How Do You Clean Walls? Easy Ways to Tackle Dust & Dirt

Updated April 21, 2022
Hand cleaning off wall

Learning how to clean walls requires some basic knowledge about what is on your walls. However, if you regularly dust and spot clean your walls, you won't have to wash them very often. All you need is a few standard household cleaning items to get started.

Best Way to Clean Dust Off Walls

When it comes to how to clean dirt off walls quickly, you need to start with a good dusting. For cleaning dust:

  • Use a vacuum cleaner hose with a 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.

How to Clean Dust 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 plan to wash the walls, the first step in wall cleaning is removing debris.

  1. Connect 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 brush strokes to dust the walls and trim.

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

Mop on a white wall concept

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 it down the entire wall.
  4. Move the mop over to slightly overlap the section you just dusted and repeat the action.
  5. If the cloth gets 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.

How to Clean Dirt Off Glossy or Flat Painted Walls

After you've removed the dust, it's time to get rid of the remaining stains. This requires a bit more than just a dry mop. To clean glossy and flat painted walls, grab:

  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Dry white towel

How to Wash Walls With Vinegar

Woman cleaning wall

You can use just dish soap alone with water, but white vinegar makes your cleaner stronger. Cleaning with vinegar is great because you won't be using a bunch of harsh chemicals, but it has disinfecting properties. You don't want to use this method on walls with less durable paint finishes. For those, just wash them with water.

  1. Mix a cup of white vinegar, a bucket of warm water, and a few drops of dish soap. You can also make a homemade vinegar cleaner using distilled white vinegar.
  2. Dip your sponge in the mixture.
  3. Wash the walls from top to bottom using a circular cleaning motion.
  4. Continue this method until all of the wall is clean.
  5. Empty the bucket.
  6. Fill it with clear water.
  7. Dip the sponge in the mixture and wring it out.
  8. Wipe the walls down with the sponge.
  9. Dry with a white towel.

Tips for Cleaning Painted Walls

Painted walls are typically hard to clean. However, you want to keep a few things in mind when removing dirt and stains.

  • For newly painted walls, wait at least two 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 using coarse cloths.
  • 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 Vinyl Wallpaper Walls With Dish Soap

Vinyl wallpaper is a bit of a different beast than a painted wall. Therefore, you want to use a mild cleaner. To get going, you need to grab:

  • Dish soap
  • Buckets
  • Sponge
  • Clean towels
  • Microfiber cloth

If you plan to wash your wallpaper walls, a grease-cutting cleaner like dish soap works great. Use clear dish soap to avoid any color transfer or tinted residue. Now, follow these steps.

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

How to Spot Clean Wall Stains With Baking Soda

A little baking soda might do the trick if a damp cloth won't remove the stain from your wall. To get started, you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Bowl
  • Cloth

Now that you have your ingredients in hand, follow these steps.

  1. Wipe the stain with a damp cloth.
  2. Make a paste using baking soda and water: Put some baking soda in a small 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. For this method, you need:

  • Ammonia
  • White vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Protective gear
  • Towels

You'll want to start with white vinegar and see if that cuts it.

  1. Open windows and ensure you have good airflow 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.

If that doesn't work, you can try a solution of 1 cup of ammonia per gallon of water. You will follow the same step with the ammonia solution rather than white vinegar.

How to Clean White Walls

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

Easy Way to Clean Walls

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

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How Do You Clean Walls? Easy Ways to Tackle Dust & Dirt