What Is the Best Way to Clean Walls Before Painting?

Person cleaning a wall with a rag

You’ve decided it’s finally time to add a splash of color to the kitchen or bathroom. Before breaking out the brushes and rollers, give the intended surface a thorough cleaning.

But what is the best way to clean walls before painting? Read on to learn how to clean your walls before painting.

How to Clean Walls Before Painting

Not sure if you should or how to clean your walls before painting? While it may seem like a chore, cleaning is an important step, as paint will adhere best to a clean surface, enhancing its durability. The most appropriate way to prepare a surface for painting often depends on the condition of the surface.

Exterior surfaces are typically more durable and can handle the punch of a pressure washer, while drywall, wood paneling, and stucco and other interior materials should be handled a little more gently.

Here are 5 tips to prepare walls for painting:

  1. Give It a Good Basic Scrub Rinse

In many instances, warm water and a sponge is all you need to make a wall paint-ready. Scrub the wall surface and be sure to clean corners and nooks well. But add a grease-cutting detergent to the water to remove scuffs and smears. Wipe clean with a damp towel afterward and allow it to dry completely before painting. This low-cost cleaning works well for adding a fresh coat to an already-painted space.

  1. Remove Mold and Mildew

If there is residual mildew or mold (possible if repainting a bathroom, basement or other humid space), use a solution of three-parts water to one-part bleach. If this step is skipped, untreated mildew could grow through and affect the new coat.

  1. A Chemical Clean

During a large-scale renovation, when particles, chemicals, and other materials may impact the integrity of your drywall, it’s best to wash the walls thoroughly with something stronger. Use a commercial cleaner such as Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) to make sure everything is deep cleaned. TSP removes dirt, grime, scuffs, soot, and all other manner of soiling. This process is a bit more expensive but will give you a surface that’s as spotless as possible.

  1. Sanding for a Smooth Finish

If you’re working on an older surface or one with chipping paint, sanding rough or uneven spots is important. Use fine grain sandpaper and a sanding block to smooth out any bumps or irregularities and wipe dust clean with a rag. Paint adheres better to a smooth surface.

  1. Exterior Preparation

If you’re painting the exterior siding of your home, there are two ways to clean the surface. The first and least labor-intensive is to employ a power washer to spray down the entire dwelling. The high pressure does an ample job of removing dirt, mildew, and whatever else, but can miss some finer details or damage siding if used improperly.

The alternative method is scrubbing by hand with TSP solution to ensure that everything is spotless. This will cost less than renting a power washer but is time- and labor-intensive.

What to Clean Walls with Before Painting

Here are the least-expensive-to-most-intensive types of products needed for painting prep:

  • Warm water and sponge
  • Warm water and sponge with added detergent
  • Bleach solution for mildew (3-parts water, 1-part bleach)
  • TSP or chemical cleaner
  • Power washer (exterior siding/walls only)

Prepped for Paint . . . Or Time to Pass This Project to the Professionals?

Cleaning walls for paint can be a chore, but you’ll benefit in the long run. Paint adheres better to clean surfaces, improving longevity (meaning less chance for a touch-up later).

If you’d prefer to bypass this whole cleaning and painting ordeal altogether, put it in the hands of a professional! Contact your local Five Star Painting today to get started. Call (888) 261-3633 or request an appointment online for a finish you’re guaranteed to love.