Tuesday, 08 July 2014 02:19

Your complete how-to guide to cleaning interior walls

Your Complete How-To Guide To Cleaning Interior Walls

The key to cleaning your walls successfully is to know precisely what surfaces are involved. Oil- and water-based paints require different levels of care, for instance, while special caution must be taken when spot-cleaning non-washable wallpaper. If you’re not confident you’ll get this right, call in a professional cleaning company such as DBG Cleaning. Our number is 1300 732 006 or you can email us at info@dbgcleaning.com.auThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    

The basics of cleaning your walls

In most cases, this four-step method applies: Dust, spot-clean, wash and then rinse and dry.

Clean Walls

Cleaning a wall requires attention and care,
but the result makes all the work worthwhile

Preparation tips

Read our guidelines as they apply to your type of wall or covering and gather the solution ingredients and equipment they recommend. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself raiding the bread bin ... Cover the flooring and any furniture near the walls. Old sheets or towels are good for this.

Dusting – the first step

The first cleaning step is always dusting the wall. This will remove any loose dirt and dust that otherwise will turn to mud when moisture is applied. For this task, preferably use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attached. Be careful not to press firmly as this will only grind any grime deeper. You can use a broom, too – if it has strong bristles, tie a rag over its head. If you strike any dried dirt during this stage, remove with a dry sponge.



Tip: Walls do not need to be washed frequently (which could damage their coverings) if they are dusted and dry-wiped semi-regularly.

Spot cleaning your wall – a general guide

Always attend to stains and marks before washing your wall, and always do a test clean on one small, inconspicuous area – especially if the covering is a latex (water-based) paint or non-washable wallpaper.

Here’s a great tip – baby wipes will work on most blemishes.

No baby wipes in the house? You could fill a one-litre spray bottle with 950mls of warm water, add a teaspoon of lavender oil and shake well. You might think that nearly a litre is too much. Well, it makes both a useful spot cleaner and a good general wall cleaner – and the fragrance it leaves will lift your mood.

Another all-purpose stain remover that will remove most marks is easy to make. Simply blend baking soda and water into a paste, which you dab onto the stain with a cleaning cloth and then wipe gently until it disappears.

For stains on walls painted with gloss or semi-gloss paint, spray with WD-40 and then wipe away – this removes most common stains.

Or you can use soapy water to remove any grease stains. Make the solution only strong enough to be effective. Add too much detergent and you will make your walls “sticky”, which means they will trap dust that will turn intro grime.



Tip: If there are skateboarders’ kneepads in your home, borrow them – these will save discomfort while kneeling.

Spot cleaning your wall – attacking specific stains

Here are specific solutions for specific marks. As always, test them by cleaning a tiny, unobtrusive area first.

  • Crayon: Gently scrape away as much of the crayon as you can with a plastic spoon. Dab crayon marks with a little toothpaste, leave in place for five minutes, and then wash away. Turpentine applied by the means of a cloth is also effective. Or, alternatively, spray with hairspray, and then rub gently, repeating the process until you succeed in removing the marks.
  • Grease: Use toothpaste on more stubborn grease stains. Apply, leave for 10 minutes then wash off with a vinegar-and water-solution. One substance that works on grease stains on both washable and non-washable wallpaper is bread. Ensure its colour broadly matches the colour of the wallpaper (ie, use rye bread on darker wallpaper). Simply rub the bread against the stain until it goes.
  • Ink, fingerprints and dark marks (on painted surfaces): Moisten a ball of cotton wool with hairspray and rub over the ink blemish. Do this gently. You can substitute methylated spirits or eucalyptus for the hairspray. More easily obtained might be toothpaste, which you can also use on wallpaper. Apply this to the stain, leave for 10 minutes and then wipe or wash away.

Basic rules for cleaning your wall

Now you have removed those unsightly stains, it is time to clean your wall.
Note that not all walls can be washed. If your wall is painted with an oil-based paint or has vinyl-coated wallpaper, washing it should be fine. If the paint is water-based (latex) but has cured, again washing should be OK. But if the paint is water-based and has yet to cure, leave it be. And if the wall is covered in older wallpaper that does not have a vinyl coating, see the section below.
When washing a wall, the golden rule applies. Whatever the surface, test-clean a small, not easily seen area. If you’re happy with the result, continue.
Start washing at the base of the wall and work upward. To avoid streaking, immediately mop up any drips or runs into the area you have already cleaned.



Tip: If the rough surface of your wall is tearing your sponge, rub with old pantyhose instead. Old socks are good, too.

