If you want to know how to clean walls, you’re not alone. Learning how to clean your walls will help you keep your home fresh and clean, and avoid the accumulation of dust and dirt that can make your home look dull and tired, or even trigger asthma and allergy attacks. Your walls might not look like a dust-trap, but they are! Adding cleaning your walls to your regular household routine can make a big difference to your home, and at Pro Housekeepers, we know a trick or two about how to clean dirty walls, and what to use to clean walls in no time. (And don’t worry, you don’t need any specialist wall cleaning tools!)
How to clean walls fast
Nobody wants to spend all day cleaning their walls, but getting such a large area cleaned fast can be tricky. How to wash walls fast depends in part on the finish of the walls. Textured walls, and walls with lots of shelves, paintings, and other decorations will take longer to clean. The below method is by far the fastest, but it’s best for flat or knockdown wall finishes. For textured or papered walls, see some of the better tips below.
Step 1: Clear the walls by removing paintings, clocks, and decorations, and emptying shelves
Step 2: If your walls are very dusty, use a feather duster to wipe away the excess
Step 3: Apply a fine mist of multipurpose cleaner to the walls — take care not to get the walls too wet
Step 4: Use a mop to wash the walls
Using a mop to clean your walls might sound crazy, but it really is the best tool for the job. You can even purchase microfiber wall mops to get the job done faster! Using a flat mop instead of a traditional string mop is preferable, as it will cover a wider area of the wall with each pass, but in a pinch any mop will do. Our Pros swear by this method, and say it’s the best way to clean walls when moving out of a property, or as part of a routine annual clean.
Pro Tip: Now your walls are clean, learn how to clean baseboards too!
How to clean walls without streaks
A common complaint after cleaning walls is finding that the cleaning method left streaks behind. Painted walls, especially those with flat or satin paints, often develop streaky patterns when they dry. However there are several ways of avoiding creating streaks when cleaning walls.
- Dust your walls before cleaning
Many streaks are simply caused by the dirt that was already on the walls. Mixed with a wall cleaner spray, this dirt turns mud-like, and cleaning only moves it around, leaving streaks behind.
- Don’t get walls too wet
If your cleaning solution drips or runs down the wall, it will create streaks as it dries. Use a spray bottle to apply cleaner as a fine mist, and don’t overdo it.
- Avoid scrubbing too hard
Scrubbing too hard can start to remove paint, leaving streaks behind that can only be fixed by repainting the wall. You shouldn’t need to do more than glide your cleaner over the wall to remove most dust and dirt.
- Use a gentle cleaning solution
Walls rarely require powerful detergents to get them clean, and the harsher the cleaner you use, the more chance it will affect the paint. Instead use a gentle, all-purpose cleaner.
How to clean brick walls
Not all walls have a painted finish. Exposed brick can be tricky to clean because dirt gets trapped in all the nooks and crannies. Whether you’re cleaning your interior brick fire surround, or the brick wall around your deck, here’s how to do it right.
For small areas
- Make a paste from baking soda and water, and apply it to the bricks
- Let sit for 10 minutes
- Clean the wall using a nylon bristled scrubbing brush (don’t be afraid to put your back into it!)
- Rinse the bricks with clean water to remove the last of the paste
For large areas
- Make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water and apply to wall
- Let sit for 10 minutes
- Use a firm bristled broom to scrub down the wall
- Wash the wall with clean water
How to clean concrete walls
Concrete walls are tough, but still need to be cleaned occasionally. Here’s how:
Step 1: Remove excess dust and dirt with a feather duster (indoor) or spray down with water (outdoor)
Step 2: Add a few drops of non-ammonia dish soap to a 1 gallon bucket of hot water
Step 3: Use a microfiber cloth or mop to wash the walls with the soapy water, taking care not to get the wall too wet
Step 4: For stained walls, use a firm bristled brush to scrub away marks
Step 5: Wash down the wall with clean water
How to clean bathroom walls
Bathroom walls can be prone to water marks, dust streaks, and even mold because of the high humidity environment. While you don’t need to use any different tools or methods to clean your bathroom walls, there are steps you can take to reduce the accumulation of dirt and dampness.
