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Cleaning painted walls should be part of your regular cleaning routine, just like you would vacuum your carpets and mop your floors. To most of us, cleaning walls is part of an annual routine; however, wall cleaning should be more frequent. Before you gather your cleaning supplies, you will need to learn how to clean painted walls. So, let’s find out how to do it, and we will also give you more information about getting the best results for stain removal below!
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Takeaways
- 2 How to Clean Painted Walls
- 3 Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Painted Walls
- 4 Mistakes That Should Be Avoided
- 5 Removing Stubborn Stains
- 6 Keeping Your Walls Clean Year Round
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- Different types of paint finishes will require different cleaning methods.
- Mild dish soap can be used as a universal cleaner for painted walls.
- Prioritize spot cleaning, as this will prevent stubborn stains from accumulating.
- Avoid cleaners with ammonia as these will break down latex paint and reduce its durability.
- Dust and grime buildup means that you should clean painted walls at least once a year.
How to Clean Painted Walls
Cleaning walls is a crucial part of keeping your home looking spotless. However, you should understand how to clean painted walls before you jump in and start scrubbing. To ensure that you get the best results, you will need the following supplies:
- Liquid dish soap
- Nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Microfiber cloths
Cleaning According to Paint Type
When cleaning painted walls, the first thing to consider is the finish. The amount of scrubbing required will depend on whether the surface is flat or glossy. This does not mean that you should pick up a piece of steel wool and start scrubbing away. Instead, use this as a guide to how much pressure you should use.
Types of Paint Finishes
Below are the different paint finishes you will encounter. Before you read up on how to wash painted walls, you should have a clear understanding of each one. Each paint finish should be treated differently when cleaning.
- High-gloss: This is considered to be the most reflective type of paint finish, and it is stain-resistant. It can withstand scrubbing while cleaning walls.
- Semi-gloss: This type of paint finish is more durable and has a higher gloss compared to satin finishes. Cleaning will not quickly wear down the surface of semi-gloss paint.
- Satin: Also known as eggshell paint, is shinier as well as more resilient than flat paint. This is where you would need to be mindful of the amount of pressure you are using while cleaning.
- Matte or flat: This paint finish is flat and powdery, and it does not reflect light. Because flat paint does not stand up well to rough cleaning and scrubbing, proceed with caution when washing walls with a matte or flat-painted finish.
It is important to understand that paints are also available in different types. The two most commonly used paints are oil and water-based paints. Oil-based paints produce a strong finish that is both robust and stain-resistant. This paint is commonly used on moldings and trim pieces. Water-based paints, also known as latex paint, dry quickly and may be washed with regular soap and warm water.
How to Clean Gloss and Semi-Gloss Finishes
Semi- and high-gloss paints provide a smooth, stain-resistant finish. Improved damage tolerance benefits kitchen walls, corridors, and high-traffic areas around the home.
Scuff marks and stubborn stains are usually wiped away without much effort or threat of damaging the paint.
While gloss and semi-gloss paints are durable, they will scratch if not cleaned with a soft sponge. Below are the steps you will need to follow if you would like to learn how to wash painted walls with this finish.
- Step one: Start by using a moist microfiber cloth or sponge to wipe down glossy wall surfaces with your water and dish soap solution. Dripping is less likely to damage the smoother paint finish, so you may apply a bit more cleaning if necessary.
- Step two: With a moist sponge, clean the surface of the walls from the top to the bottom. Keep any leaks away from electrical outlets as well as light switches.
- Step three: Dry any leftover cleanser on the walls using a dry towel. If there is any remaining soap residue on the walls, you can rinse them with plain water first, although this is typically unnecessary.
How to Clean Flat and Matte Finishes
Flatter coatings with a higher PVC absorb light and disguise faults nicely. Matte surfaces are often preferred in living rooms, bedrooms, and low-traffic spaces, but glossier eggshell as well as satin finishes are preferred in mud rooms, corridors, and high-traffic areas.
While matte paints are more difficult to clean compared to glossy paints, current products are more durable and adaptable. Even yet, a moderate approach is usually preferable. Particularly pigment-heavy finishes are more susceptible to degradation from strong agents and excessive dampness.
- Step one: Drop a clean, non-abrasive sponge into the cleaning solution. If your walls simply require a mild washing, you can get away with only using water. Wring off any excess water thoroughly, since you will only need a slightly moist sponge to avoid damage. The trick here is to properly wring out extra water, leaving the sponge or towel moderately damp.
- Step two: Wash down the wall, beginning at the top and then working your way down. As required, re-soak and rinse out your sponge. Applying too much force or scrubbing may cause some of the paint to rise.
- Step three: A clean microfiber cloth may be used to clean the wall. Because there is so little water on the surface of the walls, you might be able to skip this phase. Instead, open the doors and windows or put on a fan to allow them to dry naturally.