Rinsing and drying your interior walls

After cleaning, wipe down with a soft cloth or an electrostatic dusting wipe moistened with warm, clean water and then dry with old pantyhose or a second soft cloth or wipe. If you’ve used the water-and-vinegar solution, you will not need to rinse as vinegar does not streak. 

Cleaning washable walls

Cleaning walls that are painted in oil-based, gloss or semi-gloss paint or bearing wallpaper that has a vinyl coating should be relatively fuss-free. If these walls are lightly to moderately dirty, the home-made lavender-water cleaner mentioned earlier will leave behind a mood-lifting fragrance. To make it, simply fill a one-litre spray bottle with 950mls of warm water, add a teaspoon of lavender oil and shake well.
Warm, soapy water should work, too. You want this to be just strong enough to be effective, so add just enough detergent to bucket of water to create a bubble or three when stirred. Make this solution too strong and your walls will be “sticky” – and will hold more dirt and dust.
If the grime on your walls is proving difficult to shift, add a cup of white vinegar to a bucket of water. For something stronger still, substitute a cup of ammonia for the vinegar (but don’t mix the vinegar and ammonia – it is bad chemistry).



Tip: To keep your arms dry when washing higher areas, wear tennis wristbands or old socks, glove-style and bunched at the wrists.


Cleaning walls painted with water-based paint

If the paint on these walls has not yet cured, either let them be or call in a professional to do the work or for advice. You can call us. The DBG Cleaning number is 0468 993 333 and our email address is info@dbgcleaning.com.auThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dust and then spot clean – but more so than ever you must do a test-clean on a small, hard-to-see area first.
If the paintwork stands up to your test, spot-clean all the marks and blemishes.
You can wash a wall painted with water-based paint if it has cured. Start off by “washing” a section with plain warm water (actually, apply the water with a sponge dipped in water and wrung well). If this is ineffective, try a weak water-and-detergent solution. Next in your armoury is the mix of water and white vinegar. If this fails to bring results, you should consider repainting the wall.
Do not rub with anything abrasive, do not use ammonia and do not use elbow grease – this is work that should be done gently.

How to clean non-washable wallpaper

Cleaning non-washable wallpaper, especially antique wallpaper, is tricky – again, the best way to tackle this cleaning job might be to call in DBG Cleaning Cleaning Services. However, a good job is not beyond an amateur who is prepared to apply thought and care and is open to innovation.
Dust and then treat any stains (once more, test-clean a tiny, unobtrusive area).
Here are two methods to deal with grease stains. One is to hold absorbent paper against the stain and then something with heat to the paper, such as a small pot warmed on the stove (you might find this easier to handle than a heavy iron). A second method is to use a paste of cornflour or talcum powder with a little water. Smear this onto the stain, let dry and then brush away.
For hard-to-shift fingerprints or ink marks, try a paste of baking soda and water or toothpaste and the method used above. Wiping with cotton balls moistened with eucalyptus oil can be effective, too.
For crayon marks, firstly scrape it off with a plastic spoon or a plastic knife (don’t apply any serrated edges). Then rub gently with a rubber (eraser).
As mentioned earlier, bread works on grease stains on both washable and non-washable wallpaper. Use dark bread (ie rye) on darker wallpaper, lighter-coloured bread on light wallpaper. Just rub against the stain until it goes. Do not wash this wallpaper – dry-clean it instead. To do this, generously apply cornflour using a brand-new microfibre cloth, leave it for 10 minutes and then brush or vacuum away.    

How to clean cork-tiled walls

Wipe with a soft cloth and warm to hot water. Let it dry naturally. If you strike a stain that will not shift, rub with a soft cloth dipped into a one-to-10 mix of methylated spirits and water (after squeezing out any excess moisture).

How to clean varnished interior wooden walls

Dust and then spot clean with a weak mix of soapy water. Rinse, then wipe dry with a soft cloth or old pantyhose.

How to clean a brick wall

Walls made of brick need little fuss. One of the home-made cleaners mentioned above can be used on the stains and marks – just ensure the water is hot. If the mortar on your brick (or tiled walls, for that matter) is especially grimy, drizzle a little chlorine bleach into your bucket of cleaning solution. 

Mould and grime around light switches

Step one: Turn off the mains! Step two: Double check that you have turned off the mains! You get the picture ...
When it is safe to get to work, wipe away any mould or grime on and around the switches with a soft cloth dabbed into a weak mix of white vinegar and water (after squeezing out any excess moisture). Work carefully to ensure no moisture goes inside the switch. Ensure switches and their surrounds are dry before turning the power on again.

Mould on bathroom walls

The white vinegar and water solution is best for this work. The most efficient way to dry bathroom walls is to use a mop, preferably with a new head.


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