Cleaning walls can be such a tedious task, I knew that there just had to be an easier way out there to do it than to use a rag/sponge and a bucket. Luckily, when I was trying to figure out how to wash dried-on soda off of a textured ceiling ( don’t ask ) this method was born, and I will never do it any other way. Now you can learn how to wash walls fast too.
I don’t know why we always seem to do things the hard way. I guess it’s human nature to do things the way you were taught? Though when it comes to cleaning, if the hard way is the only way you know how, it’s not going to happen as often as it should.
Which just won’t do when you have little ones about that depend on you to grow up in a healthy environment(let’s face it, there are days that I would really rather not do any cleaning, but I do the best that I can anyway because I love my kids). Which is why I am always on the lookout for a better way to do things.
Before we dive into the easiest way to wash walls, I wanted to share with you the traditional way to wash walls, then will teach you how I have simplified the process, how to clean walls with vinegar, how to disinfect walls, as well as any other tips I can think of…we may as well call this a guide on how to wash walls.
How To Clean Walls, The Traditional/Old Fashioned Way Like Grandma Did It.
Back in the day, sometimes all that was used to clean walls with was a rag and water… I’m not even joking. Have you seen Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs?
She cleans up their cottage that way…and of course there is some animal licking going on, but we won’t get into that…lol. I know that was like the dorkiest example that I could give you guys, but you get the gist.
I discovered this was old-school cleaning common-place once when I was helping my grandmother clean out her linen closet.
She had me pull everything out of the closet, dust it out, and then only wipe down the parts that were actually visibly dirty with a wet rag and a bucket of water…
I was FLOORED when I realized that that is all it took (mind you that my grandma kept an immaculately clean home) because I was fully ready to get out some disinfecting wipes, or some spray of some sort, and wipe down every single surface in that closet from top to bottom before I organized everything and put it back.
It actually made me really step back and think about how obsessively I had been cleaning and that day I learned that I needed to chill out a bit, because if the hardest working woman I had ever met didn’t feel like it was necessary to keep going past cleaning with water, then I didn’t need to either.
Yes, a wet rag is the most basic way to wash walls or surfaces throughout the home, and I only recommend doing it in low-traffic areas because otherwise you really should use some sort of cleaning agent to wash away body oils and smudges that make our homes actually dirty.
The Easiest/Most Painless Way To Wash Walls.
If you know anything about me, you know that I try to make things as simple as possible, but I still want the same results as if I did it the hard way.
This is why I want to share my super time saving tip for washing walls. It just so happens that I figured out this method of washing walls when I had such a large task ahead of me that I was so overwhelmed at the thought of it, that my choices were either have a good cry and do it anyway(taking maybe a couple of hours), give up and let someone else worry about it, or to figure out a solution. Lucky for us all, I decided to figure it out.
Washing the walls this way literally cuts the time and effort down to a fraction of what it used to take…especially if you have a home with vaulted ceilings like I do. No need to get out a ladder and risk your safety!
Sidenote: You may want to check out my entire Cleaning section.
All you need is a sturdy large pad mop (this is the one that I use and LOVE) and your choice of multipurpose cleaner.
Work top to bottom, left to right, and gently spray (more mist than stream) the wall down with your wall cleaner of choice.
Apply some pressure and literally mop the wall.
Which wall cleaner works best?
I use Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds to clean my walls with, and if you want to read my post about how it is my favorite multipurpose cleaner ever, and all the awesome ways to use it, you can see that here. I put it in a spray bottle with water and just a drop or two of the Sal Suds and wash my walls that way.
If Sal Suds isn’t an option, you can just use a little bit of dish soap in warm water, and fill a squirt spray bottle that way.
It seems to work best using a side to side motion then work your way down, I was always taught not to work against gravity when you’re cleaning or you give yourself more work in the long run with drips and having to go back over places and such.
It really is just that easy!
I usually grab a rag to help me with the bottom of the wall where the molding/trim is, but doing it this way (using the mop) saves SO MUCH TIME!
I’ve even done this successfully to get soda off of a ceiling that didn’t have a super-thick texture (you know, that task that I mentioned earlier that made me want to cry).
Anyway, this method has literally saved me several hours of cleaning each time that I do my annual, top to bottom, spring cleaning.
I’ve only tried it with the kind of mop that I have, I found this mop at my parents house and was so impressed with it that when I got home I promptly bought myself THE EXACT SAME MOP and a SECOND WASHABLE PAD because I love it so much (it’s super sturdy and this is coming from someone that has snapped her fair share of mop handles over the years…whoops).
*Please note that if your walls are really dusty you are going to want to take care of that first, so you are going to need to dust the walls. Otherwise it’ll just make them look muddy after the first pass. If dusty is the case, I find it helpful to take my mop, with a fresh pad cover on, and just use the same mopping motions as I use when it is wet. This should remove most, if not all, of the dust. You can always just keep swapping out the pad and repeating until it’s as dustless as you want it to be. Then just go ahead and wash your little heart out the way that I suggested(with a fresh mop pad on there of course)!
