How to Clean White Walls Without Removing Paint

If you’re wondering how to clean white walls, you’re not alone. While white paint makes a room look bigger and freshens a space, it also shows dirt more than any other color.

The level of effort it will take to clean your walls depends on your paint sheen and how scuffed the walls are. Glossy paint sheens are easy to clean without removing paint, while flat finishes are more difficult.

Clean white walls

Here’s the best method for cleaning your white walls.

Supplies You Need to Clean a White Wall

If you’re ready to clean your walls, gather up the following supplies:

  • A duster or microfiber mop with a clean pad
  • A bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Several microfiber cloths
  • A soft sponge
  • Magic Eraser

Before You Start: What’s Your Paint Sheen?

A paint sheen measures how much light a paint reflects. For example, a semi-gloss paint sheen reflects a lot of light and feels smooth to the touch. Its gloss content helps create a hard barrier, which is easy to clean. On the other hand, flat paint reflects very little light, and while it’s excellent at masking a wall’s imperfections, it doesn’t hold up well to washings.

While you can use any paint sheen in any room, kitchens and bathrooms often have semi-gloss or satin sheens, while living rooms and bedrooms often have matte or flat paint.

How to Clean a White Wall: Step by Step

Before you start cleaning, remove artwork from the wall and furniture out of the way. Then, follow these steps:

Step 1: Dust the Walls

Dusting is the first step to cleaning any wall. If you try to wash a wall without dusting, you’ll end up with streaks.

Start by knocking down cobwebs with your duster or microfiber mop. Then dust the walls from top to bottom, covering the entire room.

Step 2: Wash and Dry the Walls

With the dust gone, it’s time to wash. 

  • For semi-gloss and satin paint sheens – Fill a bucket with a gallon of water and a tablespoon of dish soap, then mix.
  • For flat and eggshell paint sheens – Use water only.

Dip your microfiber cloth in the solution and work in small sections from top to bottom. Use light circular motions to prevent paint from coming off the wall. 

If you’re cleaning a satin or semi-gloss finish, go back over your section with a rag dipped in water only. Then dry the area you’ve cleaned with a fresh microfiber cloth.

Step 3: Treat Stains and Scuffs

With your walls washed, you can move on to treating stains. Before doing so, test your method of choice in an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t damage the paint.

Treat grease stains and built-up dirt. Dampen a sponge, add a squirt of dish soap, and lather. Rub the sponge on the wall in circular motions until the stain is lifted. Rinse with a microfiber cloth dipped in water and dry the area with a fresh towel.

Remove scuff marks. Dampen a Magic Eraser and use light, even strokes on the scuff marks. Avoid pressing too hard, or it will remove your paint. 

Get crayon marks off the wall – Try to remove crayon marks with a sponge and dish soap. A Magic Eraser is the next best option. 

Step 4: Hang Items Back on the Wall

After the wall is dry, you can put artwork and photos in place and move your furniture back to where it belongs. 

How Often Should You Clean White Walls?

If you want to keep your white walls white, treat stains and scuff marks as they arise. Also, keep your ceilings and walls dusted – dust every couple of months or more if needed. If your curtains accumulate dirt and touch your walls, clean them every 4-6 months to prevent transfer.

Depending on your household’s dust levels and activity, you can aim to wash your walls with soap or water every 3-6 months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can I clean white walls with vinegar?

If your white walls have a semi-gloss of satin finish, you can use vinegar to clean and deodorize them. To do this, mix a gallon of water with three tablespoons of white distilled vinegar. Test the mixture in an inconspicuous area. If there’s no adverse reaction, use a microfiber cloth dipped in the solution to wash the walls from top to bottom. Dry the walls as you go.

Can I clean white walls with bleach?

A mix of dish soap and water is the best white wall cleaner. If you have mold on your walls and want to treat it with bleach, dilute it first and test it in an inconspicuous area. Also, be wary of using bleach on matte paint since it damages easily.

Can I clean white walls with Pine-Sol?

You can wash walls with Pine-Sol but do a spot-test first. If it doesn’t damage the wall, mix ¼ cup of PineSol with 1 gallon of water. Then, wipe down the walls from top to bottom, rinse with a rag soaked in water only, and dry. 

How do you clean white walls with baking soda?

If you’re cleaning walls, save the baking soda for stains. You can mix baking soda with water until it forms a paste. Then take the paste and rub it on your wall using light circular motions. When finished, rinse the baking soda with water and dry the wall. Since baking soda is mildly abrasive, it cleans stuck-on food and dirt well.

Can I clean my walls with Dawn Powerwash?

While cleaning an entire wall with Dawn Powerwash is unnecessary, you can use it to treat stains on semi-gloss and satin walls. To do this, spray it on the wall, work it into the stain using circular motions, rinse it off, and dry the area.

Final Thoughts

While white walls brighten up a space, they also show dirt more than any other color. The best way to prevent your white walls from getting dirty is to dust them at least a few times per year, wash your curtains, and deal with stains as they crop up.

You can use a gentle mixture of dish soap and water to clean most walls. (Or water only if you have a flat paint sheen.) You’ll need a touch-up coat of paint for stains that won’t budge.