the 3-in-1 oil along the track. Move the door back and forth like you did in step 1 to help the door glide over the oiled areas; this will actually help to move around the lubricant into the harder-to-reach middle area where the door is constantly sliding and experiencing the friction that makes it stick.
This little fix took all of five minutes, but it made a night and day difference to my everyday routine to let Charlie in and out of the house (which she wants to do all the time). If only combating her nonstop shedding (or tracking in more dirt) were this easy!
Don’t forget, since this project takes so little time, you can also take a few minutes to oil up all of your tools while you’re at it. This is another thing I do too infrequently, but since I plan to use my pneumatic nail gun all summer long with upcoming projects, I know that I need to make more of an effort for proper tool care. Oiling your tools (and chainsaw blades, too) help to extend the overall life of the tool, so it’s never a bad idea to keep a bottle like this on hand. Plus, a little goes a long way, so as long as you don’t misplace it in your messy garage (ahem), you can use the same bottle for hundreds of projects.
Not bad for a quick fix, eh?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by 3-in-ONE Oil, but all opinions are 100% my own!
um…could you do a post on how exactly to oil tools (and what tools should not be oiled)?
Great idea :) Yeah, I can do that. I’ll put it on the calendar (probably July, I’d bet).
Thanks for writing this. I should try out this 3-in-one oil, very handy to have around.
I use 3 in 1 oil sometimes very useful. Now how do I get dog to stop bumping into the screen door and knocking it off the track?
Haha, if you can get mine to stop messing up my blinds, I’ll get yours to stop bumping into the door. Deal?
Loved this fix…I first saw a YouTube video that would have had me dismantling the entire door! That scared me so I kept scrolling. Your description of the problem matched mine except I have a cat instead. Did the way past due cleaning with an old tooth brush and used Goo b Gone (thats what I had on hand) afterwards to further clean the track. Good as new!!!
Yup, pet hair is not the sliding door’s friend! Ours does very well now, but I felt kinda silly letting mine get that bad after how much of a difference it made!
Thank you for sharing this trick. My entrée de garage window totally annoys me
seems like a great product to have on hand for many around the house fixes! thanks!
I’ve run the vacuum over it here and there, but have not yet gone in for that deep clean. Thanks for the tip about the lubricating oil!
This is amazing! Ours is having this problem and I’ve been trying WD-40 and it’s really just not doing the trick anymore. Thank you for sharing, I’m hoping this solves the problem!
Thanks for sharing those tips! I deal with this all the time and really don’t know how to fix it. And I love your dog! … He (or she) is so lovely.
That’s such a great tip! It’s very helpful. The 3 in 1 oil is really a great tool. I will use it to fix my sliding door problem. Thank you.
The glass door keeps sticking is the world problem man!! I hate it and always find the best way to fix it. I’ll try this 3-in-1 oil. It seems work with my glass door. I nearly want to break it out lol! It annoys me everyday when I try to open to get out of the house and go to work. And love your doggie too!!
Would this work on windows that are hard to open?
Not sure, I haven’t tried it personally.
If the rollers aren’t turning, lubricating them is a very temporary fix and can cause irreparable damage to the track. New rollers are a long term fix. More work and more cost, but usually well worth it.
Not for me; this patio door is not worth re-investing in and very inefficient. The temporary fix is less hassle until I can upgrade the entire setup to hinged doors that are better insulated from heat/cold. Thanks for the tip though!
Just read your tip and wondered if the oil would create a bigger issue in areas like the Desert where sand is a constant…thoughts anyone? I was thinking of using graphite powder (typically used to unstick lock mechanisms)…hmmmmm
Around here where humidity is high, muck is a given so I’ll admit I haven’t thought much about drier areas. But graphite powder sounds like an interesting option!
This post is a couple of years old now. How is that oil working? Did it eventually gum up? Did your door keep working smoothly for a year or longer between cleaning?
It occasionally gums up like the door originally did (accumulation of dirt that needs to be cleaned out). So, I just clean it out again and apply a little more oil. It never sticks as bad as it did then because I’m better about cleaning it and reapplication. I can’t remember the last time I did it but it lasts long enough to be worth the effort!
Great tip. Another great way to clean before you lubricate is sprinkle baking soda on the track and pour a little vinegar over it to make it fizz and bubble-gets in all the crevices. Then scrub, wipe/vacuum up and keep repeating along the track til it’s clean. I do this about once a year and it helps a ton but I’m thinking the oil is the step I’m missing. Thanks!
Great tip, Amy! Thanks so much for commenting!
Why not have someone replace the rollers?
I saw your other comment, and deleted it because plugging businesses via comments is spammy and not allowed. It’s honestly up to the owner on whether they plan to keep the door or just need a quick fix like this post is written for. Hiring someone to replace the rollers is obviously going to be more costly (or if choosing not to hire and DIY the replacement — also pricier than my fix). For me, this is a sliding glass door that’s super old and not worth sinking money into, and just isn’t worth that time or energy. But 5 minutes? Heck yeah!