- Wipe down the walls after you bathe or shower
Running a large, dry sponge over your bathroom walls after you get out of the shower can reduce condensation and help prevent mold.
- Use a fungicidal cleaner
If condensation is a problem, you can prevent mold before it has a chance to flourish by using a fungicidal cleaner. These cleaners leave a residue on walls that makes it harder for mold to grow.
- Use the extractor fan, or leave the door open
Air circulation is vital for drying excess water and keeping your walls clean. Always use the extractor fan during and after bathing, or leave the bathroom door open to allow moisture to evaporate rapidly.
How to clean ceramic tile shower walls
Ceramic tiles are much more resistant to water damage, which makes them an ideal choice for bathrooms. When choosing a cleaner, avoid anything too acidic, such as vinegar. It can eat through the protective surface of the tile and cause damage. Use a bathroom cleaner designed for tiles, or a few drops of dish soap in a gallon of hot water.
To keep your grout gleaming, make a paste from ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, and scrub the grout using an old toothbrush.
How to clean mold off walls
If you’ve got mold on your bathroom walls, you can still clean them and prevent it from coming back. Most varieties are relatively benign, although using a mask or respirator is always good practice when cleaning mold. Mold is a fungus that loves damp places, so try to keep your walls dry to prevent it from taking hold or returning.
Note: How to clean black mold off walls
Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum a.k.a. stachybotrys atra) can be dangerous in high quantities. If you’re unsure what type of mold you’re dealing with, or your mold damage is extensive, always call in a professional.
Pro Tip: The EPA recommends only removing mold yourself if it covers an area less than 10 square feet.
If the mold in your home is safe to handle yourself, you can use many household cleaners to kill it, including bleach, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or fungicidal solutions.
Step 1: Make a mixture of 1 part bleach, 3 parts water, and soak the mold using a spray bottle
Step 2: Let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes
Step 3: Remove the mold using a scrubbing brush
Step 4: Make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, and spray the area thoroughly
Step 5: Allow the wall to air dry
Although other cleaning tips say to avoid getting walls too wet, in order to kill mold effectively you need to soak it in cleaning solution. Even if the wall ends up damaged and a section needs to be replaced, it’s still better to completely remove all traces of mold.
Pro Tip: Learn more about how to clean and get rid of mold from your home
How to clean apartment walls
While your apartment walls will have the same finish as any other home, you should keep your neighbors in mind. Avoid getting the walls too wet, and mop up any spilled water immediately to prevent it causing water damage to the ceiling below. If you’re mopping your walls and you’re worried about spills and splashes, put down some old towels to absorb any runoff.
How to clean walls without removing paint
The most important consideration for how to remove stains from painted walls is protecting the finish of the paint itself. There are two main reasons paint can get damaged, either it gets too wet, or you scrub too hard. Both of these are completely avoidable, although you might need a little extra time to treat stubborn stains as a result.
Always wring out any cloth or sponge before applying it to walls for cleaning. You want the wall to be just barely damp, not wet. If you see drops running down the wall, you’ve applied too much. Pause, and use a dry cloth to absorb the excess before continuing with less wall cleaning solution.
Some paints, particularly dark colors, will bleed a little onto your cloth or sponge as you’re cleaning, and this can make it harder to tell if the paint is running. If in doubt, spot-check an inconspicuous area first.
How to clean painted walls
Finding the best cleaner for painted walls depends on the type of paint and finish used on your walls. While mopping walls is effective for most flat surfaces, there are times you’ll want to take a different approach to get the best results and avoid causing damage.
How to clean white walls
White walls can show dirt marks far faster than other colors, so often need to be cleaned more regularly. Check high touch points such as next to stairs or corners, and you’ll soon see where grubby fingers have been! If mopping your white walls doesn’t remove the dirt, learn how to clean scuff marks off walls with baking soda.
Step 1: Dampen a microfiber cloth with a little clean water
Step 2: Dip the cloth into baking soda
Step 3: Use the cloth to clean the wall using an even, circular motion
Step 4: Wipe away any residue and dry the wall thoroughly
Remember not to use too much pressure when cleaning the wall, to prevent removing any paint.
