How To Clean Painted Walls: Genius Ideas For DIY Painters

Most people know how to clean painted walls without removing paint. However, most aren’t aware of the different methods available. After you’ve finished a home interior paint job, it’s to be expected that your walls will need to be cleaned.

How To Clean Painted WallsView in gallery

Nobody enjoys wasting time or money, but that’s what happens if you don’t know how to clean your walls after you’ve painted them. If you need a few cleaning ideas, or you don’t know how to clean a painted wall, we can help.


Before you hit your walls with water or a cleaning product, determine what type of paint finish is on the walls. With stain removal, for example, the type of paint on your walls will dictate how you should clean them.   

What Type Of Paint Is On Your Wall?

Before you start cleaning walls, you need to know more about their surfaces. If you apply the wrong cleaning chemicals, you could permanently damage your walls. You don’t want to spend the time and money to re-paint your walls.

Gloss Paint And Semi Gloss Paint

How to Tell What Type of Paint is on the Wall

Semi and high gloss enamel paints are durable, so walls covered with either paint can be cleaned easily. However, with latex paint, which has a satin or eggshell finish, you need to be careful as you could damage your wall surfaces.

People use either paint for trims and high traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms. When cleaning walls that are covered with a gloss or semi gloss finish, use detergent or a mild degreaser with a soft brush attachment. You can also hit your kitchen walls a bit harder, but gently scrub the walls in circular motions.

The best way is to scrub your walls to remove watermarks, for example. You can use a sp0nge for surfaces that are a bit hardier but don’t use harsh chemicals as they will damage your surfaces.

Flat, Satin, And Eggshell Finishes

Eggshell finishes, for example, look great. To keep your walls looking pristine, use caution when cleaning. The walls can be marred or damaged easily, so avoid harsh chemicals or degreasers.

A soft, damp sponge, clear water, and mild detergent should be enough to keep your wall surfaces clean. One thing to remember is how you shouldn’t scrub hard as it would strip your paint surfaces.

Latex Paint And Oil Paint 

Most interior paint is latex. For oil based paint, the cleaning process is similar. You should use a mild detergent and warm water. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s not white vinegar. This is because the acid can make the finish look dull. You can, however, use baking soda to spot treat dirtier areas. 

Cleaning Supplies

When cleaning your walls at home, you won’t need special or heavy duty chemicals. Remember, you’re cleaning the walls inside your home, not the interior of a nuclear waste dump or trash barge. 

  • Liquid hand or dish soap
  • Magic eraser
  • Water
  • Soft cloths or rags
  • Tack cloth
  • Two buckets
  • Stain remover
  • Vacuum with a dust brush attachment
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Foam craft brush
  • Microfiber cloth

Cleaning Painted Walls

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Regularly cleaning your walls not only removes dust, dirt, shoe scuffs, and mud splatters but also preserves the paint. The goal is for your home to maintain a clean and fresh appearance, even in your high traffic areas.

Before you start cleaning, make sure you cover all light switches and electrical outlets on your wall. You don’t want to risk getting water on them. Also, safeguard your door frames against water damage. Door frames are metal, and water would cause them to rust. 

Kitchen Walls

If you don’t know how to clean grease off painted walls, you’ll have happy to know that it isn’t hard. Kitchen walls attract thicker grime and stains. In this situation, use a foam craft brush to remove grease stains. You can do the same when cleaning molding before you wash your walls. For dirtier surfaces, 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 quarter 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 the next section.

If you want to remove stains on your walls with a vacuum cleaner dust brush, after you’re done, wipe the surfaces with a damp sponge. This method is about as heavy duty as you’ll ever need to get. For the bottom section of walls, you may need to spot clean stains.

How To Remove Stubborn Wall Stains

The goal is to learn how to clean walls without ruining paint. Before you undertake a stain removal project, a little preparation can make the job less messy.

  • Protect the floor. The best way to cover your floor space is with newspapers or a towel. You want to protect your carpet while you clean your walls.
  • Wear rubber gloves. There isn’t a rule that says your hands need to get dirty when cleaning your walls.  

Baking Soda Paste

To make this DIY paste, measure a half cup of soda mix it with an ounce of water. Test the 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 a cleaning professional.

