We don’t often think about cleaning walls – or we do, but only when there’s a great big stain that we can’t ignore. But maintaining the walls is just as integral a chore as any other part of the house. And having a routine wall-cleaning method can go a long way to making this task easier and more efficient.
How to clean walls will depend on the material. Painted walls will require different methods than, say, tile walls. But the general cleaning supplies you’ll need to keep walls clean are warm water, a microfibre cloth or sponge, and liquid dish soap. For wall stains, you may need dish detergent, bicarb soda, or sugar soap.
No matter how clean everything else is, if you don’t have clean walls, your room will look lacklustre. Here’s your handy guide to wall cleaning based on the different materials and finishes.
Before You Begin Wall Cleaning
Always dust the walls before you clean them! This way, you won’t be wiping dust and grime onto the surface – which will just make things harder for you afterwards.
Also, don’t forget to clean your skirting boards afterwards!
How Often to Clean Walls
Weekly: Clean the area around light switches and doorknobs. Also, clean the walls of your shower area once a week to prevent a build-up of soap scum and minerals.
Monthly: Dust and deep clean walls. In high-traffic areas, twice a month would be better.
If you’re not up to deep cleaning all the walls in your house (and we don’t blame you – that’s a lot of surfaces!), then leave it to professional cleaners!
Cleaning Types of Painted Walls
Painted walls are one of the more common wall finishes. Make sure you know what type of paint was used on your walls so you know how to clean them!
How to clean flat-painted walls
Dull paint finishes like flat and satin are not as durable, so be gentle while cleaning. Avoid chemicals and degreasers, and don’t scrub too hard.
For cleaning flat-painted walls, you’ll need:
- Warm water
- Microfibre cloth
Simply dampen the sponge in water and wring it out until it’s almost dry. Wipe the walls clean, pausing to wet and wring your sponge when it gets dirty.
Wipe the walls dry with the microfibre cloth.
How to clean glossy painted walls
This type of paint is more hard-wearing, but is prone to scratching if you use an abrasive cleaning tool. For cleaning glossy walls, you’ll need:
- Warm water
- Dish soap
- Microfibre cloth
Add a few drops of the soap to your water and mix. Dip the sponge in and wring it out until it’s almost dry. Use the damp sponge to gently wipe your walls. Dry with a microfibre cloth.
How to clean latex painted walls
Latex paint is also quite durable, so you can use a non-abrasive multi-purpose cleaner. Mix it with warm water and use a clean sponge dipped in the solution to wipe the walls.
How to clean oil-based painted walls
Oil-based paints are often used for textured walls, so ensure you clean along any raised edges. For cleaning oil-based painted walls, use:
- Dish soap
- Warm water
- White vinegar
- Microfibre cloth
Mix 1 tsp of liquid dish soap and 1/4 tsp of white vinegar into a litre of warm water. Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution and use it to wipe the walls. Dry with a microfibre cloth.
For stains, let the mixture sit on the affected area for 10 minutes before wiping.
Cleaning stains off painted walls
Use a paste of bicarb soda and warm water to clean stains on painted walls. Make sure to scrub using a non-abrasive sponge or pad. You can also use diluted white vinegar.
If that doesn’t work, use a rag lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol.
Cleaning Other Wall Materials
Of course, paint isn’t the only available wall finish – there are other options, too! Here are some specialised wall materials and how to clean them.
How to clean wallpaper
Be careful when cleaning wallpapered walls – you could damage the finish, and that could lead to you replacing a swathe of the wallpaper! Avoid abrasive cleaners and cloths that might scrape or scuff your wall.
Wallpaper usually doesn’t need more than some dusting to clean. For scuff marks or smudges, use a gum eraser and be gentle. You can also use a dry cleaning sponge from a hardware store.
How to clean stone walls
The most common stone finishes for walls are granite, sandstone, and limestone. Since these are natural stones, avoid acid-based cleaning products such as vinegar. Instead, use stone soap or mild dish detergent.
Add a few drops of dish soap to your warm water, then dip a soft sponge or cloth into the mixture. Gently wipe the walls clean, then dry immediately afterwards so the moisture doesn’t seep into the stone.