How to Clean Walls With Oil or Latex-Based Paint
Cleaning painted walls using a mild DIY detergent is safe irrespective of whether the paint is oil-based or latex-based. Oil-based wall paint is far less common, while water-based latex paint is less expensive, easier to apply, and contains fewer harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that may lead to long-term health problems.
The disadvantage of water-based paints is the fact that they do not withstand abrasion and chemicals as well as oil-based paints. While many people recommend using stronger cleansers like Borax on oil-based paint, harsher chemicals can harm latex.
If you are not sure if your wall is finished with an oil or latex-based finish, always test any new cleaning on a small area first. Test the detergent on a low, concealed spot and let it cure to see whether it alters the color of the wall.
Determine if your wall is painted with oil or latex-based paint by wiping a tiny piece with an acetone-soaked cotton ball. Acetone softens and removes latex paint but does not affect oil-based paint. While evaluating the paint variety is important in specific cleaning scenarios, it is typically only essential if you want to repaint.
Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Painted Walls
Now that you understand how to clean painted walls, there are a few additional tips and tricks that will be quite useful. These will help you get the job done quicker while preventing damage to your walls.
If you have ever added water to thick dust, you know that it results in a much bigger mess. Instead, take a feather duster to remove the top layer of dust and then move on to using a microfiber cloth to wipe away the rest of the dust. Once all of the dust has been removed, you can start cleaning the wall.
Use a Homemade Detergent
There is no need to spend a lot of money on cleaners that are marketed toward cleaning walls. Instead, you could make your own solution of dish soap and water. Use one teaspoon of dish soap for every two cups of water. This solution can be placed in a spray bottle and then sprayed onto the cleaning cloth and then wiped onto the wall.
You could also add distilled vinegar if you are trying to make a disinfectant solution.
Baking Soda Works Well for Deep Cleaning
Baking soda is a popular household cleaner and it can be used to clean painted walls as well. Baking soda is both an abrasive cleanser and a natural deodorizer.
Make a solution of water and baking soda. Half a cup of baking soda mixed with a gallon of warm water is all you need. Soak a soft towel or cloth in the solution and use it to spot-clean your walls.
Bring Out the Magic Eraser for Stubborn Stains
Because matte paint is harder to clean, you may need to enlist some help. A Magic Eraser is a common, useful instrument for erasing imperfections from walls painted in a matte finish.
It would be best to use it carefully and cautiously, as too much roughness might wear away the paint.
Mistakes That Should Be Avoided
While cleaning painted walls is simple enough, there are a handful of mistakes that should be avoided. Each mistake can either set you back to the first phase of cleaning or it could simply result in you needing to repaint the wall. Nevertheless, there are a variety of common mistakes that we have covered below.
Using Abrasive Scrubbers
It would make sense to some people to use an abrasive scrubber to get stains from the walls. However, it is a bad idea since this type of scrubber would scratch and dull the paint. Instead, stick to soft microfiber cloths and sponges.
Using Dyed Cloths or Sponges
To avoid color transference to the walls, only use white towels and undyed sponges. It will be extremely difficult to remove the dye from the wall, so it is best to avoid these fabrics and sponges altogether.
Using Too Much Water
More is not always best, so take it easy on the cleaners and the water. Too much water will result in dripping, which would likely be okay on a glossy surface. However, it would be extremely difficult to remove watermarks from matte paint.
Using Too Much Force
Water and a sponge are enough to remove paint from a wall so it is best to ease up on the pressure. With light pressure and a soft cloth or sponge, you should have no trouble removing most stains.
It is very easy to apply too much pressure, so we suggest that you stick to light repeated wipes.
Using Harsh Chemicals
Chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, and high-alkaline detergents can destroy paint. Stick to mild dish soap to remove common stains and for more stubborn ones, you can use baking soda.
Removing Stubborn Stains
If your walls have gathered some terrible stains over the course of time, you may be confused as to how to remove those stains. Removing stains from your home’s walls may be a difficult procedure since you want to avoid damaging the paint or other finishes on the surface of the paint any more than necessary.
Too much damage from getting rid of stains will eventually require you to have the wall repainted, so employing a cautious approach will help you postpone the need to engage painters to refinish the wall.
The strategy you choose to obtain the greatest results may frequently be determined by the type of stains you are eliminating.
Dishwashing detergent diluted in warm water works well for removing general filth from walls. You may also produce your own cleaner with a cup of ammonia, 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar, as well as 1/4 cup of baking soda.
Combine the contents in a gallon of lukewarm water and use a towel to clean the walls. When finished, rinse with clean water. This method not only removes basic filth but also sterilizes your wall from microorganisms that may have gathered over time. This strategy is especially effective in a household with children or newborns.
