How to Wash Walls

Washing walls is an easy task to accomplish but a time consuming one. It’s important to know your wall coverings when choosing a cleaning product. Once you’re ready, follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Broom
  • Soft dry cloths
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Water
  •  2 Buckets
  • Sponge mop (optional)

Steps to Wash the Walls:

  1. Before washing the walls, you will need to remove any loose dirt and dust. Cleaning without removing these will result in creating and spreading mud. This will create a larger mess than you started with.
  2. There are several ways to remove the dry dust and dirt.
    • Use a vacuum with a brush attachment to vacuum the surface and remove the loose dirt.
    • Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe the surface of the walls. This can be done by hand or by wrapping a dry mop head or broom head with a soft cloth and brushing it over the surface.
  3. Once all of the dry dirt is removed, you are ready to wash the walls.
  4. Choose a cleaning product safe for your wall coverings. Most painted walls are safe to clean with an all purpose cleaner or a mix of 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda and 1 gallon of warm water.
  5. If you are unsure, start with plain water or just a small amount of cleaner. Test a hidden area to ensure there is no damage to the wall surface.
  6. Moisten a sponge, cloth or sponge mop with water and the desired cleaner. Start at the bottom and work in vertical sections to the top, wiping the surface of the wall until all of the dirt is removed. Overlap the cleaning areas to prevent streaks.
  7. Rinse with clean water from the second bucket.
  8. Move to the next section and repeat the cleaning and rinsing. Work your way around the room.
  9. If desired, dry the surface with clean, soft cloth or allow them to air dry. Ensure there no drips or it will leave a mark. 

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Walls do not need to be washed often if they are dusted and dry-wiped periodically. Save the washings for major cleanings to prevent damage or premature wear to your wall coverings.
  • Dusters that collect the dust, such as Swiffer Dusters, make great cleaners. Just wipe the cloth along the surface of the wall to remove dust and loose dirt.
  • Know your paint wall coverings before cleaning. While oil-based paints are safe to wash, water-based paints should only be cleaned if they have had ample time to cure. If the paint is fresh, it will be washed away during the cleaning process. Wall paper and other wall coverings should only be washed if they are waterproof.
  • If textured walls are tearing your sponge, use an old sock or soft cloth clean the surface.


  1. Rebecca says:

    Don’t try to wash textured walls you will just flake the texture off. Talk to your painter about the best way to clean them – it might just be repainting.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser is the best thing since bottled water! It will take just about anything off a white wall. Be careful with colored paint as it also can take the color off and leave you with streaks and blurs of paint.

  3. Rebecca says:

    In a pinch, baby wipes can clean a lot of stuff off walls. So if you have a little one who likes to throw their food, just grab a baby wipe and wipe off the wall.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Wash your walls from the top down. Any excess water is going to run down the wall and if you start at the bottom, by the time you get to the top you will have runs of dirty water all over your clean areas.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Kitchen walls are probably the dirtiest. Wash them more frequently with a cleaner that contains a degreaser. Pay close attention to the top of the walls as heat and all the dirt trapped in it will rise to the top.

  6. Rebecca says:

    A quick easy recipe for a cleaner is:

    2 tablespoons ammonia,
    2 tablespoons liquid detergent (like Dawn or Ivory for your dishes),
    and 1 quart water.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Make sure you change your water frequently during washing or else you are going to be putting dirty water over dirty walls.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Take down the pictures and anything else you have hanging on the wall. Not only will this be a good judge of whether the walls are clean, but if you leave them up they will just get water dripped or splattered on them.

  9. Rebecca says:

    You will also need to wash the molding around the room. So keep a rag for cleaning those with you, as well as a towel for drying. I like to do all the top moldings first, then wash the walls and finish with the bottom moldings.

  10. Rebecca says:

    If you have small children, you have had at least one instance of that little one coloring the walls with their crayons. Use a small amount on Endust and gently rub in a circular motion to remove the wax, then follow with your cleaner and wipe dry.

  11. Louise says:

    Swiffer Wet is the easiest and fastest way to clean your walls. It even takes off cigarette smoke residue with no scrubbing! It also leaves a clean scent with no need to rinse.

  12. Kam says:

    Textured walls can be cleaned with a sponge mop.

  13. Tanya says:

    The EASIEST way to clean walls without scrubbing and breaking your back is to get a portable steamer… one full tank of water cleans an entire wall. Sure it takes longer (because of the time it takes between full tanks and the heating process), but you can do other house work while you wait!

