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How To Wash Walls in 5 Easy Steps

Washing your walls is a wonderful deep cleaning household task. In this article, I will explain how to easily wash walls with vinegar along with some other alternatives.

The process is simple and these 5 easy steps will result in a cleaner, fresher home without the use of chemicals.

Why Wash Walls?

Walls get dirty just like ceilings do. Dust and dirt float through the air and stick where they land.

Wall washing is part of the process for having a clean and fresh home.

And, if you do any amount of cooking, a kitchen wall can be even more in need of washing as areas where cooking is done, especially if done with oil, will more readily attract dust and dirt.

Clean freshly washed walls with white baseboards and a shiny vintage wooden floor
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How To Clean Painted Walls – The Section Below Describes the Supplies Needed

Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Clothes in packaging

Supplies:

Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths . – over the years I’ve used microfiber cloths and plain flannel rags but these scrubbing cloths are great for overall cleaning. Even though the label says dishcloths I use them all over the house for. The scrubbers really help to loosen dirt and make cleaning tasks much easier with the need for less elbow grease.

They’re also machine washable and dryable which is another reason I like them so much. Use them, toss them in the washer, dry them and use them again – no waste and also good for the environment.

*Update 04/2 0/2019 : I’ve been using these scrubbing cloths for over 2 years now with multiple washings and dryings and I have not needed to replace them yet.


If you would prefer to use a microfiber cloth, PerfectClean offers the best I have ever used. The wipers are not textured (like the Scotch-Brite cloths above) but they can be used to remove almost any stubborn stain and have a soft cloth feel. PerfectClean also has an amazing microfiber mop/mop pad option available with a telescopic handle as well that will work great to reach even high wall areas. Use code HOWTO to get 25% off your first order. If you would like to read my entire review, you can do so here: Perfect Clean Review


Two Buckets – I like to use sturdy buckets because I have found that the cheaper, lightweight plastic ones can break, split, and leak causing a huge mess so this is one of those cases where I recommend spending a few more dollars to avoid a mess.

If you have limited space, another option is a double pail.

If using a double pain, place the rinsing (plain) water on one side, and the cleaning solution (vinegar and water) on the other side. Be sure to devise a system so you know which side is which such as marking the rim of the plain water side with a Sharpie marker that says “water” or something similar.

Vinegar – any kind will do and most of the time I use the regular vinegar you can purchase almost anywhere, but I have tried Cleaning Vinegar and it does seem to do a somewhat better job. You can see it used in this post with several more cleaning ideas.

And lastly, either a Swiffer, Microfiber Dry Mop, or reusable Mop Pad

What Type of Walls Do You Have?

Tips for Success:

It’s helpful to know what kind of wall paint was used on the wall you want to clean. Specifics may vary and vinegar may not be the best match for your particular situation.

My walls are drywall with washable paint, eggshell finish, and this method has always worked great for my needs.

This is IMPORTANT: Before using these tips test the method on a small area that is out of sight. You don’t want your paint to not hold up to this process. But, I have never had a problem on ANY of my walls including my chalkboard wall.

Vinegar and Water solution for washing walls - two-bucket method

Is it safe to use this vinegar solution on flat paint walls?

Yes, you can safe use this method to clean flat paint. But, again, always test it on a small inconspicuous surface first just to be sure.

Can this method be used on latex paint?

To get a clean wall that has been painted with latex paint, it is best to use a soft sponge (a new clean sponge) and a safe, all-purpose cleaning solution like warm water with a bit of dish soap or a mild dish detergent added to the water. Use the soapy water in place of the vinegar solution below following all of the same steps as those listed below to clean those dirty walls.

How to spot clean a wall

Spot cleaning can be done with a Magic Eraser. Simply wet the Magic Eraser or use a spray bottle to lightly mist it and then clean the area in question.

How do you get grease stains off painted walls.

To remove grease stains from painted walls mix one part white vinegar with one part hot water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly on the grease stain. Allow it to sit for several minutes and then wipe with a soft clean cloth. Work in one small area at a time until the area is clean.

