How to Clean Walls With Paint or Wallpaper Like a Pro

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If the walls in your home are looking dirty, faded, or damaged, it may be time to give them some TLC. Cleaning and preparing your walls properly before applying a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper can help them look their best and last longer. This article by Land of Wallpaper will teach you pro tips on how to clean walls with paint or wallpaper like a pro to revitalize any room. We’ll also discuss how to choose the best new paint or wallpaper for your home.

Step by Step Guide to Clean Walls with Paint or Wallpaper

Inspecting and Preparing Your Walls

The first step is carefully inspecting your walls and identifying any problem areas or stains you want to remove. Check for cracks, holes, scratches, scuffs, grease splatters, crayon or pen marks, etc. Tunneling your vision to scan every inch of each wall. This allows you to devise a game plan for repairs and choose the best cleaning method for each type of damage.

You’ll also want to remove fixtures and outlet covers, prep floors and trim with drop cloths, detach any wall-mounted objects, and clear the room of furniture to access all wall surfaces. Turn off electricity before light switches, electrical sockets, or other fixtures are removed. Better safe than sorry!

Cleaning Painted Walls

When tackling dirty painted walls, you’ll want an arsenal of cleaning solutions and scouring tools. Here are some top products and techniques:

  • Warm water: Use a sponge or soft scrub brush dipped in warm water for general dirt and grime. Avoid abrasive brushes.
  • Dish soap: For greasier stains, apply a small amount of diluted dish detergent with a gentle scrub brush.
  • Baking soda: This can help lift stains without harsh chemicals. Make a thick baking soda paste with just enough water to form a spreadable consistency.
  • White vinegar: Vinegar helps remove hard water deposits and alkalizes surfaces. Spray or wipe diluted vinegar.
  • TSP (trisodium phosphate): For tough nicotine, smoke, soot, pencil, crayon, or other stains try a TSP solution wearing gloves.

Avoid toxic chemicals like bleach, ammonia, or acetone. Test solutions first and start light, gradually increasing strength if needed.

When scouring walls, use minimal pressure and wipe in various directions to get marks moving. Small circular motions often work best. Rinse thoroughly multiple times with fresh water to eliminate cleaning solution residues.

Launder or replace sponges and rags that get too dirty. Let walls dry completely before priming or painting. Address any remaining cracks, holes, or other repairs needed.

Cleaning Wallpapered Walls

Wallpaper can easily attract dust, stains and grime over time. Luckily, you can refresh wallpaper between replacements by thoroughly cleaning it. Start by using your vacuum cleaner’s wallpaper brush attachment to lift out deeply embedded dust and dirt. Then, use a low-heat handheld steamer to gently infuse warmth and moisture, which helps mobilize stuck-on debris and stains.

Mix a highly diluted solution of mild dish soap, white vinegar, or tri-sodium phosphate substitute and barely dampen a sponge to gently blot the wallpaper clean working from bottom to top. Do not abrasively scrub the delicate wallpaper which could scratch or peel it.

For grease stains, sprinkle cornstarch on the mark and allow it to sit for a day to absorb the oil before vacuuming up the powder. If stains persist or wallpaper is highly damaged, replacement is likely your best option. Properly preparing walls helps new wallpaper smoothly adhere.

Choosing New Wall Paint Finish

When picking new paint for your walls, consider the different finish options. Flat paint is ideal for hiding imperfections on ceilings and low-traffic walls, but scuffs easily. Eggshell finishes remain slightly glossy, resist staining, touch up well and also hide flaws effectively. Satin finishes have a smooth, pearly sheen that makes them very durable and scrubbable – great for hallways, kitchens, bathrooms and kids’ rooms.

Semi-gloss paint is extremely wipeable and stain-resistant with a bright shine, perfect for trim, cabinets and bathrooms. Finally, super shiny and durable gloss paint works best on accent walls and trim, but requires thoroughly eliminating any surface imperfections first.

Read More: How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Key Wallpaper Material Considerations

Wallpaper composition affects its looks, durability, and installer friendliness. Here are the primary types:

  • Vinyl: Most durable and moisture-resistant. Easy to clean and install. Often mimics other materials like fabric or wood.
  • Paper: Breathable and absorbs moisture but risks water damage. Usually thicker and textured for dimensional designs. The most classic choice.
  • Non-woven: Fibers pressed to mimic paper but do not expand or contract with moisture. Makes removal easier.
  • Foil: Real metallic foil or imitation metal prints. Bold contemporary looks.
  • Natural: Made from renewable sources like grass fibers, cork, or bamboo. Eco-friendly and sustainable. Needs gentle care.

Knowing wallpaper materials helps pick the right option for your skill level, room conditions, and design taste.


I hope you feel equipped to give your home’s walls a fresh makeover with expert cleaning methods, paint-picking pointers, and savvy wallpaper-shopping advice. Reviving your wall surfaces properly before applying paint or wallpaper ensures beautiful, long-lasting results.

After knowing how to clean walls with paint or wallpaper like a pro, test cleaning solutions first, blot wallpaper instead of scrubbing, vacuum dust before steam cleaning, and pick sheens and patterns suited to the room’s purpose. Your walls impact the whole aesthetic of a space, so take time to choose both finishes and hues you’ll enjoy for years.