Welcome to the blog of Bates Cleaning Service in Austin, Texas. Learn how to start cleaning walls like a pro!

While many people are good at keeping up with sweeping and dishes (maybe even mopping on especially virtuous weekends!), many parts of the home go unwashed. This can be because they’re considered too time consuming, not worth the effort, or it may not even occur to an individual to wash in the first place. Because of this, spaces in the home like the walls can go ignored for years, even though (especially at child and dog height) they can be very dirty.

Why is cleaning walls important?

A lot of people don’t think of cleaning their walls until they’re about to paint them or apply fresh wallpaper. While that is definitely something you should do, most people only paint their walls once every several years. The everyday grime from little hands and tails (as well as dust and dirt floating around) can add up quickly. These layers of grime and fingerprints can leave your walls looking dull and darker than the original color over time, on top of being unsanitary.

Because we walk on it daily, we automatically think of the floor as being dirty and clean the floors regularly (or at least know we should). But think of how many hands touch the walls, doors, and door knobs without thinking. You may place your palm on a wall that hasn’t been washed for years and immediately go and eat lunch. Young children are especially guilty of this, as they are not the most efficient at washing their hands yet before eating or after using the restroom.

The good news is that washing your walls actually quite simple, and similar to cleaning the floors in many ways.

How to Clean Painted Interior Walls

Here are a few things to remember when washing a wall to ensure that you preserve the condition of the paint or wallpaper.

1) Determine what kind of paint you have

Enamel and semi-gloss paint is very sturdy to washing, but eggshell and stains are more delicate. These may not hold up so well to hard scrubbing or abrasive cleaners. Oil-based interior paints are sturdier and can handle mild degreasers if absolutely necessary, but you generally want to start with the gentlest option first and work up if that doesn’t work.

2) Dust the walls first

No matter what you decide to clean with or what kind of walls you have, dust first! Just dusting can make a big difference, but more importantly you don’t want to smear wet dust all over your walls and make them dirtier. It’s similar to mopping floors without sweeping or vacuuming them first. This way you get any topical excess dirt off the walls first. You can dust them with a “dry sponge,” a dust cleaner like a Swiffer dry mop, or a regular duster.

3) Lay down towels

Similar to painting a room, you want to make sure to lay down towels against the wall on the floor before you start washing them. While the sponge should only be damp and not wet, it’s better to make absolutely sure your cleaner doesn’t drip on the floor. This could possibly stain depending on your flooring, so better safe than sorry!

4) Use a mild cleaner and soft sponge

In most cases, a bucket of water and a soft sponge is all you need. Don’t use the rough scrubbing side of a sponge. Make sure you wring out the sponge before putting it on the wall. You don’t want the wall to end up wet, just a little damp. If water isn’t getting all the grime off, mix a few drips of dish soap or a few tablespoons of white vinegar in a bucket of water to clean. If that still doesn’t work, it may be time to repaint the walls.

You can use either a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth. You want to be very gentle with your walls so you don’t leave any streaks. You can even attach a microfiber cloth to an extendable mop handle to reach high or hard-to-reach spaces!

5) Wash the wall from the bottom up

If you wash a wall from the top, the water or cleaning solution can streak down and ruin your paint. While it may sound counter-intuitive since you’ll be cleaning dirty spots above the already clean lower sections, but it’s less likely to leave streaks. Always wash from the bottom up!

How To Clean Wallpaper

Cleaning wallpaper is very similar to cleaning paint, but you want to check manufacturer’s guidelines to see if your wallpaper if scrubbable or washable first. Some materials can’t have water applies to them at all, like bamboo, fabric, hemp, or cork wallpaper. These wall coverings should be dry dusted or vacuumed instead since water can cause irreversible damage to natural walling materials.

For moisture-safe wallpapers, you should still dust or dry sponge the walls first to see how much cleaner you can get them without involving liquid. For older wallpaper, make sure you use a gentle cloth and don’t scrub too hard. Otherwise, a generous few drops of dish soap in a bucket of water is appropriate.

When the water starts getting dirty, change it out so that you’re washing with clean water. You still want to make sure that it’s the same strength so that the whole wall matches. If possible, keep water changes between entire walls instead of changing the water mid-wall. This will help avoid visible different levels of cleanliness in lines or streaks across the wall. 

If you’re not sure about the cleaning technique you’re going to use, test it out in an out-of-place area like behind a mirror or a large piece of furniture to see how the wall reacts first.

How To Clean Exterior Walls

The first option for cleaning exterior walls is renting a pressure washer, but not all kinds of siding can withstand pressure washing. Exterior coverings like vinyl, steel, aluminum, wood siding, or hybrid siding may be sturdy enough for pressure washing (here’s how to correctly use a pressure washer on exterior siding). If you’re not sure, spot check an inconspicuous part of your exterior walls first to make sure not paint chips off.

Delicate wood shingles or stucco may withstand soft washing (using a garden hose) better. Even though soft washing is much more gentle, it’s still a good idea to spot check beforehand. Keep the hose moving back and forth because you could damage your exteriors if you focus too much in spot. A hose attachment like this one can make exterior washing easier. You can either just use water or mix it with a mild dish soap like on the interior walls, but still make sure you spot check first.

Check any water use restrictions in your area, especially during dry periods. Hosing down the entire exterior of your hose may use a lot of water (though the hose attachments help), so check any water restrictions first.

We are Bates Cleaning Service, a reputable and reliable residential and commercial cleaning service company in Austin, Cedar Park, and surrounding areas!

Featured photo credit: Pan Xiaozhen.