How to Wash Walls in 5 Easy Steps

Step One

First, remove artwork and other objects from your wall. If possible, remove nails so you start with a smooth surface.

You also don’t want to scratch or cut yourself on a nail, so removal is best.

Step Two – How To Dust Walls

Use a long-handled brush of Swiffer-type tool to clean the room.

Remove cobwebs and dust bunnies carefully without pressing them against the wall. If you do, it will leave a smudge.

How to Wash Walls when you can't reach the top even with a ladder

A vacuum cleaner will also work well for this purpose. Attach an extension wand and dusting tool to go over the walls and remove any loose dirt before starting the wall cleaning process.

*I have a Shark vacuum and out of all of the vacuums I have ever owned, this one is the best and cleans everything from carpeted floors to linoleum to my newer laminate flooring with ease.

What To Do If You Have High Ceilings

If you will be washing areas that you cannot easily reach, attach the cloth, smooth side out, to any Swiffer-type floor cleaner. If you need something longer, you can purchase a 24 – foot extension wall cleaner kit from Amazon that works great.

Dust from Wiping Down One Wall with the smooth side of a Scotch-Brite Dish Cloth

You will want to start at the top of the wall and work your way from top to bottom.

Stop often to shake out your cloth. You will be surprised at how much dust has been removed.

Once you have removed the dust from your wall rinse out your cloth with fresh, clean water.

Dust baseboards with cloth

Don’t Skip This Step

Dust baseboards using the smooth side of the cloth or a baseboard cleaning tool. This step is necessary because you don’t want any dust build-up from the baseboards to get into your solution.

Switch out to a fresh clean cloth as needed.

Cleaning Solution for Cleaning Walls

*The vinegar and water solution directly below is great to use for washing walls before painting as well.

Vinegar and Water solution for washing walls - two-bucket method

Mix the cleaning solution in a bucket: 1/4 cup white vinegar to one quart (32 ounces) of warm water.

*Always test your homemade cleaning solution on a small and inconspicuous area first before using.

You’re going to want to use two buckets; one with the cleaning solution and another with clean, fresh water for rinsing.

Stronger Wall Cleaning Solution Recipe

If the walls you will be cleaning need a little more cleaning power, use the solution below.

1 cup ammonia

1/2 cup vinegar

1/4 cup baking soda

1 gallon warm water

Place your cloth/rag into the solution, squeeze it out well and start washing. Squeezing out the cloth well is an important step; while cleaning your walls you don’t want to make a mess with water dripping down walls and/or onto the floor.

Cleaning Tips for Other Areas in Your Home:

Where to Start

Use a drop cloth to avoid any mess on the floor or carpeting moving as necessary.

Start at the top of the wall near the ceiling and work your way down doing so in small sections. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself. Trust me, I know this from experience. If you do, you will end up with a streaky end result.

Another way to avoid streaking is to slightly overlap each section you clean working from clean to dirty.

Once you have thoroughly cleaned one section (top to bottom) , using the cloth that is in the fresh clean water. Squeeze water out from the cloth and go over the section of wall you just washed; one section at a time.

Unlease the power of scrubbing dots for washing down your walls.

*Note: For extra scrubbing action, switch from the smooth side of the cloth to the scrubbing dots side.

Next, take a dry cloth and dry the wall you just washed and rinsed then move on to another section of the wall. Replace water as needed so you always have both clean solution and clean water for rinsing.

Once done, stand back and enjoy the clean walls!

Clean freshly washed walls with white baseboards and a shiny vintage wooden floor

How To Wash Walls

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

How to wash walls with vinegar plus tips to easily remove dirt, stains, and smudges from painted walls and the solution to use to prep walls for painting.

