How to Clean Painted Walls

Not sure how to wash your painted walls? Have you ever tried to get a mark or stain off a wall and stopped when you realized you were rubbing off the paint too? It’s true, you’ve got to be careful when washing painted walls. Most household spray cleaners and liquids are too harsh for the job. Use these painted wall cleaning tips to remove dirt and stains without damaging the finish!

Washing Painted Walls 101

  1. Start with a thorough dusting. Use a telescoping duster or a vacuum with a hose attachment. Alternatively, you could use a regular dust mop and a stepstool or stepladder (if necessary). (Side note: Dust your walls a few times a year. Really, that’s as often as you need to do it—unless your home is especially prone to cobwebs or the walls are in a space that’s particularly susceptible to dust.)
  2. Wipe with water. Once the dusting’s done, use a soft, non-abrasive sponge dipped in water to gently wipe the wall. Try not to rub or scrub—at this point you’re just checking to see if the sponge + water method is going to work. Wipe down the entire wall, and let it dry completely.  If the wall still has spots or stains, move on to the next method.
  3. Use a mild cleaner. There are a few different cleaning agents to try, depending on the dirt and the type of paint on your walls.
    • To clean latex-painted walls:
      • Baking soda paste – To clean fingerprints and dirt around switch plates, doors, and other frequently-touched areas, mix baking soda and water to make a paste and rub it on the wall gently with a soft cloth or sponge.
      • White vinegar and water – Make a mixture of one part vinegar and one part warm water; do the same method described above.
      • For general cleaning, if water isn’t enough, use a diluted all-purpose cleaner and a soft sponge or non-abrasive cloth. Do a “rinse wipe” afterwards with a fresh cloth or sponge dipped in warm water.
    • To clean oil-painted walls:
      • Use this mixture suggested by Better Homes and Gardens: one teaspoon liquid dish detergent and ¼ teaspoon white vinegar added to a quart of warm water. Wipe gently with a non-abrasive cloth or sponge.

Getting Serious Marks and Stains Off Painted Walls

You can remove most stains and marks from painted walls without damaging the paint. Just be careful!

  • To get crayon marks off painted walls – Use a dull knife to gently (very gently!) scrape off the top layer of crayon. Then rub the area with an “eraser” pad (name brand or store brand) until all of the crayon is gone.
  • To get marker or pen ink off painted walls – First, wipe with a wet cloth or baby wipe to see how much of the ink comes off. If the ink is fresh, blot first to avoid smearing. If ink remains, you can try rubbing with an “eraser” pad as described above or use hairspray or toothpaste and a soft cloth.

Time for a New Interior Paint Job?

Try these painted-wall cleaning tips to freshen up your rooms. But if the walls of your North Texas home haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint since the Bush administration (either one!), it might be time to call Encore. You’d be surprised at what a new paint job can do!


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