Spring Cleaning: Wash Your Walls

wiping a surface with a towel
Have a list of house cleaning you've been checking off? Don't forget to add washing the walls to round out a thorough cleaning. Never heard of that? Well, whether you have small children, pets or just an old paint job, your walls have accumulated dirt and dust that need to be removed. Outlined below are the best steps for cleaning painted walls without damaging your paint job. We found a lot of great tips on this topic in a Bob Vila article, which you view by clicking here.

Step 1: Don’t Forget to Dust!

Before you dive into wall washing, be sure to get rid of the dust bunnies! Run the dust brush attachment of your vacuum over ceilings and walls. This step in itself may yield a dramatically brighter appearance of your paint color.

Step 2: Which Type of Paint Do You Have?

Figuring this out is the most important step. Types of paint that hold-up the best during cleaning are semi-gloss and glossy enamel paints. However, flat, satin, and eggshell latex paints may not do so well. There’s a risk of the color fading or rubbing off with overly abrasive wall washing. So, how best to proceed? If you already know you have a “trouble type” of paint, we recommend either putting on a fresh coat, or hiring a professional wall cleaner. If you don’t remember which type of paint you used, you can always test a small section first before launching into the project. This should probably be done first, even if you know you have semi-gloss and glossy enamel paints.

Step 3: Use Your Test Spot to Choose the Best Cleaning Solution

Once you have chosen your test spot, begin with the simplest cleaning option – water on a cellulose sponge. Gently scrub the test spot, and let it dry. Then, examine the possible outcomes:

  • If you notice any smudging or color fading, stop immediately.
  • If the spot is clean, continue the water and sponge technique across the whole wall.
  • If you have not made a dent in the dirt, continue to Step 4.

Step 4: Test Other Cleaning Solutions

Need to up the ante in the fight against grime? Here are a few other cleanings solutions you can try:

  • A simple mixture of warm water and mild detergent soap
  • 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda to one gallon of warm water


  • Be sure to work in sections, and rinse your sponge or cloth out with clean water before beginning each new portion of the wall. If you skip this step, you’ll just move the dirt from one part of the wall to the other.
  • Place old towels, sheets or newspapers under you to help protect the floor from drips.
  • As you clean, rub in gentle circular motions to minimize risk of stripping the paint. Let the surface dry well before touching it further.

Remember, if after staring at your walls during the cleaning process you realize that the color just is not doing it for you anymore, you can call the painting professionals at Five Star Painting to change it up. We offer free onsite estimates, and you can book one directly on our site here or by calling 888-261-3633.