Before You Clean Your Walls

Find out which surfaces are safe to scrub with water.

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Photo by Wendell T. Webber
Before setting sponge to surface, consider what your wall is covered with. Avoid washing flat emulsion paint, which can be damaged by water. (Jeff Bishop, a technical adviser to the Institute for Inspecting, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification and the president of Clean Care Seminars, suggests a dry-cleaning sponge as an alternative.) But for gloss paint and most wallpapers (except vintage or antique ones; check with the manufacturer if you’re concerned), a DIY cleaning is good to go. It’s always best to test in an inconspicuous spot first.