** I mop my tile this exact same way except I use a 70/30 water /vinegar solution to spray it down. It also cuts the time I spend mopping down to a few minutes, even in my large kitchen and dining room. How does it save so much time you may ask? The pad on the mop is huge so it covers a large surface area at once.
*** Certain cleaning solutions can leave your walls sticky if you wash them this way. You can always follow up with a water “rinse” spritz with your spray bottle and a fresh mop pad to avoid this.
How To Clean Walls With Vinegar
I love to clean with Natural cleaning solutions as often as possible, so I must tell you that I use White Distilled Vinegar to clean with on a daily basis.
Before I break down how to wash walls with vinegar, I wanted to tell you that I actually do not recommend cleaning all types of painted walls with vinegar…that is because Vinegar is acidic.
The problem with Vinegar being acidic is that certain finishes of paint on walls will get a bit of a haze and look like they need to be repainted if you’re not careful about what you are using to wash them with.
If your walls have a matte finish, or even eggshell, I highly suggest that you wash a test area first, in a non-conspicuous area, so that if it does react funny with your paint then you are not kicking yourself, or cursing me, for suggesting that you use Vinegar to clean them with. I seem to find that the higher the gloss in the paint, the less washing with Vinegar has been a problem, at least in my experience with washing various types of painted walls.
There are two different ways that I recommend washing walls with Vinegar. I did mention earlier in this post that I sometimes like to do a 70/30 mixture of water/vinegar, and most of the time (when we are all happy and healthy) that is absolutely sufficient, but if there is ever a time when there is sickness in your home, it needs to be a stronger solution to actually kill germs…more like 50/50.
Anyway, whichever water to Vinegar ratio that you decide is going to be best for the task at hand, you can either put it in a bucket and wash the walls with a rag and a sponge (you will need gloves for this part because of the acidity in the vinegar). Or, you can add it to a fresh spray bottle (I always say fresh so that you’re not accidentally mixing chemicals) and spray it directly onto the wall and mop it off, the easy way.
*Don’t forget that when you’re washing with a bucket of soapy water to make sure to empty the bucket and use clean/fresh water any time it gets murky. That is because you can’t clean something that is dirty with a dirty water and rag…you just spread the filth around.*
Both ways are good options and you will be hard-pressed to find another cleaning “expert” that will tell you otherwise.
How To Disinfect Walls
Most of the time when I’m cleaning, I find that I don’t actually need to disinfect my walls. I really only worry about doing it when I have had a child with a cold or some other type of sickness.
If cleaning with Vinegar (as mentioned just above this section)is not your cup of tea there are a few other cleaning solutions that would be a good option.
You can find all of those cleaning solutions within my Ultimate Guide On What To Clean (& How)During Times Of Sickness. Any of those options would be a good way to disinfect your walls. Then of course just pick if you want to do the spray bottle option and mop, or if you would like to do the good ‘ol bucket and rag/sponge.
It’s up to you, of course, but I would also recommend being careful with your paint if you decide to go the bleach route, if it is your only option, make sure to rinse it really well and dry it so that it will damage your paint as little as possible.
How to clean walls with different paint finishes:
I actually think that it is easiest to clean walls with an oil based paint. The shiny smooth sheen seems to not hold onto dirt and grime the way that an eggshell finish in latex paint does. For spot cleaning just use the above mentioned method the way that grandma does it.
For stubborn stains (such as scuff marks that just need a spot cleaning), of course you can get out a Magic Eraser. In which case just dip it in a bucket of clean water and use gentle circular motions. The shinier the paint the more careful you will need to be so you don’t rub off the sheen while you are at it.
I find that Magic Erasers leave a bit of a white film on walls (when used for stain removal), so make sure to use a clean sponge or a microfiber cloth, dip it in some clean water, wring it out, and wipe it down after you use the Magic Eraser.
How To Keep/Maintain Clean Walls As Long As Possible
Some of you are not going to like what I have to say about this, but really the best way to keep your walls clean is to avoid some bad habits…no smoking indoors, no burning candles indoors (the soot gets all over your walls and makes them turn a black color it’s good to just use candle warmers as an alternative)…and maybe train your kids not to drag their hands along the walls when they walk by…I know, that one is much easier said than done, but it makes a huge difference.
Also, it is a good idea to just spot clean your walls in between the big jobs when you tackle the whole wall…and that’s about all that you can do, on a practical note, to keep your walls looking as clean as possible for as long as possible. Most households really only need to regularly clean their walls once every couple of months though, so it shouldn’t be too overwhelming.
Well, that’s all I have to share with you all today about washing walls…yeah, it was a bit long-winded, but that is why I provided you with the index so that you could skip around if you wanted to.
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Please keep in mind that my advise is just that, advice from a mommy blogger (although experienced in the school of hard knocks, I am no scholar…like I have literally never stepped foot in a college class to learn anything), though my cleaning tips have been viewed millions of times and shared by some of the largest websites out there. But, please make sure to do your own research exactly what the best method of cleaning is that is right for your particular needs and family...because in the end, you are the only one that can make the best judgement call.
Make sure to check out several of my other cleaning tips:
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*Reposts: Please note that this idea/post was originally posted to this website on 08/03/2013 but it was in great need of a refresh so it now is more user friendly/shareable.