Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Step-by-Step Guide: The Best Way to Clean Walls

Step-By-Step Guide The Best Way To Clean Walls Custom Graphic

They are one of the most crucial parts of a home’s structure and yet, almost always overlooked when it comes to home cleaning; we’re talking about your interior walls, of course!

As important as the overall condition of home walls are, their appearance matters too. In fact, the combined qualities of these two things have a major impact on the overall aesthetic of your home.

So, when was the last time you even thought about wall cleaning, let alone went through with the process? If it’s been long enough (or never), there’s a good chance that your once flawless walls have succumbed to dullness and random stains over the years. 

Dust, dirt, and even black mould can cause well-maintained walls to look rather drab; luckily, with a safe and thorough cleaning process, your interior walls will look as good as new!

To make it simple for you, here is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to clean your walls in the best and safest way possible.

Step One: Prepare for the Clean

Person with yellow rubber glove cleaning drawing on wall

For a thorough top to bottom clean of your interior walls, you will need full access to them. This means furniture and wall ornaments should not obstruct the surface. Hence, the first thing you need to do is take down picture frames and other wall décor, followed by moving furniture away from the walls so that you can clean more efficiently. 

Now, it’s time to gather the things you’ll need to complete our wall cleaning method:

  • Drop cloths
  • Ladder
  • Broom/vacuum cleaner
  • Dust cloths
  • Sponge(s)
  • Towels or absorbent cloths
  • Liquid dish soap or white distilled vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Commercial wall cleanser if needed

The last thing you need to do before you are fully prepared to clean your walls is to put down the drop cloths or tarp to catch any spills from the cleaning solution. At this point, you should already know whether you are using a natural homemade cleaning solution or a commercial product. In case of the latter, it is important to lay down plastic as you do not want chemicals dripping onto your floor (which can damage the material). The most secure way to do this is to tape the plastic to the baseboard so any excess liquid on the wall will drip down onto the plastic instead of seeping underneath it.

Step Two: Remove Dust and Dirt from the Surface

Woman in red t-shirt facing a blue wall cleaning it.

Before you can ‘wash’ the walls, you need to remove dust and dirt first. It is important to be as thorough as possible in doing this to avoid spreading debris around the surface when washing the walls. Use a broom or vacuum cleaner to clean the walls from top to bottom. Be sure to use an appropriate brush attachment when vacuuming to prevent scratching or damaging the paint. 

Don’t ignore corners as they tend to accumulate dust, and are common spaces for cobwebs to form. For a thorough clean, wipe over the vacuumed/swept wall with a dust cloth to ensure that the surface is free of dust before it is dampened (later on). 

Step Three: Get the Cleaning Solution Ready

While there are commercial products on the market specifically made to clean different types of wall finishes, painted walls can easily be cleaned with a DIY wall cleaning solution. You can either use dish soap or vinegar as your core cleaning agent; here’s how to make both solutions:

  1. Vinegar: Mix 4-5 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar in 1 gallon of water.
  2. Dish Soap: Mix 4-5 drops of liquid dish soap in half a bucket of water.

Regardless of the cleaning solution in question, it is advisable to perform a ‘spot test’ by applying the cleaner to an inconspicuous area of the wall to ensure that it does not cause any damage or discolouration. For this, you will have to use a sponge dampened in the solution to gently scrub the wall; allow it to dry completely before checking for damage. If needed, try an alternative cleaning solution before continuing the wall cleaning process.

Step Four: Spot Clean Stains

To remove stains on painted walls caused by grubby hands or discolouration over time, you may require a stronger cleaning solution; however, it is advisable to attempt stain removal from walls using the same solution intended for the rest of the surface before strengthening it (the solution), if needed. 

For this step, a towel or soft cloth should be your choice of cleaning tool; simply dip it in the cleaning solution, wring thoroughly to avoid drips, and gently scrub the stain away in circular motions. Bear in mind that there are specific products available for different types of painted walls, hence, if you are dealing with stubborn/large stains, you might want to purchase one of these specially formulated stain removers.

Step Five: ‘Wash’ the Wall

Woman standing in front of fuchsia wall

When we say wash, we don’t mean splashing water around, but merely wiping the wall with a damp sponge. Put down some drop cloths before you begin as there may be a couple of drips to soak up as you go about this step. 

Start by dipping the sponge into the bucket and squeeze out all the excess water; avoid saturating the wall by ensuring that the sponge is not dripping wet. Gently wipe the wall from top to bottom, one section at a time. Rinse off the sponge at intervals to avoid transferring dirt back onto the surface. 

TIP: If water runs down the wall at any point, quickly soak it up using a towel or cloth to prevent stains (caused by dirt on the surface).

Step Six: Soak Up Moisture

It’s best not to leave excess moisture on your walls as they will not only take a longer time to dry up, but prolonged exposure to dampness can cause potential damage to paint finishes. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we advise blotting the entire wall with a white towel or absorbent cloth to soak up as much moisture as possible. Be sure to replace the towel/cloth with a dry one as and when the material becomes damp.

After you’ve completed this step, run the ceiling fans in the room and open up windows to increase ventilation; this will help the walls to dry up faster. Leave the fans on overnight to ensure that the entire wall dries up as quickly as possible.

How to Prevent Dirty Walls in the Home

If you want to avoid getting your interior walls dirty or stained, you simply need to be more careful and aware about certain activities you perform in close proximity to a wall. Similarly, household members must also be mindful about touching walls with unclean hands. In fact, sometimes you might think your hands are clean but even if you’ve just washed them and run your fingers through your hair, they will have some amount of grease on them which then gets rubbed off onto the wall. With that mind, keeping your hands off the walls in your home might be a good rule to enforce among all household members!

As far as activities are concerned, be it painting on canvas or a DIY project, try to set up your station away from the walls so that nothing gets on them. If this isn’t possible, use plastic sheets or large pieces of cardboard to create a barrier between your workstation and walls. Avoid taping plastic or cardboard directly to the wall as it will likely leave an adhesive mark on the paint. Instead, look for other surfaces that are easy to remove sticky residue from such as switchboards, cabinets, doors, etc. In the kitchen, splashes and splatters are inevitable, so if you feel like some of your walls are getting stained from cooking and food preparation, you might want to consider extending the backsplash tiles around the room.

Tips to Maintain Clean Walls

Once you have cleaned your interior walls, you’ll want to keep them that way. Well, the best way to do that is with regular maintenance and cleaning. 

To keep up the cleanliness and aesthetics of your interior walls, make sure to focus on areas surrounding high touch spots like light switches, door frames, etc. These are places where your hands are likely to make contact with the wall, thereby transferring dirt, oils, and bacteria to the surface. Use mild soapy water to dampen a clean sponge or soft cloth, and wipe around these areas every other week to prevent permanent stains.

Dust your walls once or twice a month, and remove cobwebs from corners. Leaving dust and dirt on your walls can cause stains if they become damp, or moisture is present on the surface. It is also important to act swiftly when fresh stains or marks occur. The longer you wait, the more tedious it becomes to remove them. Don't wait until you're trying to complete the dreaded end of lease clean to think about removing those wall marks, it'll just add further stress to a tough job.

Remember, the more often you clean your interior walls, the less likely they are to succumb to permanent stains and dullness. The wall cleaning guide above is perfect for making your home interior walls look as good as new again. Moreover, if done every couple of months, they will look great for years to come!

Frequently Asked Questions

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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