How to Clean Painted Walls

If you haven’t taken a good look at your walls lately, you’ll be surprised at what you find when you do. A close examination will reveal quite a bit more dirt and dust than you may have seen behind those more obvious crayon drawings and sticky hand-prints. Whether you want to brighten up a room or get rid of stubborn wall stains, this is what you need to know to get painted walls looking like new again!

The follow methods are recommended for painted wall surfaces.

Removing Dirt and Dust from Walls:

You Will Need:

  • Ladder
  • Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
  • Mild detergent
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Dry towel
  • Plastic drop cloth

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by lining the floor with plastic where you’ll be working to prevent damage from excess water or spills.
  2. Use your vacuum’s brush attachment to remove loose dirt and cobwebs. Do not push the brush onto the wall surface, as loose dirt may smudge and leave marks. Allow the vacuum’s suction to lift the dirt away from the wall.
  3. Start at the top of the wall. You’ll want to clean from side to side and from the top to bottom in sections as you work around the room.
  4. Fill the bucket half to two thirds full of warm water.
  5. Add just enough detergent to create a few bubbles when the water is agitated. Adding too much soap will cause the walls to become sticky and attract more dirt.
  6. Dip the sponge in the water and squeeze out excess water.
  7. Wipe the wall down as explained in step three, stopping to wet and rinse the sponge frequently.
  8. Use the dry towel to wipe up excess moisture as you work.

Removing Crayon from Walls:

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Use the dull knife to remove excess crayon from the wall.
  2. Next, simply rub the wall with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The crayon should lift right up. If you don’t have one, skip to the next step.
  3. Using a mild detergent mixed with water, rub the crayon spot until any remaining marks lift off.
  4. Use the towel to dry the wall.

Removing Marker and Ink:

If the marker is washable, a wet paper towel or baby wipe will remove it easily. If that doesn’t work, follow these steps.

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. First, try attacking the stain with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pad. If walls are textured, use the heavy duty version.
  2. If that doesn’t work, spray the stain with hairspray.
  3. Rub the wet spot gently with a paper towel or rag.
  4. Repeat the process if it appears to be working. It may take multiple attempts. Wipe gently to protect the paint.
  5. If stain remains, coat it with plain toothpaste.
  6. Wait 10 minutes before wiping clean.

Removing Coffee, Wine, & Other Beverages:

Most drink splatters are easy to remove, especially if you catch then before they set. However, due to the lack of absorbency of a wall, even if the stain has dried, you should still be able to clean it up by following these directions.

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Fill the bucket half full with warm water.
  2. Add just enough detergent to get a few bubbles when the water is agitated.
  3. Wet the cloth in the water and run gently on the stain.
  4. Rinse the cloth and repeat as necessary.
  5. If stain remains, dry the area thoroughly with a towel before moving on to step six.
  6. When the surface has dried, rub the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser over the stain.

Additional Tips and Advice:

  • Never heavily soap a wall. The residue is very difficult to remove and it attracts and holds dirt and grime.
  • Baby wipes will work on many wall messes – no water or detergent necessary!
  • Spot test before using chemicals, especially if you have not used one before.
  • When washing large portions of a wall, start at the top and work from side to side as you move down the wall.
  • To prevent water from running down your arms, cut the toe out of an old sock and pull it over your hand like a sleeve, then scrunch it up near your wrist.
  • Rubber gloves will help protect your hands from excess moisture.
  • Open windows and use fans for ventilation if you use harsh chemicals or those with strong fumes.


  1. Janet says:

    In my professional experience, when washing walls, you should start from the bottom and work your way up to avoid drip marks on the walls, which can be hard to remove.

  2. Judy says:

    I agree with Janet W. – streams of water running down the wall through the unwashed area will leave little trails that are surprisingly noticeable even after you’ve finished cleaning the whole wall. Working from bottom to top is best!

  3. Helen says:

    Please could someone help me. I was cleaning dirty marks off the wall and when I stood back, I found lots of shiny patches everywhere I had cleaned. It is very noticeable. I tried painting over the patches with left over paint but it made no difference. I also tried washing the wall with plain water but all the shiny patches are still there. It is very noticeable as natural light from the windows shines onto the wall. Could someone please tell me how I can get rid of these shiny patches? Thank you.

  4. Francisco says:

    An impressive share! I gave this article to a colleague who was looking for this information and he brought breakfast to me as thanks for discovering it. :) So, thanks for the treat! In seriousness though, thanks for spending the time to discuss this. Cleaning is important to me and I always enjoy learning more about it. As your website grows, would you consider updating existing articles with extra details? The details are so helpful. Big thumbs-up for this blog!

  5. Maria says:

    This advice is very helpful, but I need to know why dust just sticks to my walls and ceiling. Also, I have allergies to dust, so I need to get rid of it. True story: I have to dust every other day. PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS PROBLEM! Thanks. Hope to hear from someone soon. Maria

  6. Melanie says:

    If there has been any construction in your home in the past couple of years, it could be the construction dust. If so, this is the article that you need: Removing Interior Construction Dust. This article might also help: How to Remove Dust from the Air.

  7. Barb says:

    I recently used a Magic Eraser to get spots off of a wall. Some of the spots are now somewhat dull. What can I do to lessen the dull spots on the wall? The lighting there is not great so it will not need to be completely perfect.

  8. CC says:

    I have a closet that is right next to the toilet room of the bathroom. Some of my clothes come out smelling like a dirty bathroom. Any suggestions?

  9. Melanie says:

    Try putting an odor-absorber in the closet. A bowl filled with baking soda should work fine, or you can use activated charcoal, which is supposed to work particularly well on organic odors. You can also use coffee grounds, which will absorb the bad odor, but it will also deposit a coffee smell in its place. There are more ideas in the article How to Remove Rotten Food Odor from House.
    Giving the closet a thorough cleaning might help you to start fresh as well. See the article How to Clean Your Closet for more info on doing that.
    Another idea is to burn a scented candle or light a match in the bathroom after you poop as that can help to cover the smell. Turning on a fan or opening a window can also help.
    Source: HubPages – How to Remove the Poop Smell from the Bathroom

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