What Is the Best Way to Clean Walls Before Painting?

Painting the wall

When it is time to give your room or home an updated look, some fresh paint can help you achieve that outcome without breaking the budget.

Even if you purchase high-quality interior paint, most rooms can be completed for under $100.

If you want to maximize the benefits of this investment, you’ll want to take the time to clean your walls before painting them. Although it might seem like a waste of time and effort, the surface will accept the new paint more readily.

You’ll also stop any cobwebs or junk from becoming part of the new look.

What Instructions Do Paint Manufacturers Offer?

When you purchase new paint from the store, you’ll find that today’s biggest manufacturers have different recommendations for cleaning interior walls.

Here is an overview of what you can expect to find with each brand, and please keep in mind that the instructions are subject to change.

Benjamin Moore:Walls can get washed using a sponge with warm water. If you have surfaces with oil or grim exposure, consider using a solution of water with a grease-cutting detergent. Follow up with clean water to remove any residual agents. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Behr:Apply a mild detergent with a sponge to remove grease, oil, or wax stains from the wall. Tough spots can be removed by applying the cleaning agent to a water-dampened surface. Then rinse with clean water and let the wall dry.
Sherwin-Williams:Wash your walls and trim to remove grime, dust, stains, and cobwebs that could prevent paint from adhering. Use a gentle rubbing motion using circular techniques with mild soap and lukewarm water to clean the surface before rinsing with a damp sponge.
Valspar:An ordinary sponge can clean your ceiling and walls using TSP and water. Rinse and let dry. Move from the top to the bottom to clean your moldings and walls.
PPG Paint:Wipe your walls clean of dust and dirt.

Many DIY’ers skip the cleaning step because it feels like the new paint will cover the old problems. Even professionals are tempted to rush right into their work.

Since washing a wall cuts into the profit margin, you won’t see painters taking this step. That’s why doing the work yourself or hiring a cleaner to do it for you ensures that your walls look fantastic.

If you don’t have the time or budget to clean, your hired painter might use fine-grit sandpaper to prepare your walls.

Are There Times When I Can Skip Washing the Walls?

When you are painting the walls at home and want to skip washing them, a few places might be suitable to accept the new paint immediately.

There shouldn’t be any excessive debris in the environment. Only vertical services qualify for this option because horizontal ones collect surface dust.

If your walls have grease or crayon stains, they require cleaning to ensure the paint adheres to the surface.

Any room where you would cook or bathe requires extensive wall cleaning work to ensure the area is ready for the new paint. The space should also be allowed to dry before getting to work.

If the walls have little or no contact with hands, there are no pets in the house, and you don’t have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, it’s possible to start painting without needing to wash first.

For everyone else, the time and effort to clean the old paint will make the new stuff look even better when it gets applied.

How to Clean the Walls to Prepare Them for New Paint

If you have walls with visible dirt or dust, they need a good cleaning before they are ready for some new paint. Here are the steps to follow to prepare those surfaces.

  1. Remove the big stuff first by knocking down the cobwebs, dust bunnies, and other materials collected along the wall.
  2. Clean the baseboards and trim, running a damp cloth across the tops of all window and door trim. These spots often have excessive dust.
  3. Use your vacuum with a bristle attachment to clean areas along the floor and walls.
  4. Wipe all the surfaces you intend to paint with a damp sponge. If there are stubborn areas, use a mild detergent.
  5. Rinse the walls and surfaces right after washing them with clear water and a damp sponge.

Some detergents might stain your flooring or clothing. You’ll want to take precautions before starting this work, including laying a drop cloth on the floor of your working area, to prevent unintended damage.


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