  14. Christina says:

    An easy way to remove crayon that your budding Picasso has applied to your walls and/or floors… Use a hairdryer to melt the wax, then wipe clean with a wet wipe, baby wipe or wet cloth.

  15. Himam says:

    How to clean the wall?

    First,you can clean the wall with:
    1. water
    2. the vacuum cleaner
    and 3. soap.

    It’s very simple; mix the soap and water.
    Clean the wall with a mix of this; then dry with a vacuum cleaner. After that, clean it once more.

  16. Elaine says:

    A product called Awesome that I buy for one buck at family dollar will clean everything from brake dust on wheels to rubber rafts. Inside, I spray it on all but sheet rock to clean awesome stuff and cheap!

  17. Kendall says:

    I so totally agree with Elaine. The Awesome cleaner that you get for a buck at any dollar store is the most amazing cleaner that I have ever seen. It will take any grime off of anything. Why spend a fortune on anything else when this stuff is terrific.

  18. Kris says:

    Give your cleaning solution a little time to work. Dampen the area to be cleaned without doing a lot of scrubbing yet. Go back to the area after a little while and the dirt will be easier to scrub off. Don’t forget to rinse with clean water, especially prior to painting. Cleaning product residue will attract dirt.

  19. Maria says:

    I like the Awesome product too. Never have used it on walls, but will try it today.

  20. Cleaning Lady says:

    People always use a “pinch” or a “splash” of a cleaning product. If the walls are terrible, then you need to add more than a pinch or splash.

    You need:
    *A bucket sponge mop and regular sponge
    *Hot water (Don’t burn yourself!)
    *2 cups of Original Scent Pine Sol

    I would first pour uncut ammonia in a spray bottle and spray the walls down. I would then scrub hard spots. Then I would use the Original Scent Pine Sol mixture and dunk my mop in there, squeeze the excess water out – and go to work.

    After the walls are completely dry, “eye” the walls. Go back with your ammonia filled spray bottle and go over any other visible spots. After you let the room air out, eye the room one more time.

    Quick tip: On occasions, wipe down the walls with Pine Sol to keep the walls fresh and clean. The smell is sensational. Don’t be afraid to use a large amount of the Pine Sol. If you don’t like the smell, use the Lemon.

  21. Joy says:

    My kitchen wall behind the stove-top, and the area behind the garbage can seem to catch splatters of food, grease and dust. I’ve had the best results by using the GEL version of “Shout” laundry pre scrub.

    I apply the gel to a sponge dampened with HOT water, and scrub the wall in circular motions. (The sponge should be wet enough to make “bubbles,” but not dripping wet.) Then, rinse sponge with HOT water & wipe off wall area. The “Shout” eats the grime up, and leaves a sparkling clean wall & a great scent in the room!

  22. Larry says:

    I use TSP mixed with water in a Hudson sprayer – the kind you pump up. I spray the walls, then use a sponge mop, then I use clean rags to dry.

  23. Kaye says:

    I am cleaning walls that are not white. They are dark colored walls. I am not sure if I should clean them differently. I am using Mr. Clean for wash and then clean rinse water, then dry. Any other advice? I did buy some Awesome, but I’m not sure about using it.

  24. Vimilimitex says:

    Vinegar and baking soda clean everything. No nasty chemicals, no money. Mother Nature, ain’t she grand?

  25. Christie says:

    White vinegar is a mild disinfectant. I use it on vinyl floors with warm water. I also use white vinegar and water for a window cleaner. Great wall cleaner is 1/2 cup borax, mixed bucket of warm water and 1 tsp. blue dawn dish soap. I like blue dawn the best. It also is great getting rid of grease on clothes. There is something in blue dawn that the other dawn products don’t have. Also keep a spray bottle under your kitchen sink with water and vinegar. Great for wiping up the blood from meat and handling poultry. White vinegar does leave your home smelling fresh and clean. All natural product. Can’t be beat!

  26. AmIWeird says:

    Am I weird? My early-20 kids think I’m weird for washing every wall in our home top to bottom at minimum once a year but preferably twice. How many times a year do you wash all walls top to bottom? I’m not talking about cleaning up traffic areas.

