Cleaning the walls might not even be on your list of cleaning tasks, but it’s something that can make your home seem cleaner and fresher right away. When you know how to clean walls, the only real investment is time.
Before you go near the walls with water or any type of cleaning product, you need to determine what type of paint finish is on the walls. If you did the painting, this will be simpler than if a previous owner did. Whether you’re doing.
A basic cleaning or trying to remove a stain, the type of paint will determine how you go about it because certain finishes stand up to cleaning better than others. Semi-gloss and high-gloss enamel paints are the most durable and can easily be washed. Latex paints that have a flat, satin, or eggshell finish require more care because they can be damaged or rubbed off if you use something very abrasive.
How to Tell What Type of Paint is on the Wall
Gloss and semi-gloss
Paints with a gloss or semi-gloss finish are the most durable, which is why they are typically used for trims and high-use spots – primarily kitchens and bathrooms. When cleaning walls with a gloss or-semi gloss finish, you can use detergent or a household degreaser that’s mild. It’s also ok to gently scrub these surfaces, but be sure you use a sp0onge and nothing abrasive to avoid scratching the surface.
Flat, satin, and eggshell
These finishes look great but to keep them looking pristine, you need to proceed with caution when looking to how to clean painted walls. These can be marred or damages easily don’t use strong chemicals or degreasers. A soft, damp sponge and some mild detergent should be enough to keep these surfaces clean. Also, don’t scrub – you could easily strip off some of the paint surface.
Latex and oil
Most interior paints are going to be latex-based and you can clean them as outlined below. For oil paint, the process is similar but always use a mild detergent and never vinegar. This is because the acid can make the finish look dull. You can, however, use some baking soda to help take care of any grimier spots.
Supplies for Cleaning Painted Walls
The best way to clean painted walls does not require any specialty products and the list of necessities is probably already in your cleaning cabinet. Don’t use anything abrasive or products that contain ammonia supplies are mild enough to use on most wall treatments while still getting the job done.
- Liquid hand or dish soap
- Soft cloths or rags
- Tack cloth
- Two buckets
- Stain remover
- Vacuum with dust brush attachment
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Foam craft brush
How to Clean Painted Walls
Regularly cleaning the walls not only removes dust, dirt, scuffs and splatters, but it also preserves the paint job. Even better, it gives your home an overall clean, fresh appearance. Basic cleaning of the walls does not require any huge effort or major process. Most of the time, going over the walls with your vacuum’s dust brush attachment and wiping the wall with a damp sponge is enough to clean and refresh the surface. At the bottom of the wall, grab the foam craft brush and use it to dislodge any dust build-up from the molding before you start washing down the wall.
If the walls are a little dirtier – which can be common in places like the kitchen where grease particles are in the air – mix a mild detergent into the water before wiping them down.
Fur truly dirty or grimy walls, you’ll need to take things to the next level: Mix up a solution that contains 1 cup of ammonia, 1/2 a cup of vinegar, a 1/4 cup of baking soda and one gallon of warm water. Pour this into a spray bottle and apply it to the wall before gently scrubbing it down.
How to Remove Stubborn Stains
Before you undertake a stain-removal project, a little preparation can make the job less messy.
- Protect the floor. Cover the floor with newspaper or towels to soak up any drips. If the floor is carpeted you might want to consider putting down some plastic under the towels if it’s a heavy-duty cleaning job.
- Wear rubber gloves. Having dirty water run down your arms feels pretty yucky so you can prevent that by wearing rubber gloves while you wash the walls.
When you’re all set, make a baking soda paste: About a half cup of baking soda and an ounce of water should do the trick. Before you start trying to remove the stains, test the soda mixture on a small part of the wall where it won’t show. Let the surface dry and if it still looks good and did not develop a water stain, you can get to work. If not, you’re better off giving the walls a fresh coat of paint or calling in some cleaning professionals.
