How to clean walls
Preparing walls for washing

If you’ve ever got into spring cleaning or needed to paint, you know what a hard time you can have washing walls. The yellow streaks seem to be harder to get off than the original mess, and you can never seem to reach the ceiling.

Start with the right solution. Washing walls need not take all day if you have the right equipment. If it is a light cleaning, you can use liquid laundry detergent and water. If you are repainting a once smoke filled room, there are commercial chemical cleaners available at any hardware store that you should invest in. These commercial cleaners contain smoke eating enzymes that will help dissolve nicotine, keeping it from sticking to the wall if it runs down in drips. Be sure to test any chemicals you use on an area of the wall where it won’t hurt if the cleaning solution takes off the paint.

Use appropriate cleaning detergent

Different cleaners at specific strengths are good for different kinds of paint, so be sure you read your labels. Using industrial cleaner for oil based paint when your walls are water based could mean that you end up redoing more of the room than you originally intended. I have read other articles which advocate starting from the bottom and working upward when washing walls. This is supposed to be because it is easier to clean drips off of already clean walls, but I think it’s just making extra work for the wall washer. Start at the top and allow gravity to run its course, I say, and be liberal with your cleaning solution.

Prepare the walls beforehand by   removing any dust, lint and cobwebs

Clean out lint traps like overhead screens or filters before you start so that when you decide to run the broom across them, they don’t spit out their lint on your fresh walls. Likewise for ceiling lamps and fans, dust them well before you start on the walls. You will want to go over a very dirty wall twice, once with the cleaning solution and again with a rinse. A flat headed mop or a wall mop from a janitorial supply company is a good investment, and janitorial supply companies sell mops for washing walls with extendable handles so you won’t have to balance on a ladder or step stool. Lay down plastic or canvas tarp to cover any carpeting that might get strong solution on it. Chemicals that are safe for the paint might eat through carpet, or at least cause a stain. Open windows to allow for as much ventilation as possible, and read all the directions on any chemicals to ensure that it’s okay to mix them.

Washing walls is more fun and goes faster with help. If you can get four people, one for each wall, then you’re in business to get the job done right and in a timely manner. Make a party out of it and get a jump start on your spring cleaning and repainting projects.       

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