How to clean painted walls

Wondering how to clean painted walls that are looking a little grubby? Whether it's part of a spring clean, to avoid redecorating or you've got young kids, it's a job that needs doing regularly. Here's how

Use our guide to find out how to clean painted walls: here, a cleaning bucket is at the ready
(Image credit: Getty)

Knowing how to clean painted walls won't be a top house-cleaning priority. However, painted walls do need cleaning, and regularly. At the very best, walls gather dust and grime. At the very worst, it's likely they'll be smeared with dirty finger prints, knocks and scuffs and possibly even food. Cleaning painted walls needs to be done cautiously. The last thing you want to do is to remove the finish. So, read these tips* to find out how.

For more cleaning tips, hacks and buys, see our dedicated hub page. Find out how to clean wallpaper in our expert guide.

How to clean painted walls

Before you start, ensure the tools you're using, from sponges to cloths to dust mops won't scratch the paintwork. Soft sponges and soft cloths are what's needed. 

  • Find out everything you need to know about paint on our dedicated hub page

1. Dust before you clean

Dust off any excess dirt before starting to clean painted walls, otherwise you will just spread the grime. You can do this using a lint-free cloth for those areas you can reach, and a soft broom with a rag over its bristles or, better still, a dust mop (we rate the e-cloth deep clean mop) for any high areas.

2. Wash the walls with a gentle detergent 

In most cases, all you need for this is warm, soapy water. Create a cleaning solution in a bucket using water and your mildest cleaning detergent – we like the Ecozone Sensitive washing up liquid. Use your softest sponge to apply the solution to your walls. Don’t over soak the sponge. If you do, wring it out properly before cleaning as dripping can potentially leave water stains on your walls. Leave for five to 10 minutes. 

3. Rinse off the detergent

Have a second bowl or bucket of clean water to hand so you can rinse off the soapy solution about five to 10 minutes after applying. This simple process should be enough to clean most painted walls.

4. Clean painted walls of pesky stains with vinegar

Need something a little stronger? White vinegar, our old cleaning favourite, is up to the task of cleaning off any stubborn stains or particularly grimy walls.

Simply mix a cup of white vinegar with a bucket full of warm water and use your soft sponge to tackle any stains. No need to rinse off after.

Find more tips on cleaning your house with vinegar in our guide.

5. Don't clean painted walls with alcohol + chemicals

If you’re heading to your cleaning cupboard to find the right products to clean painted walls with, step away from anything containing alcohol or harsh chemicals. These ingredients can break down your paint surfaces and leave your walls in more of a mess than when you first started.

If you’re unsure about even the mildest detergent, test it out first. Find an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t contain any ingredients that will affect the paintwork.

6. Use a mild degreaser for painted kitchen walls

Obviously, painted kitchen walls can get a little greasy. On top of your washing techniques above, an additional wipe down with a gentle degreaser should do the trick. Just follow the product instructions to avoid any streak marks, and don't forget that harsh chemicals should be avoided. Our advice? If in doubt, stick to white vinegar.

7. Spot clean painted walls with baking soda + water

Got a few stains that just won’t budge? Baking soda can come to your rescue. Spot clean your walls using a mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda/baking soda on a soft cloth or towel.

A half cup of it in a bucket of warm water should do it. Any crayon or pen marks should come straight off with this nifty little blend. Again, be sure to test out on a hidden area before applying it to a visible part of the wall.

Use our guide to find out how to use bicarbonate of soda to clean your home.

8. Or spot clean with baby wipes

Baby wipes, make up removers... all of these are good for removing the odd dirty spot from your walls. Choose eco-friendly ones and don't flush them down the toilet to be environmentally friendly.

*Tips thanks to Airtasker.

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