The title of this article asks a trick question. It implies that you currently clean your walls, except for that one pesky part you keep forgetting about. But the truth is, most people don’t clean their walls at all. Walls are easy to overlook. They rarely attract attention to themselves. They basically just stand there, holding up the ceiling, a blank canvas for your paintings and other decor.
But your walls get as dirty as any other area of your house. They get touched by pets and grimy hands. Dead skin cells, dust, hair, and all kinds of icky particles float through the air and stick to them. And that’s in a normal room — don’t get us started on what happens in the bathroom! Suffice to say, if you care about cleanliness, it’s important to learn how to clean your walls once in a while.
The good news is, washing your walls is easy. Now that you know why you need to do it, read on to learn how!
How To Clean Painted Walls
1. Make Your Wall Cleaner
- 2 teaspoons of dish soap
- 1 gallon of water
The amount of wall cleaner you’ll need will vary according to how dirty your walls are, and how many rooms you plan to clean. Feel free to adjust the recipe as needed and make more or less wall cleaner as the job demands.
2. Perform A Test
All paint is not created equal. Before you start cleaning your walls, you should always perform a test to see how much scrubbing your walls can handle without disturbing the paint. In general, gloss, semi-gloss, and enamel paints are more durable and will stand up to scrubbing better than flat and eggshell paints. Paint quality also make a difference.
Always perform your test in a little-seen area. The back of a closet is perfect because it’s usually obscured by coats and clothes. Give it a good scrub with the recipe for wall cleaner below to make sure you don’t end up disturbing your paint. You should also be sure to test any stain removers you plan to use.
If your paint did not hold up well during in your test area, mix your wall cleaner in a spray bottle instead of a bucket. In this situation, it would be better to spot clean your walls as gently as possible, rather than scrubbing the entire area and risking damage.
3. Prepare The Area
Remove your pictures from the wall and place the furniture far enough away from the wall to allow easy movement and access to the area.
4. Dust The Wall
Before you start washing your walls, you’ll want to make sure it’s free of dust, hair, and debris so you don’t end up smearing them around and making a bigger mess. A microfiber mop works perfectly because you can run it over the wall and easily use it to reach spider webs or particles that might be clinging near the ceiling at the top of the wall. If you don’t have a microfiber mop, you can use a feather duster, the brush attachment on your vacuum or even a microfiber cloth.
Tip: Don’t use a straw broom. The bristles may scratch your paint.
5. Lay Towels The Floor
Line the bottom of the wall with towels to catch any water or detergent that drips off the walls onto your floor. This simple step will save you from having to tackle a cleanup project later.
6. Remove Stains
Next, address any stains on the walls. Whether they were caused by crayons, pets, or droplets of spilled wine, you’ll want to remove these unsightly blights so you don’t spread them around.
To remove stains, use your homemade wall cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Microfibers are non-abrasive, but they are also strong. They won’t crumble, shed or leave lint behind. Don’t forget the baseboards. In most houses, they get dirtier than anywhere else on your wall due to their proximity to the floor.
Tip: There are formulas for dealing with extra difficult stains at the bottom of the article.
7. Clean Your Walls
Now you’re ready to wash your walls. If you’re using a bucket, be sure to wring the majority of the moisture out of your microfiber cloth. It should be damp, not saturated with liquid wall cleaner. Wipe your walls gently in a circular motion to remove dirt and grime.
8. Follow Up With A Dry Cloth
Once your walls are clean, follow up with a dry Microfiber cloth to gently absorb excess moisture.
How To Clean Wallpaper
Whether your entire room is covered in wallpaper or if it’s only limited to an accent wall, the steps for cleaning wallpaper are the same as a painted wall. Once again, be sure to perform a test beforehand. Take care not to over saturate the wallpaper and be particularly cautious around any areas where the wallpaper has begun to tear.
Spot cleaning the wall is best if you determine the wallpaper is delicate or prone to damage.
How To Remove Extra Difficult Stains From Your Wall
If you’re washing the walls in your kitchen, chances are you might encounter a few grease stains. If you can’t remove them with your wall cleaner, this formula should do the trick:
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup water
Shake well in a spray bottle and spot clean where needed.
If you have children, chances are they’ve taken a crayon or two and decorated the wall. And as much as you want to encourage your child’s creativity, there are limits. The crayon has to go. The easiest way to remove crayon from your walls is with a gum eraser. As always, try it in a test area first.
The best remedy for removing ballpoint ink from your wall is a little bit of solvent, such as nail polish remover.
- ½ cup of water
- ½ cup of isopropyl alcohol
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and mist over the area. Wipe gently with a microfiber cloth to remove the permanent marker stains from the wall.
If you have bio stains on your walls, such as blood, urine, or vomit, whether from humans or pets, they can generally be removed with a Magic Eraser. When scrubbing your wall of these stains, be sure to wear rubber gloves — bio stains may contain pathogens.
- 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup of water
Shake ingredients together in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the wall and let it sit a half hour before wiping the area clean with a damp microfiber cloth. Repeat if necessary.
If you have a wood fireplace or burn incense and candles on a regular basis, you may have ugly soot stains appear on your beautiful wall. The important thing to remember when dealing with these stains is to not use wall cleaner on a soot stain. It will just smear the black material over the wall and result in a bigger, dirtier mess than you had to begin with.
The best way to remove a soot stain is to use a dry, chemical sponge (also known as a soot cleaning sponge). These are different from the household sponges you use to scrub your bathtub, and are readily available from your local hardware store. Simply use the dry sponge to gently wipe away the soot. If residue remains, remove it a little dab of isopropyl alcohol.
If you have water stains on your walls, it’s important to determine where they’re coming from. Water stains could be an indication of a plumbing issue or roof leak. These situations could become very expensive if they aren’t fixed right away.
Once you’ve addressed the cause of the water stains and you’re sure they aren’t going to resurface you can clean them with the following stain remover.
- 1 cup bleach
- 1 cup water
Mix together in an empty spray bottle. As with any wall cleaner or stain remover, be sure to use the mixture in an out of the way test area first. Mist the area with your stain remover. Let it sit for a half hour, then return to wipe the area clean with a damp microfiber cloth. Repeat if necessary and dry the area when you’re finished.
Cleaning your walls is a big part of maintaining your house. In a typical home, we recommend adding it to your cleaning routine about once every six months, spot cleaning in between as necessary. However, if you have a wood fireplace or particularly active household, you may have to do it more often.
The important is making sure your walls are as bright, fresh, and hygienic as the rest of your house. Because every part of your home deserves to be beautiful.