Whether painted, wallpapered, or brick, cleaning your walls may be the easiest way to refresh a room. 

By Katie Holdefehr
January 31, 2020
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Honestly, most of us likely don't think to clean the walls of our home too often. But if you haven't cleaned painted walls in a few years, you may be surprised to see exactly how much dirt and dust has collected on them over time. In fact, after giving your walls a thorough cleaning and following the steps below, you may even notice that the paint color looks clearer and more vibrant. Similarly, your wallpaper will look refreshed and brick walls will be dust-free. Here's how to clean walls and give any room a refresh—without picking up a paintbrush or installing new wallpaper. 

RELATED: 5 Paint Colors That Can Actually Help Your Home Look Cleaner

How to Clean Painted Walls

What You'll Need:

  • Dry dust mop 
  • Microfiber cloth 
  • Soft sponge 
  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Magic Eraser (optional) 

Follow These Steps: 

  1. To remove any dust or cobwebs down along the baseboards or up near the crown molding, use a dry mop. A mop with a telescopic handle will make it easy to reach up high without pulling out a ladder, as well as down low without bending down. 
  2. Grab a microfiber cloth to dust around light switch plates or any details, like if you have a chair rail molding. 
  3. If your walls need a more thorough cleaning, first check the finish. Duller finishes, like matte or flat paint, are more delicate, while shinier finishes, like semigloss, are better at handling water or cleansers.
  4. Fill a bucket with warm water and a squirt of mild dishwashing liquid (preferably undyed). Dip the sponge, then wring out almost completely before wiping the walls. (Note: You want the sponge to be damp, not wet, or else drips can leave marks on your wall). 
  5. For small spots and scuffs: A Magic Eraser is typically up to the challenge. Just test a small, inconspicuous spot on the wall first to make sure it won't affect the paint color. 

How to Clean a Wallpapered Wall 

Before you start scrubbing, it's best to check the cleaning instructions on the manufacturer's website. For fragile, antique wallpaper, it's best to skip any cleaning methods that involve water. 

What You'll Need: 

  • Vacuum with brush attachment 
  • Dry duster (optional) 
  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Soft sponge
  • Clean towel 

Follow These Steps: 

  1. Using the brush attachment on your vacuum, carefully dust the wall, paying special attention along the molding and baseboards. Alternatively, you can use a dry duster. Always start at the top of the wall and work your way down, so dust doesn't end up falling onto an area you've already cleaned. 
  2. If dusting isn't enough, combine warm water with a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid. Dip a soft sponge, wring it out, and test in an inconspicuous spot, such as behind a piece of furniture. Does the water absorb into the paper or does the color bleed? If so, skip this method. If not, you're good to go. 
  3. Gently wipe the wallpaper with the barely-damp sponge, then follow with a clean towel to make sure moisture doesn't sit on the wallpaper. 

How to Clean Brick Walls 

What You'll Need:

  • White bread
  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Bristled brush
  • Old towels 

Follow These Steps: 

  1. To dust brick, our senior editor, Brandi Broxson, swears by this trick: Press a slice of white bread onto the brick to pick up dust, cobwebs, and debris. 
  2. Using a brush attachment, vacuum the brick to remove dust and dirt.  
  3. If dusting isn't enough, mix a bucket of warm water with a squirt of mild dishwashing liquid. Dip a bristled brush into the solution and scrub each brick. Use old towels to protect the floor below from water. 
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