How to clean brick walls
Start by mixing equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz the bricks and let the cleaning solution sit for a few minutes. Then use a sponge mop to clean the brick walls.
If your walls are particularly scuffed, you can use a soft-bristled scrub brush. Alternatively, mix 2–3 tbsp of dish soap with half a cup of bicarb soda. Spread it on the brick, let it sit for 5–10 minutes, then scrub it off. Use a damp cloth to wipe away the residue.
How to clean tile walls
For ceramic and porcelain tiles: mix half a cup of vinegar in a litre of water, and fill a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the tiles, then wipe with a damp, soft cloth.
For marble tiles: simply use warm water and a microfibre cloth. If there’s dirt build-up, add a few drops of liquid dish detergent to the water.
Don’t forget to clean the tile grout afterwards!
How to clean linoleum walls
Linoleum and vinyl are very durable and waterproof materials, which makes cleaning much easier. All you need is soapy water and a soft-bristled scrub brush. Dip the brush into the solution and start scrubbing! Then rinse with clean water and a damp microfibre cloth.
Cleaning White Walls
White walls can be a little finicky – stains and scuff marks show up more on a white background. You’ll also need to remove dust frequently so the walls don’t look dull and dirty. Thankfully, they’re very straightforward to clean.
For how to clean white walls, you can:
- Wipe away dirt with water and dish detergent
- Apply a paste of bicarb soda and water, then wipe away with a damp sponge
- Refresh the surface with an all-purpose cleaner or magic eraser
How to Clean Walls with Sugar Soap
It sounds sweet, but sugar soap isn’t actually sugar. It’s a granulated cleaner that resembles sugar, and can be used to clean walls and other surfaces as regular maintenance.
As with other cleaning methods, test the sugar soap on an inconspicuous area to ensure it causes no damage.
Mix 1 tbsp of sugar soap per 1 litre of water, then use a sponge to apply it to your home walls. Make sure you’re wearing cleaning gloves so you don’t touch the solution directly. Then take a second sponge and some fresh water, and use that to remove the residue.
Cleaning Stubborn Stains Off Walls
Mix 1/4 cup of bicarb soda with 1 tbsp of water to make a paste. Then take a clean cloth and gently rub the mixture onto the stain, using circular motions. Use a damp cloth or some warm water to rinse the residue.
Cleaning Sticky Residue Off Walls
If your little one has left stickers or you want to remove something glued to the wall – that’s gonna leave a sticky residue. Fortunately, it’s simple to remove! Just use some rubbing alcohol and let it sit for a minute or two, then rub it off with a clean cloth.
Cleaning Grease Stains Off Walls
For painted or tile walls, you can use diluted lemon juice or white vinegar to clean grease stains! The acidic properties of both substances can cut through grease and grime easily.
Mix a 1:1 solution of lemon juice or vinegar with water. Spray it on the affected area and wipe it away with a soft sponge.
Cleaning Mould Off Walls
If you’ve noticed mould and mildew on your walls, you’ll need to get rid of it ASAP. Start by assessing how deep the mould has grown – is the drywall or concrete compromised? If yes, then that’s a job for construction professionals. They’ll likely take out and replace your walls to remove the source of the mould.
If your drywall or concrete is intact, however, then you can remove the mould spots with some good old-fashioned elbow grease. You can either use bleach or white vinegar to clean mould off walls, although the latter is the more natural and less harsh option.
Cleaning mould using bleach: Mix one part bleach with three parts water, and apply using a rag or sponge. Always wear waterproof rubber gloves while working to protect yourself.
Cleaning mould using vinegar: Undiluted, mild white vinegar works to clean mould off your wall. Spray on the surface, then let it sit for 30 minutes. Wipe clean with water.
DIY Wall Cleaning Solution
You can skip the harsh chemicals and make your own natural cleaning solution to remove stains from walls! Just mix 1 tsp of dish soap and 1/4 tsp of white vinegar in a litre of warm water.
This mixture will work best on painted walls and tile, but avoid using it on stone and brick.