What To Clean Walls With Before Painting:  A Complete Guide!

Removing crayon marks from a wall with a sponge in Yonkers

What To Clean Walls With Before Painting:  A Complete Guide!

You spend ages picking the perfect paint color, spend many hours to prep the furniture, and then slap on that first coat on the wall and…it looks like a bumpy mess. What happened? What went wrong? Probably dirty walls.

Painted brick wall with geometric design in White PlainsWhat to clean walls with before painting is a super important step that a lot of folks forget. As a result of which, not only you waste paint but your hard work and time as well.

To help you out in this regard, we’ll educate you on what to clean walls with before painting. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Cleaning Walls Before Painting Makes a Huge Difference?

Dirty walls are one of the major reasons behind bad paint jobs. Here’s why cleaning your walls before painting is super important:

Sticky Situation: Dirt, dust, cobwebs, and even crayon marks act like a layer of glue. They prevent the paint from sticking properly to the wall, making it more likely to peel or look uneven.

It’s a Blank Canvas: Imagine painting a masterpiece on a dirty canvas. It wouldn’t look its best, right? A clean wall is like a blank canvas for your paint. It creates a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to, resulting in a flawless, professional-looking finish.

A Step-By-Step Guide on What to Clean Walls With Before Painting

Step1 – Preparing the Room for Cleaning

Cleaning a wall with a spray bottle and blue cloth in TuckahoeFirst things first, we have to make some space. Move furniture away from the walls and drape the floors with drop cloths. Secure them with tape for good measure – you don’t want paint splatters making a surprise appearance later.

Take down pictures, shelves, and anything else hanging on the walls. Label them clearly so you can put them back effortlessly after painting. Finally, use painter’s tape to cover light switch covers and outlets.

Step2 – Eliminating Dust: A Crucial First Step

Dust is the enemy of good paint adhesion, so we gotta banish it before it wreaks havoc. Start at the ceiling and work your way down the walls in sections that are easy to manage. Use a microfiber mop or a dedicated dust cloth – this way, the dust falls down and gets caught by the drop cloths below.

Don’t forget the corners and the ceiling line – cobwebs and dust love to lurk there. Grab a cobweb brush or a damp cloth to get rid of those pesky visitors. Good lighting is key here, hence, open the curtains and turn on all the lights to make sure you catch every speck of dust.

Step 3: Selecting the Right Cleaning Solution for Your Walls

Close-up of a scrub brush for cleaning wallsThe best cleaning solution depends on the type of dirt and paint you’re dealing with:

Warm Water and Dish Soap: This is your all-around workhorse for most walls. Just mix a few drops of mild dish soap in a bucket of lukewarm water. It’s gentle enough for most surfaces and effective at removing light dirt and grime.

White Vinegar Solution: For greasy splatters in the kitchen or those artistic masterpieces your kids left on the walls in their room, white vinegar can be your knight in shining armor. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply the solution to the stain, let it sit for a few minutes to loosen the grime, and then gently scrub the area with a damp cloth. Rinse the area with clean water and dry thoroughly.

TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) for Stubborn Stains: This is a powerful cleaning agent that’s ideal for heavily soiled walls or walls with flat paint. But be warned, TSP is a stronger chemical and requires more caution. Wear gloves and goggles when using it, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and application. Rinse the walls thoroughly with clean water after using TSP, and make sure the room is well-ventilated during cleaning.

Important Note: Before you go crazy with any cleaning solution on your walls, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t discolor the paint.

Step 4: Cleaning the Walls

Cleaning a wall with a spray bottle and redGrab a clean sponge or a non-abrasive cloth and dip it in your cleaning solution. Wring it out thoroughly – you want it damp, not dripping wet. Work in small sections, starting from the top and working your way down the wall.

Use gentle, circular motions while cleaning, and avoid scrubbing too hard if you don’t want to damage the wall surface.

Rinse the cleaning solution frequently with clean water to prevent soap residue from building up on the walls. Use a separate damp cloth to remove any cleaning solution streaks.

Step 5: Dealing with Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are the absolute worst for a perfect paint job. If you encounter them, here’s what to do:

Safety First: Mold and mildew can irritate your lungs, so wear gloves, a respirator, and safety goggles when dealing with them.

Don’t Paint Over It!: This is a big no-no. Mold and mildew will just keep growing under the paint and can cause health problems.

Commercial Mold Remover: Grab a commercial mold and mildew remover from your local hardware store. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and effective removal.

Step 6: Drying the Walls Completely

Person on ladder cleaning high walls with a long brushThis is a crucial step that many people forget. Paint won’t stick properly to a damp surface. Allow the walls to dry completely for at least 24 hours before you start painting. You can speed up the drying process by opening windows and doors to get some good air circulation going.

Step 7: Addressing Wall Defects (If There Are Any)

If you notice any cracks, holes, or uneven surfaces on your walls, it’s best to address them before painting.

Small cracks: Use a patching compound to fill in small cracks. Let it dry completely, sand smooth, and then wipe away any dust.

Larger holes: For larger holes, use a joint compound or patching plaster. Apply multiple thin coats, allowing each layer to dry completely before sanding.

Final Words

So, knowing what to clean walls with before painting is key to getting that magazine-worthy finish. You don’t want all that hard work to be ruined because of some leftover grime, right?

However, if you’re short on time or just want the whole process to be a breeze, Muffetta House Cleaning can be a lifesaver. We proudly serve Yonkers, White Plains, Tuckahoe, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson and all of Westchester County NY with our exceptional house cleaning service. Our cleaning pros know exactly what to do to get your walls squeaky clean and ready for that new coat of paint. You can focus on picking out the perfect color, and we’ll take care of the dirty work. Win-win!

Muffetta’s Housekeeping, House Cleaning and Household Staffing Agency

Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with your questions or comments.

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Muffetta's Housekeeping, House Cleaning and Household Staffing Agency, Yonkers, NY


Yonkers, NY 10701



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