Posted on October 24th, 2018
Walls are one of the most visible parts of our homes. If they’re stained, dingy, or faded, they can make a whole interior look dirty and aged. At the same time, most of us worry that if we scrub our walls too vigorously (or use the wrong cleaning solution), we might damage the paint on them. Cleaning wallpaper can be even more intimidating. Fortunately, the internet has the power to connect laymen with professional cleaners—like us—and we’re more than happy to share our knowledge. To learn how to clean walls effectively, simply consult the guide below:
6 Steps to Gleaming Clean Walls
Choose the right time of year.
Ideally, you shouldn’t let moisture sit on your walls any longer than it has to. We therefore recommend making wall cleaning a part of your spring cleaning: This way, you’ll be able to open your doors and windows to circulate air around your home and speed drying time. Alternately, you can set up fans and dehumidifiers to help your walls dry faster.
Prepare your home ahead of time.
To help you work more quickly (and avoid accidents), you should move furniture and pictures away from the walls before you start cleaning them. You should also unplug lamps, televisions, and other electronics before you begin working. Eliminate any trip hazards that might be in your path, too.
Once you have everything out of the way, lay an old towel or bed sheet down on the floor to act as a “drop cloth” while you work. A drop cloth is used to keep excess moisture and dirt off your floors while you clean. When you’re done, you can just toss the drop cloth in the laundry, making cleanup a breeze.
Finally, grab a step stool to help you reach the tops of walls. Choose a sturdy stool that sits securely in place so that you don’t tip over while cleaning.
Start by dusting your walls.
Removing surface dust and grime will prime your walls and help you create a polished finish. If you skip this step, dust particles might mix with your liquid cleaning solution and form dirty rivulets that streak the walls and soil the baseboards.
To make this job less arduous, we recommend using a vacuum cleaner with a soft attachment head to dust the walls—Don’t attempt to dust them by hand as you would a lamp or shelf. If you don’t have a soft attachment that’s suitable for dusting, use a clean, dry microfiber mop.
Next, remove any stains.
Stains can be “spot removed” from walls using either a store-bought cleaning solution intended for this purpose, or standard dish soap. For tougher stains (on painted walls only), you can try spraying the stain with vinegar. Leave the vinegar in place for at least fifteen minutes (to give it time to dissolve the stain), then wipe the area down with cool water. If you can still see the stain after doing this, make a thick paste out of baking soda and water, apply it to the stain, and scrub the area with a dye-free sponge. The baking soda will act as a mild abrasive and (hopefully) polish away the stain.
Remember that when using any cleaning product on walls, it’s a good idea to test the solution on a small, inconspicuous corner before proceeding. This way, if the solution causes any fading, you won’t end up with a large, visible blemish.
If none of these DIY stain removal methods work, contact a professional housecleaning service. Never “upgrade” to using bleach or any other harsh chemical on your walls; corrosive agents like these can do serious damage to paint, drywall, and wallpaper. Hiring a cleaner is ultimately much less expensive than having your walls repainted.
Once you’ve gotten all of the prep work out of the way, wall cleaning is actually fairly simple. When working with wallpaper, you’ll need a bucket filled with warm, soapy water (a dash of dish detergent in about a gallon of water usually works fine) and a bucket filled with clean, cool water (for rinsing). Dip a soft dye-free sponge in the soapy water and then wring it out so that it’s just damp, not wet; soaking wallpaper can damage the glue behind it. Scrub the wallpaper gently with the soapy sponge, then pat the area down with another soft sponge that’s been moistened with water.
When working with painted walls, you can use the same method outlined above, or you can use a vinegar-water solution. Vinegar sometimes works better on walls that are particularly dirty or stained with ink. Mix a cup of distilled white vinegar in a gallon of warm water, dampen a soft dye-free sponge, and wipe down the walls, working from top to bottom.
In both cases, you should rinse your sponge out regularly to avoid spreading grime. If you notice the liquid in either bucket becoming dirty, replace it.
Whisk away any streaks of moisture.
Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away any obvious rivulets of liquid; doing this will prevent streaking. There’s no need to meticulously dry down every inch of wall space, though. As long as you have your windows open, or a few powerful fans in place, your walls should be able to dry safely through normal evaporation.
Though these DIY methods will work for most normal household stains, some stains (like tobacco stains) are inevitably too tough to handle with consumer cleaning products alone. If you’re not sure how to get rid of a stubborn stain without damaging your walls, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help you get your walls looking like new.