How to Clean Painted Walls

Keep painted walls looking fresh with preventive maintenance and simple cleaning methods.


Preventive Maintenance

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Maintain a freshly painted look on your walls by keeping them free of dust and spots. Plus, preventive maintenance means less time spent scrubbing later.

Vacuum walls with a soft brush attachment. Then wipe them down with a cloth-covered broom or mop (spray with a dusting agent for best results) or use an electrostatic dusting wipe. Wipe away fingerprints and other marks soon after they appear. Avoid using an excessive amount of water.

Walls Painted with Latex Paint

Wash walls painted with latex paint using warm water and a nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner. Dip a clean sponge in the water, then wring it dry. Gently rub the wall. Pay special attention to areas that get touched often -- such as around doorknobs and light switches. Rinse with a second sponge and clear water. Take care not to wet areas around outlets, light switches, telephone jacks, and other electrical connections. When scrubbing those spots becomes necessary, turn off electricity at the circuit breaker box.

For stubborn spots, such as fingerprints, newspaper smudges, or scuffs, make a paste of baking soda and water and rub the area with a nonabrasive pad. If cleaner (or white vinegar and water) doesn't remove the grime or stain on painted woodwork, wipe the woodwork with a rag dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Walls Painted with Oil-Based Paint

Wash walls painted with oil-based paint in the same manner, substituting detergent solution (see below) for the cleaner or white vinegar mixture. Wring the sponge or cloth until only slightly damp. Texture-painted walls, such as those with a troweled finish, can be dust catchers and might require deeper cleaning. Add 1 ounce of borax to each pint of water to clean the wall.

Recipe for All-Purpose Detergent Solution

  • Stir 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent into a quart of warm water.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar.
  • Let solution sit on stain for 10 minutes before blotting.

Stain Fixes

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Find all of our best stain stolutions for walls, clothes, and more in our free tool, Stain Fixes.

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