How to Clean a Wall Before Painting

Cleaning the walls before painting is one of the most critical steps to a good paint job. 

If you don’t clean the walls, you’ll see dust trapped under your fresh paint, and your paint might not adhere.

How to Clean a Wall Before Painting

If you’re gearing up for a new paint color, cleaning the walls before painting is simple and won’t take much time. Here’s what to do.

How to Clean a Wall Before Painting: Step by Step

Before cleaning your walls, remove all pictures, mirrors, and other decor. Also, take down curtains and pull furniture out of the way.

If you’re wondering what to use to clean your wall before painting, just use plain water. Unless your wall is filthy or has sticky residue, dusting and then wiping with water is sufficient.

Here’s what you’ll need to clean the wall before painting:

  • Duster or vacuum with hose attachment
  • Soft sponge
  • Towel
  • Water

Step 1: Dust the Walls

Dust the entire wall using a vacuum with a hose attachment or a handheld duster. Pay special attention to corners where cobwebs develop. Dust from top to bottom.

Step 2: Wash the Walls

Dampen a soft sponge with water and wash the walls starting in one corner of the room and making your way around. Wash the walls from top to bottom. Rewet and rinse out your sponge as needed. It should be damp but never soaking wet.

Add a little dish soap to your sponge if you have a sticky spot on the wall or an area that won’t come clean. Rinse the sponge well afterward.

Step 3: Let the Wall Dry and Then Paint

Wipe down all the walls with a towel to soak up excess moisture. Then wait until the wall is fully dry before you paint.

Drying can take between 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your home’s temperature, humidity level, and how wet you got the wall.

What Homemade Solutions Can I Use to Wash My Walls Before Painting?

In most cases, water is all you need to clean your walls before painting. But if you want to ensure they’re extra clean or are working in a room with a lot of dirt or wall residue, you can try one of these options.

  • Clean your walls with vinegar and water. Make a solution of 3 cups of water to 1 cup of white distilled vinegar. Place it in a spray bottle. After dusting, spray your wall and wipe—work from top to bottom.
  • Clean your walls with dish soap and water. Put warm water in a bucket or sink and add a few drops of dish soap until suds form. Dip a sponge in the mixture and wipe the wall. Follow up with a rag dampened in water only to rinse the soap.
  • Clean your walls with a mild all-purpose cleaner. If you have an all-purpose cleaning spray from Method or Mrs. Meyers (or any other gentle brand), you can use it to clean your walls before painting. 

No matter the solution you use, ensure there’s no leftover residue from the cleaner on your walls. (Another reason why plain water is best.) Also, allow the walls to dry before painting.