Always test your cleaning product or method first on an inconspicuous area to make sure it will not cause damage or discoloration.

Routine Cleaning

Cleaning your painted surfaces is an important part of maintaining their appearance and integrity. Over time, oils and grease accumulate on interior walls; these oils trap airborne particles such as dirt, dust, and potentially harmful microorganisms and bacteria. We get a lot of questions about how to clean painted surfaces, so we compiled a basic step by step guide to help you keep your home looking brand new.

What you’ll need:

Fill one bucket with room temperature water and another with hot soapy water. Use a cleaning product that is mild and non-abrasive, and if cleaning a surface covered with a waterborne paint, avoid cleaners that are ammoniated. You will also need a cloth or sponge for scrubbing, another one for rinsing, and a towel for drying. It is important to rinse and dry the wall promptly after washing it to prevent soap residue from drying on the wall or damage from water exposure.

What to do:

  1. Starting at the top and moving side to side and downward, dust the wall to remove any large bits of dirt. You might be tempted to skip this step since you are about to wash the wall anyway, but don’t! Dust is easy to remove while dry but can actually cause staining when wet.
  2. Dunk a clean cloth or sponge in the soapy water, wring it out, and begin washing the wall in a circular motion.  There is some debate whether it is best to start at the top of the wall and work downwards or start at the bottom and work up.  People who prefer to start at the top reason that if they start at the bottom and move up, there will be dirty streaks of water running down the already clean areas of the wall.  This is true; however, dirty streaks of water can be easily wiped off of a clean wet wall, whereas dirty streaks of water can quickly stain a dry wall.  In reality it doesn’t matter too much unless your walls are very dirty; for a more professional cleaning job start at the bottom and work towards the top, then work your way back down to clean up the dirty streaks.
  3. Rinse the wall before it dries by wiping it down with a clean wet cloth or sponge.
  4. Finally, dry the wall with a towel.

Stain Removal

Some stains require a bit more firepower than just mild soapy water. An effective natural way to remove stains is to prepare a thick baking soda and water paste and gently rub the stain with it. Not only is this technique inexpensive, non-toxic, and usually surprisingly effective, but it’s also safe to use on flat paint finishes which are notoriously susceptible to damage by cleaning products. If this method does not work, there are a number of commercially available products such as Mr. Clean Magic Erasers that are effective at removing stains from walls, just make sure to read the instructions carefully and test them on inconspicuous areas first to make sure they don’t cause any color alterations or damage to the surface.

Painting Over the Stain

Unfortunately, there are some stubborn scuff marks, stains, or discolorations that just will not come out no matter what and the only option is to paint over it. Spot painting and drywall repair is a tricky business and if not done correctly can result in noticeable discontinuous patches of color and texture on the wall. For this reason we can’t recommend anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing attempt this on their own. To find a professional paint contractor in your area, click here.