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How to Clean Walls With Easy, Effective Methods

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
Hand cleaning off wall

Learning how to clean walls requires some basic knowledge about what your walls are made of. If you regularly dust and spot clean your walls, you won't have to wash them very often. All you need are a few standard household cleaning items to get your walls looking new again.

What to Use to Clean Walls

There are many common household tools and products you can use to clean your walls. Which you use will be determined by the type of cleaning you're doing and what your walls are made of.

  • Use a vacuum cleaner hose with brush attachment to remove dust and debris from any type of wall.
  • Use a flat mop with a removable dusting cloth to remove dust and debris from smooth walls.
  • Use a tack cloth, cheesecloth, or microfiber dusting cloth to remove dust and debris from any type of wall and trim.
  • Use warm water with a soft sponge to wash painted walls with less durable finishes such as flat finishes, eggshell finishes, or stains.
  • Use a diluted de-greasing cleaner and a soft sponge to wash painted walls with more durable finishes such as semigloss or glossy.
  • Use a clean cloth mop pad or other soft cloth to dry walls after washing.

How to Clean Dust and Debris From Walls With a Vacuum

One of the best and easiest ways to dust your walls is to use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Whether you just want to get rid of dust and pet hair or you plan to wash the walls, the first step in wall cleaning is removing debris.

  1. Attach the brush attachment to the hose of your vacuum. Make sure it is free of hair and clean.
  2. Make sure the vacuum is set to use the hose.
  3. Start at the top of the walls and work your way down.
  4. Turn the vacuum on and use short, gentle strokes of the brush to dust the walls and trim.

How to Clean Dust and Debris From Walls With a Flat Mop

Another easy method for dusting your walls is to use a flat mop with a removable dry dusting cloth. You can use a dry Swiffer or something similar.

  1. Put a clean dusting cloth on the flat end of the mop.
  2. Start at the top of the walls and work your way down.
  3. Gently press the dusting cloth flat against the wall and drag in down the entire wall.
  4. Move the mop over so it slightly overlaps the section you just dusted and repeat the action.
  5. If the cloth gets really dusty or dirty, replace it with a new one and continue cleaning.
  6. Since trim, molding, and baseboards aren't always flat, you may want to vacuum off those pieces after dusting the wall.
Cleaning wall with flat mop

How to Wash Walls With Dish Soap

If you plan to wash your walls, a grease-cutting cleaner like dish soap works great. Use a clear dish soap to avoid any color transfer or tinted residue. You don't want to use this method on wood walls or walls with less durable paint finishes.

  1. Gather two clean buckets, a soft sponge, a few towels, and a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Fill one bucket with warm water only.
  3. Fill the other bucket with a simple solution of warm water and a little dish soap.
  4. Line the floor in front of the wall you're cleaning with towels to catch drips.
  5. Dip the sponge in the soapy water and wring out until damp.
  6. Start at the top of the wall on one side. Use a circular motion with light pressure to wash the area.
  7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 on a large section of wall.
  8. Dip the nearly dry sponge in the bucket of water and wring until damp.
  9. Wipe the areas you just cleaned with soap to rinse.
  10. Use the dry cloth to dry the wall following the same motions used to wash it.

How to Wash Walls With Vinegar

If water alone or a water and dish soap mixture doesn't get your wall clean, you can make a stronger cleaner with white vinegar. Cleaning with vinegar is great because you won't be using a bunch of harsh chemicals, but it has disinfecting properties.

  1. Make a homemade vinegar cleaner using distilled white vinegar. Choose a recipe that is just vinegar and water or vinegar and dish soap with water.
  2. Follow the steps for washing walls with dish soap, only use your vinegar cleaner.

How to Spot Clean Wall Stains With Baking Soda

If a damp cloth won't remove the stain from your wall, a little baking soda might do the trick.

  1. Wipe the stain with a damp cloth.
  2. Make a paste using baking soda and water. Put some baking soda in a small cup or bowl, then add small amounts of water until you get a thick paste.
  3. Dip your damp cloth in the baking soda paste.
  4. Gently rub the paste onto the stain.
  5. Use a clean part of the damp cloth to wipe away the baking soda.
  6. Dry the area with a clean cloth.

How to Clean Nicotine Off Walls

Cleaning yellowish nicotine stains off walls is difficult, but it's also possible. A strong vinegar and water solution should be your first option. If that doesn't work, you can try a solution of one cup of ammonia per gallon of water.

  1. Open windows and ensure you have good air flow before starting.
  2. Wear protective gloves to keep the smells off your hands.
  3. Dust the walls first.
  4. Line the floor in front of the wall with towels.
  5. Make a strong vinegar solution that's 2/3 distilled white vinegar and 1/3 water.
  6. Fill a bucket with warm water.
  7. Soak a smooth cloth in the vinegar solution for a few seconds.
  8. Wring out the cloth and scrub a small section in circular motions.
  9. Dip a clean cloth in the water, wring it out, and wipe the section you just cleaned.
  10. Immediately use a clean, dry cloth to dry the area you just rinsed.
  11. Repeat Steps 7 to 10 across all walls. Change your cloths and water mixtures often.

How to Clean Painted Walls

If you want to clean painted walls without removing the paint, you should first test a hidden area of the wall. Then you can dust or wash using the methods that didn't damage the test area.

  • For newly painted walls, wait at least 2 weeks after painting before you try to wash the walls.
  • Test your selected cleaning method on a small, hidden spot of the wall such as near a baseboard in a corner or behind a wall hanging.
  • Avoid scrubbing, harsh rubbing, or coarse cloths.

How to Clean White Walls

White walls pose an additional challenge because any dirty water used to wash the walls could leave behind faint brown streaks.

  • Ensure your cleaning materials are as clean as possible before using them to clean white walls.
  • If washing white walls, rinse and wring your sponge regularly to avoid wiping dirty water on them. You should also frequently change your water.
  • Wash smaller sections, then dry them quickly instead of washing a big area.

Refresh Your Walls With Ease

The best ways to clean walls are actually with simple methods like dusting or wiping down with water. Use these easy wall cleaning methods to check one big item off your spring cleaning checklist.

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How to Clean Walls With Easy, Effective Methods