5 Traditional Recommendations for Cleaning Walls

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Home Improvement

To achieve immaculate walls, a little bit of effort and some of our simple tips are all you need.
©iStockphoto.com/Svitlana Pavzyuk

Removing wine stains from the counter and eliminating odors from the rug may seem effortless, but grime and dirt on the walls is a different story. Even if you have a beautifully set table and crystal clear windows, a stain on the wallpaper or woodwork can make the room feel far from perfect.

Do not worry. Eliminating spots from the wall just requires some elbow grease – a different kind of grease than you are used to! Your grandmother knew the secrets, but if she did not tell you, do not stress because we are willing to share how to get rid of dirt. Our five traditional recommendations offer more than just soap and water, and they will remove those stains right off the wall! Firstly, let us discuss how generations have been eliminating smears off walls using a piece of bread.

5: Smears and Soil

No one knows how those marks got on the wall (although dirty pets and hyper children do look pretty guilty), but we know how to get rid of them. Forget finding the culprit and focus on this easy trick to get rid of the marks:

To clean wallpaper with smears and soil stains, gently brush off all loose dirt and dust. Then grab a soft slice or piece of white or rye bread from your bread bin. You cannot use the hardened bread from dinner two nights ago, but you can use the heel of the loaf that no one ever wants anyway – all you need is its soft center. Wad up the center of the slice and use it as a natural eraser to gently rub off smears and stuck-on soil.

4: Grease-Spotted Wallpaper

Unpleasant grease spots speckling your kitchen wallpaper? It happens to the best of us who have a stove-top backed up against the wall or kids who do not wipe their hands after eating fried chicken.

Eliminate the spots by placing a few sheets of blotting paper against them and holding a hot iron – the tool Grandma insisted you use on every piece of clothing but you try to avoid breaking out whenever possible – close to the wall. Wear an oven mitt on your hand to protect your fingers as you hold the blotting paper in place against the wall. The special paper will slowly absorb the grease spots from the wallpaper. Just be sure not to press the iron directly against the wallpaper.


3: Painted Walls

Do not waste money and risk accidentally buying a cleaner that will dull the color of paint on your wall. Use this cheap, traditional recipe that people have been using to tackle pesky stains on painted walls for years:

Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of clear ammonia, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 gallon of warm water. Apply to the wall with a sponge and rinse with plain water. Because this cleaner contains ammonia, you should wear rubber or vinyl gloves when applying it and make sure the room you are working in is well ventilated. Your walls will be spotless without the risk of becoming dull.


2: Getting Rid of Scuff Marks

When you paint your walls with your favorite color, you want to keep them looking nice. But whether it’s a ladder or a set of chairs, something is bound to leave scuff marks on your walls. These marks can stand out, especially if they’re black against a light-colored wall. Luckily, you don’t have to touch up the paint to get rid of them.

All you need to do is use old-fashioned toothpaste (not the gel kind) and a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the scuff marks off the painted walls. The marks will come off easily, and your walls will look as good as new.

1: Cleaning Wooden Accents

If your room has wooden accents, you know how they can get dirty or stained. But if your woodwork has an oil finish, you can’t use your usual cleaning methods. Fortunately, there’s a solution.

You can clean and polish your woodwork by mixing equal parts of turpentine and boiled linseed oil. After shaking the mixture thoroughly, apply it to a soft cloth and rub it into the woodwork along the direction of the grain. The surface may look oily at first, but within an hour the polish will be absorbed, leaving a soft shine.

These tips are adapted from “101 Old-Time Country Household Hints,” © 2008 Publications International, Ltd.


1. How do I prepare my walls for cleaning?

Before you start cleaning your walls, it’s important to prepare them properly. First, remove any decorations or fixtures on the walls, such as picture frames or shelves. Then, dust the walls with a soft-bristled brush or a microfiber cloth. This will help remove any loose dirt or cobwebs that may have accumulated on the walls. Finally, cover any nearby furniture or floors with drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect them from any cleaning solutions or water that may drip down.

2. What’s the best way to clean walls?

The best way to clean walls depends on the type of wall surface you have. For painted walls, use a soft sponge or cloth and a mild cleaning solution, such as water and vinegar or dish soap. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrub brushes, as they can damage the paint. For wallpapered walls, use a dry cleaning sponge to gently remove any dirt or stains. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure the sponge doesn’t damage the wallpaper.

3. How do I remove stubborn stains from walls?

If you have stubborn stains on your walls, such as crayon marks or grease smudges, try using a magic eraser sponge. These sponges are specially designed to remove tough stains without damaging the paint or wallpaper. Simply wet the sponge and gently rub the stain until it disappears. If the stain is particularly stubborn, you may need to use a stronger cleaning solution, such as rubbing alcohol or baking soda paste.

4. Should I clean my walls from top to bottom or bottom to top?

When cleaning walls, it’s best to start at the top and work your way down. This will help prevent any dirt or cleaning solution from dripping down onto areas you’ve already cleaned. Use a ladder or step stool to reach high areas, and be sure to move it frequently to avoid leaning or overreaching.

5. How often should I clean my walls?

How often you should clean your walls depends on a variety of factors, such as the amount of traffic in the room and whether you have pets or children. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to clean your walls once or twice a year to keep them looking fresh and bright. However, if you notice any noticeable stains or discoloration, it’s best to clean them as soon as possible to prevent them from setting in.

6. Can I use a pressure washer to clean my walls?

While pressure washers can be effective for cleaning outdoor walls, they should never be used on indoor walls. The high pressure can damage the paint or wallpaper and even cause water damage to the walls and floors. Stick to gentle cleaning solutions and tools, such as a soft sponge or cloth, to keep your indoor walls looking their best.

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