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How to Clean Walls

Tips for cleaning painted walls to remove grime, pen marks, dust and stains.

Before cleaning

  • Know what paint type you’re working with. Use gentler (non-abrasive) cleaners on flat, satin and/or eggshell. These paint types, unlike durable gloss and semigloss, are more prone to damage.
  • Dust your walls. You can remove dust simply by wiping a slightly damp towel or brushing a feather duster over them.
  • Protect your floors. Cover the ground below the walls and move adjacent furniture away from the walls.

DIY Wall Cleaner

For all latex painted walls, the best option is a non-abrasive solution. While you can find non-abrasive cleaners at a grocery or home supply store (make sure the label says that it does not contain grease or harsh chemicals), making a DIY gentle wall cleaning solution is just as effective.
  1. Water and white vinegar: While pure vinegar alone is an effective cleaning agent, you’ll want to be careful when applying it to paint – so dilute it with equal parts water before applying it for cleaning.
  2. Rubbing alcohol: Applying rubbing alcohol to a cotton pad is a simple yet effective method for spot treatment or stains that are particularly set in.
  3. Borax: Borax should ONLY be used on oil-based paints (not latex). In any of the first two methods, simply substitute the active ingredient with borax. (Note that a safe water to borax ratio is one pint to one ounce.

Removing stains

If you want to zero in on stain removal, always test a small portion of the wall before applying any new ingredients.
  • Run a sponge over the surface. Slightly moisten the sponge with the appropriate cleaner, and then wring it out. (Less is more!) Gently move the sponge over the stained area.
  • Have another sponge on hand, this one with warm water only. Follow up the first sponge with this warm-water sponge to ‘pick up’ the loosened dirt and grime particles.
  • Dry the wall using a soft cloth.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.