Knowing how to clean walls and ceilings will reduce the amount of dust floating around in your home and make any room look better. It’s also essential if you plan to renovate or repaint your home.
Like most cleaning projects, it may take a bit of effort the first time if they’re dusty and covered in grime. Once you make cleaning walls and ceilings part of your regular cleaning routine it’ll take just minutes. Right away, though, you’ll notice less dust in your house which means it stays clean longer.
How To Clean Walls and Ceilings
It’s a good idea to clean your ceilings first since dust falling from them will settle onto the walls. Since ceilings don’t need to be cleaned as often as walls, though, it’s okay to do them less often.
Rather than climbing up and down a ladder repeatedly, use a long-handled duster with a microfiber attachment to remove dust. Stubborn dirt, like the kind which forms around ceiling fans, can be easily removed with a long-handled paint roller wrapped with duct tape, sticky side out.
Flat or knockdown ceilings:
Combine 1 cup warm water, 4 drops liquid dish detergent and 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a spray bottle. Lightly spray the area then wipe it with a damp paint roller or microfiber mop. Cover the roller with a clean white cloth dipped in water and wipe or dab the area again to remove soapy residue.
There’s a reason these have fallen out of fashion — they’re very difficult to clean. You can remove light dust with a dry paint roller brush — just shake it out every few strokes. Heavier soil and cobwebs are best handled with a soft-bristled brush attachment and your vacuum cleaner.
The first step in cleaning walls is dusting them. A long-handled extension duster makes this easy, especially if you have high ceilings. Starting at an entrance to the room, work top to bottom moving clockwise around the room. This keeps dust from falling onto surfaces you’ve already cleaned.
Once you’ve removed the dust, it’s time to clean the surface. If possible, pull furniture toward the center of the room so you can clean behind it. Otherwise, you may want to lay towels or sheets on top of furnishings to protect them from drips.
You will need:
2 gallons warm water
2 tablespoons liquid dish detergent
A natural sea sponge (colored ones may leave marks on your wall)
Clean white cloths
Clean white towels
- Fill one bucket with 1 gallon of warm water. Add the liquid dish detergent and gently swirl the water with your hand.
- Fill the second bucket with plain warm water.
- Start at an entrance and plan to work clockwise around the room.
- Lay a towel on the floor at the base of the wall where you’ll be cleaning.
- Dip the sponge in the soapy water and gently wring it until it’s not dripping wet. Wash 3-foot by 3-foot sections of the wall, starting at the top and working down. Wash in light, circular motions and focus your efforts on areas that are frequently touched (corners, around light switches and doors, etc.)
- Dip a clean white cloth in the bucket containing plain water and wipe the area you just washed. Dry the area with a towel before moving lower to the next 3×3′ section.
- Proceed clockwise around the room until you’ve washed every wall.
- Allow the walls to dry for a half-hour or so before treating any remaining stains.
Before cleaning wallpapered walls, check the manufacturer’s instructions!
Washable wallpaper: Washable wallpaper can be cleaned like painted walls, but be careful to keep your sponge from getting too wet so you don’t saturate the paper. If you’re not sure whether your wallpaper can be washed spot-test an inconspicuous area by dabbing it with water. If the spot turns dark or the colors run you’ll want to use the cleaning method below.
Textured or non-washable wallpaper: Since these wallpapers cannot be washed you’ll want to vacuum them thoroughly using a soft brush attachment to remove as much dirt as possible. More difficult grime can be removed using a commercial product known as a dry cleaning sponge.
Brick: Start by vacuuming the wall using the soft brush attachment, then wash them using the same method as painted walls. You’ll also want to grab a good scrub brush to clean grout and particularly dirty areas.
So you’ve cleaned your walls and ceilings then allowed them to dry. Now it’s time to inspect them for any remaining stains and remove them.
•Crayons: Make a paste with baking soda and water. Lightly wipe the area with this paste in a circular motion. Use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to remove any lingering color.
•Pencils: Use the pencil eraser! If the mark persists, use a baby wipe on the area.
•Permanent marker: Rubbing alcohol easily removes permanent marker from most surfaces. Wet a cotton ball with it then dab at the area. Change cotton balls frequently so you aren’t simply smearing the stain around.
•Grease: Lightly rub a piece of white chalk or a scoop of baby powder or cornstarch over the area. (You’ll want to put a towel on the floor below and dust the wall when you’re done.) This powder will absorb and pull grease from the paint itself. Allow it to remain in place 10 minutes before wiping the area with a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and warm water.
•Soot or smoke damage: Soot and smoke damage require a two-step approach. First, use a commercial dry cleaning sponge on the area, dragging it downwards on the stain in overlapping strips. The dry sponge will pick up soot in its pores as you work. Do NOT rinse the dry sponge in water or you’ll ruin it; instead, use a sharp knife or razor to cut away the surface and expose a new, cleaning layer. Once you’ve covered the whole area with the chemical sponge, wash it again using soapy water as described above.
Dust ceilings and walls at least once a month. Spot treat smudges with soap and water as soon as you see them. A few minutes of regular weekly attention will keep your walls and ceilings looking new while reducing the amount of dust in your home, too.