When cleaning a wall marred by shoe scuffs, pencil or crayon marks, an eraser marker or soft sponge offers easy relief. You can spot clean specific stains. Start at the top and work your way down, working in sections.

Use the sponge to apply the mixture to the stained area in a circular motion. Don’t scrub too hard in the same area because you don’t want to damage the paint finish. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another option for dealing with stains is to use hydrogen peroxide. Add a little to the rag that was dampened with soapy water. Hold it onto the stain for five minutes and see if it tackles the discoloration.

If you have a grease problem, baking soda may not be enough. If that’s the case, you’ll need a commercial cleaning product that contains a degreaser.

Rubbing Alcohol

Paper towels and rubbing alcohol is another effective DIY solution. If you don’t want to use rubbing alcohol, then use an iron to remove grease stains from your walls. Try putting the paper towel over the grease and iron it at low heat so the grease absorbs into the towel. 

How To Clean Wood Walls

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The advice for how to clean walls that are wood is just a bit different from painted walls. You can use a commercial cleaner made for wood, or you can mix up your own: Just stir up a cup of water with a half 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 wall 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.     

Cleaning Brick Or Concrete Walls

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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 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. You don’t want the wall to soak up the soap. Before you begin scrubbing spray the wall with water. You can use a regular spray bottle.

This helps keep the soap and salt on the surface where you need them. Use a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth with a small amount of paste, applying it gently on your surfaces. 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.

Got Wallpaper?

If you don’t know who the wallpaper manufacturer is, consult with your local supplier before cleaning the stains on your walls. If the paper is old, it’s uncoated, and there won’t be much you could do about heavy grime or stains except replace your wallpaper.

Extra Cleaning Tips

  • Allow fresh painted walls to dry for two weeks before cleaning.
  • Use clear soaps when possible and avoid colored soaps and sponges because they could stain the surface.
  • Wash walls on a day when you can open windows. This will help your walls dry faster.
  • 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Is The Best Thing To Wash Walls And Ceilings?

When washing a flat ceiling, fill a plastic spray bottle with one cup of warm water, four drops of liquid dish detergent, and two tablespoons of white vinegar. Shake the bottle so the mixture is balanced. 

Spray the dirty area first and then use a damp paint roller or microfiber mop to clean the affected area. Cover the roller with a clean white cloth dipped in water and dab the area again to remove soapy residue.

How Often Should You Clean The Walls In Your House?

In homes with allergies, you may need to clean your walls three to four times per month. If you have pets and small children, you may need to clean your walls more than that. 

Can I Use A Mop To Clean Walls?

Choose a mop with a large mop head for cleaning walls and ceilings. It allows you to cover larger areas, making the job faster and more efficient.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Professional To Clean Interior Walls?

Professional wall cleaning typically ranges between $170 and $480, though it can be as low as $80 or as high as $900. Factors such as the size of your walls and the level of buildup and stubborn spots will affect the overall cost. 

If you wanted to spend money, you could have your walls steam cleaned. If your walls are painted with oil based paints, this might be your best option. If you chose this path, you could expect to spend roughly $540 to clean 1,900 square feet of wall space.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean A Ceiling?

The national average cost for cleaning a drop ceiling is between $70 and $130, with most people paying around $95 to clean 130 square feet of space.

How To Clean Painted Walls Conclusion

When tackling stains on painted walls, your cleaning solution is the most important thing to consider. If you use harsh chemicals to clean stubborn stains or an inconspicuous area, you could cause permanent damage. As a reminder, and just as it is when cleaning all surfaces, the goal is to make them better, not worse.

For best results when cleaning stains on your walls, the first thing you should do is determine the type of paint that covers your walls. One would think that common sense prevails in such situations, but many people overlook this first step. You shouldn’t aspire to be that person who is only capable of learning things the hard way.

Think of a painted wall in your home as a sacred space. Rarely will you ever need anything stronger than a DIY water mixture.

When applying a cleaning substance to a painted wall, gently rub the wall in a circular motion. There isn’t much more to it than that. Clean walls are a sign of good character, well, at least that’s what you want your house guests to think.