If the wall is marred by scuffs, pencil or crayon marks, or isolated fingerprints, an eraser sponge can take speedy care of those. Just make sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot first!
The general rule for washing walls is much like cleaning windows or anything vertical for that matter: Start at the top and work your way down, working in sections. Use the sponge to apply the baking soda mixture to the stained area, working in a circular motion. Don’t scrub too hard because you don’t want to damage the paint finish. Wipe away the soil and the baking soda with a clean sponge or cloth.
Another option for dealing with stains is to use hydrogen peroxide. Just add a little to the rag that was dampened with soapy water and hold it onto the stain for up to five minutes to see if you can remove the discoloration.
If your problem area is in the kitchen and involves grease, baking soda may not be enough. If that’s the case, you’ll need to buy a commercial cleaning product that contains a degreaser. Just follow the instruction on the particular brand that you buy. Some people swear by the technique of using paper towels and an iron to remove grease stains from the wall. Try putting the paper towel over the grease and iron it at low heat so the grease absorbs into the towel. It shouldn’t take much more than a minute.
How to Clean Wood Walls
The advice for how to clean walls that are wood is just a bit different from painted walls. You can always use a commercial cleaner made for wood, or you can mix up your own: Just stir up a cup of water with a 1/2 cup of mineral oil and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar. They add a little lemon oil – about a dozen drops. Use a soft cloth to clean the surface, always working with the grain of the wood. If you use this homemade cleaner, you don’t have to rinse the walls because the oils will help condition the wood. For occasional spot cleaning, just use a little lemon oil on a soft cloth.
How to Clean Brick or Concrete Walls
Cleaning brick or concrete walls can be a bit of a pain because of the uneven texture. That said, there are a few tips that can make your work a little easier and more effective. First, be sure to vacuum the walls with the brush attachment to remove any dust and loose debris. Next, mix up a homemade cleaner that will really work: Equal parts liquid dish soap and salt. A cup of each should make plenty for most jobs.
Remember that brick and stone are absorbent and you don’t want the wall to soak up the soap. Before you start scrubbing spray the wall with some water –a regular spray bottle will do the trick. This helps keep the soap and salt on the surface where you need it. Grab a clean cloth and use the paste to gently scrub the surface. Be sure to work in sections no larger than three feet by three feet. Let the mixture sit on the wall for about 10 minutes and then remove it from the wall with a clean, wet cloth. After the wall dries, use the vacuum and brush attachment to suck up the remaining paste.
Approach this job with care! If you’re just dusting or wiping the surface, it’s probably fine, but for anything more involved, checking the manufacturer’s instructions is critical. You don’t want to remove the stain but destroy the wallpaper. If you have no idea who the manufacturer is, try consulting your local wallpaper supplier before looking at how to clean the walls. If the paper is old, it’s likely uncoated and there’s not much you can do about major grime or stains except replace the wallpaper.
When it comes to cleaning walls that are finished with wallpaper, avoid anything abrasive, and that means sponges and cloths as well as cleaning products. You might be able to remove marks and fingerprints by using a gum eraser from the art supply store. Just remember to be gentle. Even papers that are advertised as scrubbable should be treated carefully. Start with a damp — not super wet — sponge or cloth and make sure to dry the surface.
A Few Random Tips
- Let freshly painted walls dry for at least two weeks before washing.
- Use clear soaps when possible and avoid colored soaps and sponges because they could potentially stain the surface.
- If possible, wash walls on a day when you can open the windows and speed the drying process.
- Take care of scuffs and spots as soon as possible. Gently roll or feather the area with a small amount of touch-up paint and let dry.
Prevention is Worth the Effort
As usual, regular upkeep will help avoid major cleaning sessions later. The easiest way is to keep. Dirt from building up, so be sure to regularly dust and clean any high-touch areas as well as busy traffic spots in the home. This is even more critical if the household has pets and children!
It may seem like a bother, but regular cleaning of walls will help prolong your paint job and keep the room looking as fresh and lovely as it did when you first painted it!