Will Washing Your Painted Walls Ruin Them?

Same with smokers, pets and wide-open windows during a dust storm. It’s just a simple fact of life. Walls get dirty. Dirt needs washing. If you’re like most of us, your walls are painted. So, will washing your painted walls ruin them? The straight answer is, it might. It depends on what kind of paint is on your walls, what you use to clean them, and just how dirty they are. Ready to break it down? Read on for some tips about washing your painted walls.

What Kind of Paint Is on Your Walls?

Before you tackle washing your walls, start by looking at what kind of paint is on them. Before you start to clean, you need to look at the sheen of the paint. Sheen refers to how shiny or flat the paint is. As a rule of thumb, the shinier the paint, the easier it is to clean. The flatter or more matte the paint, the trickier clean-up becomes.

The wall paint in your bathroom and your kitchen is most likely satin or an eggshell finish. These finishes are right in the middle of the spectrum of glossiness. They are usually used in high-traffic areas and for a very good reason. The gloss in the finish hardens and gets shiny. This finish is like closing the pores of your walls. It keeps the paint from absorbing all the dust, grease and grime that are part of everyday life.

The paint used on your baseboards and trim is most likely a high-gloss or a semi-gloss paint. The higher gloss draws the eye to the trim. It is also the easiest to clean.

Walls in the bedrooms and possibly the living room could be painted with matte or flat paint. There’s no doubt about it, flat paints are the toughest to clean.

What Kind of Cleaner Should I Use?

It’s common to reach for the bottle of pine-scented heavy-duty cleaner when you decide to tackle a big job like washing painted walls. Don’t do it! No matter what kind of paint you have, washing it is a gentle task, not a hard scrubbing one. Instead, use a soft sponge and a bucket of clean water, some mild dish soap or white vinegar and possibly some baking soda for the tough spots. Don’t use a scrubby or steel wool or any kind of textured scrubber.

When you are cleaning a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint, add a few drops of dish soap to the water. The doors, baseboards, windowsills and other trim should all wash up easily and look great with very little effort.

For walls with eggshell or satin finish, you can add a few drops of dish soap to your water or use two-to-three tablespoons of white vinegar instead. You don’t need to use hot water, warm will do just as well. The trick to saving your paint is to wring out your sponge really well. Wring it out until it is practically dry. You’ll have much better luck getting the wall clean and leaving the paint behind. Even though these finishes are durable, they can still scratch. Using a sponge will protect them best.

So far, so good, right? Now we will talk about the toughest walls to clean: Those that have flat or matte finish paints.

Flat and Matte Don’t Mix Well with Water

The truth is, this finish is difficult to clean. Your best bet is to tackle these walls with a three-pronged approach. Start with your vacuum cleaner and a brush attachment. Run the vacuum over the walls to remove dust and loose dirt.

Next, dip your sponge into your water with just a little bit of gentle soap. Do NOT use any harsh chemicals or anything abrasive. Your paint can’t take it. Gently rub the wall with the sponge. Now take a dry, lint-free cloth and dab it dry. Don’t rub or you’ll rub the paint off. If the wall is still dirty, you can try to gently clean it the same way a second time. Remember, though, the second cleaning will be even harder on the surface than the first time, so gentle, gentle, gentle.

If the wall still won’t come clean, you will probably have to repaint it.

What About Crayons?

Crayons are a grease stain and they are nearly impossible to completely remove. If you have a glossy surface, you can try a paste of baking soda and water with your sponge, but only on shiny walls. Otherwise, yep, you’re looking at a paint job with a primer underneath to prevent the crayon color from leaking through.

The best way to keep your painted walls clean is to carefully choose the type of paint you use from the beginning. At The Painting Company, we know everything you need to know about paint and how to clean those painted walls. Contact us today to find out how to clean up on your next paint job.

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