Removing Marker Stains
Because permanent markers are purposely made to be difficult to remove, removing these marks from your walls might be difficult. Immerse a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol). Then, blot the permanent marker’s stain with a cotton ball until it is removed. Turn the bundle of cotton so that each dab uses an unstained piece. If it does not work, try spraying the mark with hair spray and wiping away the resultant runs. You might also try using nail polish remover.
If none of these approaches work, apply a dab of toothpaste on top of the permanent marker stain. Allow the toothpaste to sit for five minutes before rubbing it off with a warm moist cloth.
Removing Crayon and Ink Stains
The key to rapidly removing crayon, pencil, and ink stains is to act promptly. Fresh crayon wall stains may be swiftly wiped with cleaning wipes or, if available, baby wipes. Cleaning erasers are also useful for cleaning crayons. Because the graphite-based lead found in pencils is easily erasable, pencil markings may often be erased with art gum erasers or rubber erasers.
A melamine foam eraser or suede stone are other options. A moist towel soaked in baking soda can also be used to remove pencil stains. To eliminate stains caused by oil-based compounds such as ballpoint ink, use foamy shaving cream. Apply it on the ink stain and massage it in. After that, wipe with a moist towel. Nail polish remover as well as hairspray will also work.
You may also try applying white chalky toothpaste over the stain, letting it stay for approximately 15 minutes before removing it with a moist towel.
Removing Greasy Fingerprints
Fingerprints are often oil-based with some dirt mixed in. Marks surrounding light switches as well as doorknobs that have remained there for a long time may have been rubbed into the permeable paint on the wall and will require some effort to remove.
This will be easier if the wall is coated in a gloss finish, but many interior surfaces have a flat matte paint that makes fingerprints difficult to remove.
To begin, try a solution of dishwashing soap and hot water. If it does not work, try dissolving distilled white vinegar in hot water. Use about half a cup of vinegar to half a gallon of warm water. After cleaning with the combination, rinse with warm water. You may also use white chalk to remove any stubborn finger markings. Over the markings, rub a flat portion of chalk. The oily fingerprints should be absorbed by the porous chalk. After that, wipe with a moist microfiber towel.
Removing Kitchen Grease
Grease stains on kitchen walls may usually be cleaned by scrubbing using hot water and dish soap. However, before you begin, acquire a plastic spatula and run over the greasy regions to lift off any loose grease that has accumulated. Removing this easily removed oil before washing with soap reduces the quantity of detergent required to dissolve the extra grease.
Keeping Your Walls Clean Year Round
When it comes to keeping your walls clean all year round, it is important to spot clean whenever necessary. Stains from oils and fingerprints will be more difficult to remove, so it is a good habit to develop. While cleaning is not always enough, you can always keep small samples of the paint on hand and this can be used for regular touch-ups.
Regularly using air purifiers as well as exhaust fans will allow you to keep airborne grease and dust at bay.
This will prevent these particles from settling on the walls along with other surfaces. Another way of keeping the walls clean is to be careful while vacuuming. Try and avoid scraping and dinging while moving around and this should keep your walls in good shape.
Learning how to clean painted walls is a great way of keeping your home looking fresh. There are plenty of methods that could be used to ensure that the job is easy and there is not much that you will need to remember. However, it is important to keep track of the dirt and stains popping up to ensure that a single cleaning job is not too tiresome. Nevertheless, we hope that you have learned enough to guarantee that your next wall cleanup is both simple and enjoyable!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Clean My Walls?
When cleaning painted walls, you should plan to do it at least once a year. However, we suggest that you spot clean as needed. This is because stains will become much more difficult to remove the longer you leave them on the wall.
What Could Be Considered the Best Cleaner for Painted Walls?
Unless you are dealing with extremely stubborn stains, we would suggest using good old liquid dish soap with warm water. However, you should be mindful of the type of paint that you are cleaning, as the process of cleaning some paints is different from others. If you are deep cleaning your walls, it would be best to use baking soda and a Magic Eraser if you are working with matte paint.
Is It Easy to Learn How to Clean Walls With Eggshell Paint?
You could easily learn how to clean walls with eggshell paint if you apply the same techniques used on matte paint. You would need to use a light touch with a damp sponge or cloth and avoid using too much pressure. This is because these types of paint lift very easily, which is why they are not ideal for high-traffic areas around the home.
Robert Thompson has worked as a self-employed carpenter for over 15 years. He lives with his family in Billings, Montana, where he also successfully operates his business as a woodworker. His main business is the complete interior construction of buildings. He is also passionate about creating high-quality wood furniture with epoxy and other items made from burl wood. Besides the woodwork, Robert is also a skilled DIY professional for all kinds of materials. He always has a solution ready for every craft and construction challenge. Originally, Robert studied civil engineering and has advanced degrees in carpentry and business management. Robert has been working for Craft Art since 2020 and enriches the blog with his immense knowledge and skills in the field of woodworking and home improvement. He writes the articles about DIY and Repair.