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How to clean a painted wall

How to clean a painted wall

With the better weather on its way, it is common for homeowners to start thinking about a spring clean. One aspect of the home that should be given the once over are the walls – however much you try to avoid it, walls inevitably pick up dust and dirt and the odd scuff and hand mark over a year.

However, cleaning a painted wall is a skill in itself. You need to clean it thoroughly enough to leave it spotless but avoid being too vigorous that you end up removing or damaging the paint and spoiling the look of the paint job.

Here is ‘Little Knights’ step-by-step guide to cleaning a painted wall...



  1. Remove all paintings, mirrors and other hangings, so the wall is clear to work across.
  2. If there is furniture near or against the wall, move it away towards the centre of the room to ensure you have adequate working space.
  3. Place a plastic sheet, newspaper or dust cloth along the wall where you are working to protect the floor and catch any dirt or water that may drop down.


Dust down

  1. Your initial clean should be to remove any loose dust or dirt. One way of doing this is to run the vacuum cleaner head across the wall, being careful not to touch the wall and smudge any dirt but just to suction dirt from its surface. Another idea is to cover a broom head with a towel and wipe across from the top down.
  2. Don’t forget to dust the skirting boards and architraves which always pick up their fair share of grime.

Wash down    

  1. Fill a bucket with warm water and enough detergent to make a few bubbles. Using a clean sponge or lint-free cloth, slowly and softly work across the wall from the bottom up, moving your hand in a circular motion. Make sure the sponge isn’t too wet – and rinse it at regular intervals.
  2. If your walls are particularly dirty, there are a few homemade solutions you could try, such as 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda to one gallon of warm water.
  3. Don’t press too hard or be too vigorous as you may scrub off some of the paint.


Rinse down

  1. Go over the same area with a different damp cloth or sponge dipped in a fresh bucket of warm water to remove the soapy water. If you leave the soap on the wall it will become sticky and attract more dirt and dust.
  • If the wall is large work in sections, soaping then rinsing it down before moving onto another part of the wall.
  • If you are unsure whether the wall is suitable for cleaning in this way, choose an out of the way small section of the wall and go through this process to see if it fades or spoils the paint in any way.

To finish

  1. Use a towel to gently dry the wall - again don’t scrub, just pat, and open a door or window to let the air flow in and aid the drying process.
  2. Clean up the dust covers, put the furniture back and sit down and enjoy your new walls.


Top tips

    • Working with a wet sponge with your arms up can mean water runs down your arm and up your sleeve. An old pair of washing up gloves can help but a top tip is to find an old pair of socks, cut the toe-end off and put them over your hand, scrunched up around your wrist, and they will soak up any water that runs down.
    • Never heavily soap a wall as the residue is very tricky to get off, maybe more so than the original dirt!
    • Baby wipes can work wonders but be careful as they can remove the paint if used too vigorously.
    • Matte and other similar finishes are the trickiest to clean due to the surface structure. If you are decorating a room that will need frequent cleaning, then think about using a silk or gloss finish as these withstand being wiped down better (though we would still recommend spot testing first).
    • Work from bottom to top as otherwise water can drip down on to the dry sections below and if left can be tricky to remove later.


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