How to clean white walls – 5 tips when wiping won’t work

Previously pristine white walls scuffed or marked? Try these solutions to clean white walls and make them lovely once more

How to clean white walls
(Image credit: Anton/Unsplash)

A clean white wall is a thing of beauty, but one that can be marred by scuffs, marks and, er, keen artists in the family. Your go-to solution is, of course, wiping them down, but sadly this doesn’t always sort the problem out. 

Re-decorating, meanwhile, is a whole other kettle of paint, and one you don’t want to get involved with unless you have to because it’s a lot more work, and costs, too. But are there any other ways to get your walls back into the clean state they should be without getting out a paintbrush?

Luckily the answer’s yes, and you’ll find them below.

Find out more about how to clean walls in our dedicated guide.

Before you start Melissa Maker of Clean My Space recommends 'You always want to test what you're using in an inconspicuous area' as some paints simply can't handle being cleaned and will come out with what looks like a permanent wet mark on the wall.'

1. Get out the washing-up liquid

A little detergent could come to your aid if just wiping hasn’t done the trick. First, make sure there’s no loose grot on the wall that will only make things worse if you rub it in. You can sort this out with a soft brush (clean and dry, of course), or even a mop with a soft cloth wrapped around the head. 

Then try adding a little mild washing-up liquid to warm water. Apply to the offending spot with a soft sponge. Make sure you don’t make the wall too wet or you could get a water stain instead. 

Step away for around five minutes, then rinse with clean water, again applied with a soft sponge.

2. Make like Mrs Hinch with fabric softener

Apparently it’s fur baby Henry, Mrs Hinch’s cocker spaniel, who has been the cause of dirty marks on her walls, and The Sun detailed how she deals with the problem. 

The cleanfluencer and Instagram star first dusts using a feather duster, then uses a Minky M cloth to wipe the walls with fabric softener diluted in warm water.

The benefit of using fabric softener is that it’s mild and won’t remove the paint. For Mrs Hinch the other upside to this method is that it makes the house smell of washing, which sounds good to us. Shop the Minky M Cloth now

3. Cleaning white walls with vinegar

Ah, vinegar. How many household problems can it help you solve, and a marked wall is indeed one of them. Vinegar’s the stuff to arm yourself with if the mark on your white wall is a greasy one. 

You’ll need to fill a bucket with warm water and add a cup of white vinegar. Then apply to the wall with a soft sponge. 

4. Cleaning white walls with baking soda

Still got a mark? You can spot clean the wall with baking soda. Maker recommends taking a damp microfibre cloth, dipping it in baking soda and gently rubbing it over the stained area. 'Wipe it off and follow it up by buffing it dry with a dry cloth, that will get rid of the residue. The baking soda will provide a tiny bit of abrasion, which should help rub off any marks or stains'.

You can also make a paste. Mix three parts of baking or bicarbonate of soda with one part water to create a paste, then apply (gently) with a soft dampened sponge. Wipe clean with a lint-free cloth. 

5. Cleaning white walls with a magic eraser

You can use a magic eraser to restore the whiteness of your walls and we’d definitely recommend one of these if a small member of the family has daubed them with crayon or left their grubby fingerprints on them...

You’ll just need to wet it under the tap, squeeze out, and then apply to wall. Again, test it first on an inconspicuous spot hidden by furniture usually.

Beautiful finish!

Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.