  27. Christie says:

    I wash my walls in the kitchen twice a year. Rest of the house once a year. I use 1/2 cup borax, bucket of really warm water, 1 teaspoon of Dawn BLUE Dishwasher detergent. Blue Dawn is the BEST for cutting grease. I wash my windows with pure distilled white vinegar. Leaves the windows shiny and streak free.

  28. Chai says:

    Do these solutions work for flat paint?

  29. Christie says:

    I moved into a house that was painted with flat wall paint. I did use my blue Dawn dishwasher detergent, and my borax. I didn’t have a problem with the walls. Christie

  30. SSS says:

    Do you use 1/2 cup borax regardless of the size bucket you’re using? Also, do you rinse with clear water after washing with the solution?

  31. Christie says:

    I just use a regular-size bucket. I use the 1/2 cup borax, warm water, teaspoon of blue Dawn. No, I didn’t rinse my walls after I was done. This is a good wall cleaner and I use it every time I wash my walls. Just make sure you use BLUE DAWN.

  32. Angie says:

    What’s a good cleaner?

  33. Margie says:

    NEVER, NEVER WASH WALLS FROM THE TOP DOWN! ALWAYS from the bottom up. The part that you already cleaned at the bottom is now clean, then wash the other part of the wall above it. When any water drips down it’s on the clean part that you have already washed below, then just wipe water that trickled down. Starting to wash the wall from the top, when water trickles down in the next part below you will end up with lots of steaks. Trust me; a relative of mine was a painter and decorator years ago and says that is the proper way to wash a wall! Just try it and you will soon see what I’m talking about! Wash the walls from the top down; NEVER. It’s all common sense!!! TRUST ME!!!

  34. Jen says:

    I run a “green” cleaning business and I use vinegar for everything. I add a few drops of lemon, lavender or orange oil. The house will smell amazing without the chemical smell. Takes a while to adjust without using the ammonia-based cleaners, but it’s truly amazing and cheap. Baking soda and borax are also wonderful for abrasive needs.

  35. Lynn says:

    I just bought a condo and the previous owners were smokers. What is the best cleaner to wash the walls and floors to get rid of the smoke smell and have a fresh, clean-smelling condo?

  36. Martha says:

    For the smell, 20 Mule Team Borax is your best bet. I have used it on everything from cloth diapers to urine-soaked couch cushions with great-smelling results. The secret is to soak: if I’m attempting to rid laundry of an offensive smell or safely bleach it, I stop the washer after it’s been mixed in well-I have soaked couch cushions in the bathtub overnight, mixed it with water and sprayed clean walls and floors down, made a paste and left it on fabric/carpet to dry overnight (good for stains and smells). I even use a sifter to douse my carpets periodically to freshen them up. I have not had an old smell return yet.

  37. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Smoke and Nicotine Stains from Wallpaper. I used the vinegar method (I had about a 1:5 ratio of white vinegar:water in the spray bottle) and it worked like a charm. Took the film and spots off walls, blinds, air vent covers, floorboards, the fireplace brick, the caulk lining the bathtub/toilet, etc. It was fantastic! Just diluted vinegar and several rolls of paper towels (and a weekend/radio/movie) was all I used. It is easier with a stronger solution; I did it first with a 1:8 ratio and it worked too, but not as well/quickly. (I figured that out over the multiple refills of the spray bottle.)
    This article is also helpful, How to Remove Tobacco Stains from Walls and Ceilings, but I have not tried any of those methods personally.
    I have all textured ceilings, so I couldn’t wipe/scrub them, so I just sprayed them with the diluted vinegar instead.
    For the carpet, I dampened the entire floor with (again) the spray bottle of diluted vinegar and scrubbed the damp carpet with a towel. If that isn’t enough and any carpet odor remains after the vinegar has dried completely, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda and vacuum the carpet the next day. This article will help for that: How to Remove Smoke Smell from Carpet.
    Brilliant, odorless rooms when finished.

  38. Martha says:

    I used baking soda before I switched to 20 Mule Team, the smell returns-many times; as soon as the item/area dries, sometimes days or weeks later-but after I do all that work, I would take the results with borax any day over baking soda.

  39. Patricia says:

    I wash my closet walls with Pine Sol and the washing cloth comes out black. Does anyone know why this happens? The walls are not even dirty.
    Any clues would be greatly appreciated.

  40. Denny says:

    I clean my walls with the outside ware hose on a mist setting; all the dirt runs down the wall and I dry it immediately with a towel; no scrubbing and the walls look amazingly clean.

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