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How to clean high ceiling beams

Updated February 21, 2017

High ceilings may look impressive, but over time the beams can gather enough dust and cobwebs to become real eyesores. Cleaning the beams once or twice a year prevents dirt from building up to that point. Unfortunately, though, with some vaulted and cathedral ceilings, just climbing a ladder with ordinary cleaning tools may not get you close enough to remove everything that's clinging to the beams. To really clean high ceiling beams, you'll need some specialised, high-reach tools.

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  1. Spread a painter's dust sheet, old sheet or newspaper on the floor under the part of the ceiling you want to clean first. Cover nearby hard-to-clean items, such as light-coloured furniture and rugs, with dust sheets or old sheets. Set up a step ladder or A-frame ladder on a sturdy, even part of the covered floor.

  2. Hook up your vacuum's hose attachment. Line up one end of a PVC pipe with the end of the hose attachment. Tightly wrap the touching ends in duct tape two or three times. Turn on the vacuum. Leaving the vacuum on the floor by the ladder, climb the ladder and aim the end of the PVC pipe at larger cobwebs and clumps of dust to suck them down.

  3. Attach a synthetic or lambswool duster head to the end of a telescoping cleaning pole. If you need to clean a heavy layer of dust, use a synthetic brush head instead. Extend the cleaning pole to the length you need. Climb the ladder until you're close enough to the beams to sweep the duster head on the tops and sides.

  4. Mix four or five drops of mild liquid soap in a gallon of warm water. Attach a sponge head to the telescoping cleaning pole. Dampen the sponge head in the soapy water. Use this to wipe down only those areas with sticky or stubborn dirt that dusting didn't remove. Dry the spots with a clean, dry, flat mop head attached to the cleaning pole.

  5. Tip

    Wax or polish wood ceiling beams to further improve their appearance. Apply paste wax for long-lasting protection or furniture polish for temporary shine and a pleasant scent.


    Wear a dust mask while cleaning ceiling beams to avoid inhaling falling dust and debris. Always follow safety instructions for using a ladder. If you do not feel comfortable with heights or have a physical ailment that could interfere with balancing yourself on a ladder, find a professional to do this for you.

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Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets
  • Step or A-frame ladder
  • Vacuum with hose attachment
  • 1 1/2-inch diameter by 48-inch length PVC pipe
  • Duct tape
  • Telescoping cleaning pole with cleaning heads
  • Liquid soap
  • Bucket

About the Author

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