How to Clean Kitchen Walls Before Painting

Updated February 21, 2017

A fresh coat of paint on your kitchen's walls serves to brighten and improve the way the area appears. Yet, kitchen walls attract grease, dust and dirt, all of which should be eliminated before applying any new paint. Proper wall preparation includes cleaning before painting so that the paint will adhere well to the surface and last for many years.

Rub a clean tack cloth over the surface of the kitchen walls in order to remove surface dust. Wipe the cloth in the corners of walls and near the ceiling.

Put on a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, closed-toe shoes, rubber gloves and safety glasses to protect your skin and eyes from the trisodium phosphate cleaner. Place a plastic dust sheet or tarp on the floor to protect it from spills.

Inspect the walls for any greasy spots. Pour a 1/2 cup of paint thinner into a disposable container and dip a sponge in it. Squeeze lightly to remove excess paint thinner.

Apply the paint thinner to the greasy area of the wall with the sponge. Allow the paint thinner to remain on the area for approximately one minute. Blot the area with an absorbent cloth.

Fill a large container or a bucket with one gallon of warm water. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of trisodium phosphate powder to the water and stir with a stirring stick until the TSP is dissolved. The amount of cleaner you add to the water should be according to the condition of the walls. The more soiled they are, the more powder you should add to the water.

Dip a rinsed scrubbing sponge into the cleaning solution and squeeze lightly to remove excess liquid. Work in 2-foot-by-2-foot sections and scrub from the bottom up to remove soiling. Allow the cleaning solution to remain wet on the sections of wall for 2 to 3 minutes.

Fill a bucket or container with 1 gallon of warm water and dip a non-abrasive sponge into the plain water. Squeeze lightly to remove excess water. Apply the water, with the sponge, to the previously cleaned area to rinse.

Rinse out the sponge and repeat as needed. Change out the water used for rinsing as it becomes cloudy. Allow the walls to dry for 24 hours before painting.


No-Rinse TSP is available if you don't want to have to rinse the walls after cleaning. The strength of this product is not as potent as that of regular TSP, so if you have heavily soiled walls, you may want to opt for the stronger product.


Trisodium phosphate can result in burns if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes. Always wear protective clothing and eyewear to prevent this from occurring.

Things You'll Need

  • Tack cloth
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long trousers
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Paint thinner
  • 2 non-abrasive sponges
  • Absorbent cloth
  • Trisodium phosphate cleaner (TSP)
  • 2 containers or buckets
  • Stirring stick
  • Scrubbing sponge
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About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.