How to clean walls with flat paint
Flat or matte paint finishes can show more marks and streaks post-cleaning than high gloss paint. Scrubbing flat paints too hard will damage the finish, leaving patchy spots behind. The good news is, if you notice a mark straightaway, you can often clean it with plain water using a sponge. If the mark proves more stubborn, give vinegar a try.
Step 1: Dampen a sponge with white vinegar
Step 2: Gently apply the vinegar to the wall
Step 3: Use a circular motion to lift the stain
Step 4: Wipe the wall down with clean water
Step 5: Dry the wall thoroughly
How to clean latex painted walls
Latex paint is one of the easier surfaces to clean, because the paint is designed to be washable. However that doesn’t mean you can scrub too hard, because you’ll still damage the finish. Instead you can rely on stronger cleaning solutions to get the job done.
Step 1: Add a few drops of dish soap to hot water
Step 2: Apply the soapy water to the wall with a sponge or cloth
Step 3: Gently rub the wall to lift the stain
Step 4: Wash down the wall with plain water and dry thoroughly
If dish soap doesn’t cut it, you can use a vegetable oil-based cleaner such as Murphy Oil Soap.
How to clean oil-based painted walls
Oil-based paint responds well to dish soap or vinegar-based cleaning solutions. Use the tips above and your walls should soon be spotless! Take care not to use ammonia-based cleaners with oil-based paint, as they can damage the finish.
How to clean textured walls
It’s important to know how to clean wall stains from textured walls. Not only do these walls attract and hold more dirt, but you risk damaging the texture pattern when you clean them. Regular dusting is important to keep textured walls looking bright. For more stubborn dust and dirt, use the bristled brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Spot-clean grubby marks using a sponge dipped in an all-purpose cleaner.
Pro Tip: Got textured ceilings as well? Learn how to clean a popcorn ceiling now.
|What is the best thing to wash walls with?|
|WALL FINISH||BEST CLEANING SOLUTION|
|Flat or matte paint||White vinegar or plain water|
|Glossy paint||All-purpose cleaner or dish soap and water|
|White paint||Baking soda and water|
|Latex paint||Dish soap and water, or vegetable oil-based cleaner|
|Oil-based paint||White vinegar or dish soap and water|
|Brick walls||Baking soda or white vinegar and water|
|Concrete walls||Non-ammonia dish soap and water|
How to clean walls before painting
If you’re not worried about damaging the finish of a painted wall, but priming a wall for a new coat of paint, you can be a little more aggressive with your cleaning methods. It’s important to clean walls thoroughly before painting to prevent dust and dirt from getting stuck in the paint and ruining the finish. You can also follow these instructions to clean walls after removing wallpaper.
What to wash walls with before painting
The best solution for cleaning walls is plain warm water. To clean grease off kitchen walls, add a few drops of dish soap to cut through any accumulation. Simply dampen a sponge with your chosen cleaner and start scrubbing. The water will attract dirt, preventing it from ruining your new paint.
How to clean crayon off walls
Kids love to turn walls into crayon canvases! The good news is, it comes off pretty easily. Use an old toothbrush dipped in white vinegar to scrub crayon masterpieces away. Alternatively, you can use a wall stain remover such as a Magic Eraser. Just be careful to only use it lightly to prevent damaging the paint.
How to clean smoke off walls
Whether you’re dealing with cigarette smoke discoloration, or you need to know how to clean fire smoke off walls, our Pros have the answers.
Cigarette smoke can be cleaned using the following mixture:
- ½ cup ammonia
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 gallon hot water
Spot-check this mixture first, because it can damage some paint finishes. You can always omit the ammonia for oil-based paint walls, although it may not clean as effectively.
To clean soot off walls, first vacuum up as much loose soot as possible, then use a specialist solution such as Trisodium phosphate (TSP). TSP is an amazing cleaner, but precautions need to be taken when handling it. Always wear long sleeves, closed-toe shoes, and appropriate gloves, eye, and respiratory protection. Follow the instructions on the container for best use practices.
Pro Tip: Had a fire? Check out everything you need to know about post-construction cleaning
Cleaning your walls might not be something you consider often, but dusting them frequently and giving them a more intensive clean a couple of times a year can make a big difference to your home.