Home remedies for cleaning walls

Written by marion sipe
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Home remedies for cleaning walls
Try milder methods before resorting to scrubbing that might damage your paint. (Noel Hendrickson/Photodisc/Getty Images)

No matter what has marred once-fresh walls–crayon, marker, tape, smoke or oil–there are ways to get them clean without damaging the paint or wallpaper. Using common household cleaners, along with a damp cloth or sponge and a little elbow grease, you an keep your walls looking clean and bright.

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Tape can be tricky to get off the walls without pulling the paint away with it. However, warming a teaspoon and pressing it to the transparent tape for a few seconds weakens the adhesive and will let you pull it free–leaving the paint behind. Stickers can be another issue, but wiping them with vinegar, and waiting 15 minutes to let the vinegar react with the adhesive, can make pulling them off much easier.


Washable crayons need only water and effort to be cleaned away, but non-washable crayons requires a little more. A damp cloth or sponge dusted with baking soda will take off even non-washable crayon marks. Rub the area gently, then wipe it off and rinse with clean water.


Some markers are washable, and these should come off with the application of water and effort; however, if the marker is non-washable, there’s another way. Non-gel toothpaste on a damp sponge applied directly to the marker will get it off. Rinse the wall with warm water after the marker stain is gone. For marks made with a permanent marker, or marker stains that won’t come off any other way, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to gently scrub it away.


A paste of cornstarch and water, thick enough to stick to the wall without running, will soak up oil. Apply the paste to the stain and give it a few hours to dry. Once that’s done, brush the mess away and rinse with warm water if necessary.


Art gum erasers, the flexible putty kind, can remove many marks, especially if they’re light. For darker or more stubborn pencil stains, mix 2 tbsp baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply this to the stain and then wipe it off. For even more stubborn stains, try toothpaste on a damp sponge.


Scuffmarks also can be removed with an eraser, but try it on a small spot first to make sure the paint doesn’t rub off as well. If the eraser is too harsh for your paint job, dust a sponge with baking soda a give it a good wipe down.

Smoke Stains

Some fireplaces leave stains on your walls, but these can be removed with 1/2 cup Borax, two spoonfuls of mild dish soap, and a tablespoon of ammonia mixed into a gallon of warm water. Use a big, soft sponge and remember to keep clean rinse water on hand, so that you’re not wringing the dirty water from the sponge back into your cleaning solution.

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