How to Wash Painted Walls Without Disturbing the Paint Job

Cleaning walls is a task often put on the back burner. The sheer size of a wall makes cleaning it less than appealing. But the fact is, painted walls get dirty and need to be cleaned periodically. Don't just head to the cleaning cabinet and grab some spray and start scrubbing your walls. Care must be taken to choose the right products and use the right method to clean painted walls without disturbing your paint job.

Dust off your walls with a dry rag or soft brush vacuum cleaner attachment. This will remove loose dirt and debris from the walls. Work from the top of the walls down when dusting. Vacuum the floor and baseboard after dusting to get rid of dirt and dust that may be stirred up and transferred back onto the walls.

Mix a cleaning solution into one bucket and fill another bucket with plain water for rinsing. For light cleaning, fill a bucket with a gallon of warm water and mix in a few squirts of mild dish soap. If the walls are really dirty, use 1 gallon of water and 2 tbsp of ammonia, or 2 tbsp of powdered washing powder or 1 tbsp of trisodium phosphate. If you want to ensure you don't mess up the paint, however, opt for the soap and water solution. The stronger cleaning solutions may take off some paint.

Start at the bottom of the wall and work your way toward the top. Dip a rag into the cleaning solution and wring it out well. Wipe down a 3 square-foot section of the wall with the rag using a gentle, circular motion. Immediately rinse that same section with a clean rag and the clean water. Dry promptly with a clean towel.

Repeat the process of washing a 3 square-foot section of the wall with the cleaning solution, rinsing with the clean water then drying the wall until you reach the top. Once you are at the top, inspect the wall for any streaks or dirty spots you may have missed. Go over these spots with a dry towel if they are wet, or a damp cloth with clean water if the spot is dry.


Put on old clothes and a pair of rubber gloves. To keep water from dripping up your arm while cleaning, wear a long-sleeved shirt and put a rubber band around each wrist to make the shirt tight so water can't creep up your arm.


Always test the cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall before washing the entire surface. Never mix cleaning products as the results could be toxic. Work in a well-ventilated area if using ammonia or trisodium phosphate.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • 2 buckets
  • Mild dish soap, ammonia, powdered washing powder or trisodium phosphate
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About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.