Materials

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar to one quart (32 ounces) of warm water for basic solution
  • MORE POWERFUL SOLUTION
  • 1 cup ammonia
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1-gallon warm water

Instructions

  1. Start by Dusting Walls and Baseboards
  2. First, remove artwork and other objects from your wall.  If possible, remove nails so you start with a smooth surface.
  3. Use a long-handled brush of Swiffer-type tool to clean the room. Remove cobwebs and dust bunnies carefully without pressing them against the wall. If you do, it will leave a smudge.
  4. If you will be washing areas that you cannot easily reach, attach the cloth, smooth side out, to any Swiffer-type floor cleaner or if you need something longer, you can purchase a 24-foot extension wall cleaner kit from Amazon that works great. You will want to start at the top of the wall and work your way from top to bottom.
  5. Stop often to shake out your cloth. You will be surprised at how much dust has been grabbed and that’s another reason to use a cloth that works well. I once again used the Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths. Once you have completely wiped the dust and dust bunnies from the wall, rinse out your cloth with fresh, clean water.
  6. Dust baseboards using the smooth side of the cloth or a microfiber rag. This step is necessary because you don’t want any dust build-up from the baseboards to get into your water or on your rag and make a mess. I used the same rags for this entire process but you can switch out to fresh ones if you prefer.
  7. Now, You're Ready to Wash Your Walls
  8. Mix cleaning solution in a bucket.
  9. Add PLAIN water to second bucket.
  10. Place your cloth/rag into the solution, squeeze it out well and start washing.  Squeezing out the cloth well is an important step; while cleaning your walls you don’t want to make a mess with water dripping down walls and/or onto the floor.  
  11. Start at the top of the wall near the ceiling and work your way down doing so in small sections.  You don’t want to get ahead of yourself. Trust me, I know this from experience. If you do, you will end up with a streaky end result. 
  12. Another way to avoid streaking is to slightly overlap each section you clean working from clean to dirty
  13. Once you have thoroughly cleaned one section (top to bottom), using the cloth that is in the fresh clean water, squeeze water out from the cloth and go over the section of wall you just washed; one section at a time.
  14. Next, take a dry cloth and dry the wall you just washed and rinsed then move on to another section of the wall replacing water as needed so you always have both a clean solution and clean water for rinsing. Once done, stand back and enjoy the clean walls!

Notes

The vinegar and water solution alone is great to use for washing walls before painting as well as routine wall washing in the home.

*Note, if you need a little extra scrubbing action switch from the smooth side of the cloth to the scrubbing dots side.

Did you try this?

Please leave a comment below or share a photo on Instagram and tag #thehowtohome to let me know!

Some Extra Wall Washing Tips

  • To stop water from running down your arm while washing your walls, use some old fashioned wrist sweatbands. And alternative would be to wrap a washcloth around your wrist and keep it in place with a thick rubber band.
  • To remove crayon marks from walls use either baby wipes or a cloth damped with water and dipped in baking soda.

The Scotch-Brite Dish Cloths have received The How-To Home’s Product Seal of Approval!

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Tami

Monday 28th of October 2019

Thank you for the great tip Mary Beth. Will definitely be investing both towels and vinegar. Also my walls have never been painted, it's the builder way of painting but I want to clean my walls and baseboards before I paint them. I know I can't scrub very hard cause I have and it took the builder paint job off and down to the actual drywall. So vinegar should be ok cause I have used water before and used Mr Clean erasers.

Mary Beth

Tuesday 29th of October 2019

Hi Tami! I'm glad you liked the tip. What I would do if I were you is test the vinegar inside a closet maybe that has the same paint. That way the walls won't be damaged in an area where you can see them. I think (I may be wrong, though!) that my gameroom was like that, with just builder's paint, and I used this down there and it was fine but I would still want to test it out first. If you can let me know the results, I would really appreciate it. Regards, Mary Beth

Sunday 7th of April 2019

3.5

Sunday 3rd of February 2019

4

Cyndi

Sunday 29th of January 2017

Great idea! I use a sponge mop for my walls. ( And only my walls). I'll try the cloth next time! Thanks ?

Mary Beth

Sunday 29th of January 2017

Thank you, Cindy! Have a wonderful week and thanks so much for stopping by C&C.

Amy

Friday 27th of January 2017

That makes it SO quick . . thank you!

Mary Beth

Saturday 28th of January 2017

Thank you, Amy!

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