Dirty painted walls pose a housecleaning challenge. Not all paints stand up to rigorous cleaning, and if people are too hard on paints with certain types of finishes, they may end scrubbing off paint. On the other hand, not cleaning regularly can mean walls stay dirty or look dingy even after they’ve been cleaned.
The first tip on cleaning painted walls is to clean often. Don’t let fingerprints, smudges, or marks amass for long periods of time. Too much accumulating dirt may eventually be impossible to take off, and people may end up having to repaint instead of clean.
Second, look to the paint finish on the wall. If the paint is an oil-based enamel, as might be present in bathrooms and kitchens, use a soft sponge and a mild detergent cleaner. Follow the same guidelines for latex enamels, but be sure to only keep walls wet for about a minute at most. The order of easiest to clean finishes is glosses, semi-glosses and satins.
Most people will be fairly successful removing dirt from enamel paints, but flat paints create significant problems. It can be very easy to destroy the paint with even light cleaning. Observe the one-minute rule and don’t scrub hard. Use soft sponges, or old nylons, and a mild cleaning solution. Avoid harsh chemicals and stick to things like simple dish detergent.
Depending on the type of paint, it can be difficult to get painted walls fully clean, and some marks like crayon or black marks don’t come off easily. One thing many people have found useful is products like the Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser. This does tend to do an excellent job taking off marks, and it may also be more successful in cleaning painted walls with flat finish paints. It tends not to remove paint and only requires light scrubbing. Furthermore, it keeps walls from getting too wet while cleaning them.
If painted walls have not been cleaned in a long time, it may be very hard to get them fully clean. A few alternatives at this point are trying with more abrasive scrubbers. If the wall already looks bad and needs a paint job, there isn’t much to “ruin” in its appearance. Avoid this method if the paint is very old and might contain lead.
Alternately, a quick whitewash or repaint can help refresh the wall and make everything look clean and fresh. When there is a lot of traffic through your home, such as many little hands creating fingerprints, choose to repaint with easier to clean paints. Also vow to perform wall cleanings once every few months so that painted walls remain clean.