How to Clean Walls Without Removing the Paint

How to Clean Walls Without Removing the Paint

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At this time of year (spring) I like to do some deep cleaning jobs. This month I’m going to start with the walls in the hall.

We’ve lived in our current house for over ten years. When we first moved in, we painted nearly every room in the house, and it looked great. Ten years later, the walls are looking tired. Ideally it all needs redecorating again, but I just don’t have the time do it at the moment!

The hall is the worst part of the house. There are greasy hand marks, scuff marks and mud splatters where the dog shakes herself coming inside.

So I thought I would tackle washing them instead of painting and see where it gets me. My biggest concern is rubbing off the paint work, and ending up having to redecorate it all anyway.

So today I’m going to take you through what I did to get the walls looking fresh again.

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The different types of paint and how the treatment is different

Certain paints are more liable to wear off when you wash them and so need a bit more care.

The rule of thumb is that if your paintwork doesn’t reflect the light, then it is liable to rub off. This includes matte, eggshell, silk and satin.

For paints that do reflect light (such as glosses) you can scrub a little harder because they are more durable.

Start by dusting

dusting the wall

Always start by dusting your walls and baseboards with a dry microfiber cloth. If you do that first, your cleaning job will be much easier.

Microfiber cloths are great for attracting the fine dust and dirt that you probably can’t see with the naked eye.

For hard to reach areas, attach your microfiber cloth to the end of a broom such as a Swiffer, or use the long pole on your vacuum with the dusting brush attachment.

dusting the top of the wall with a swiffer

What you’ll need to clean your walls

The great news is that you don’t need any special cleaners for your walls. In fact, the gentler, the better otherwise you risk rubbing off or damaging the paint.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A bucket of warm soapy water made with a few squirts of dish soap
  • 2 x microfiber cloth (one for washing and one for rinsing)
  • A bucket of water for rinsing
  • Floor mop such as a Swiffer for harder to reach areas

How to clean your walls

wiping the wall with a wet cloth

Now you have dust free walls it’s time to start washing them.

  1. Dip your microfiber cloth into the soapy water and wring it out. You don’t want it to be soaking wet.
  2. Then lightly scrub the wall with the soapy microfiber cloth.
  3. Rinse with the clean cloth and water
  4. Dry with a dry cloth or kitchen towel to avoid watermarks from forming.

Start from the bottom and work in sections. Don’t let too much water run down the wall as you clean as this may cause streaks on the paintwork.

Protip: Rinse out your cloth after cleaning each section to avoid redistributing the dirt to another section of the wall.

How to remove dirty marks

Areas around light switches and doors may be more stained. You may need to scrub a little harder in those areas.

If you find that marks aren’t coming off with the soapy water, here are some things to try:

Always test on a hidden spot first to make sure you don’t damage paint.

White vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is great for spot removing greasy stains. Spray a diluted solution onto a microfiber cloth and wipe over the greasy mark. You can also some diluted dish soap. In a more concentrated form, dish soap should work just as well as vinegar.

Baking soda or bicarb of soda

Mix some baking soda or bicarbonate of soda with water to create a paste and apply it to the marked areas on the wall. The mild abrasive nature of baking soda helps to lift and remove the marks without damaging the wall’s surface. This is particularly effective for removing scuff marks, crayon stains, and other minor marks.

Magic eraser

Magic erases are fantastic for removing marks on walls. They have microscopic strands on them that work like very fine sandpaper. So they can remove marks without removing the paint. Simply wet the sponge and rub, and you should find scuff marks, crayon and general dirt comes off easily.

Touch up the paint

If you find that stains don’t come off with the above, then touching up the paint may be the only option.

Paint colors tend to be made in batches to ensure the colors are the same, so really you need the original tin otherwise. Of course colors fade too over time, so it may be time to call the decorators in!.

Mistakes to avoid when cleaning walls

Now you know the best way to clean your walls, let’s go through a few things to avoid:

  • Always use gentle cleaning agents such as dish soap or vinegar
  • Avoid using anything with bleach or alcohol as this will remove the color
  • Don’t scrub too hard
  • Don’t use too much water
  • Always dry the walls after washing to avoid watermarks

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Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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