How to Clean Ceilings


Ceilings get as dirty as the rest of the house, which means they also require regular cleaning. Depending on the type of ceiling and how dirty the surface is, here are some different ways to tackle the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Cobweb brush
  • Long-handled duster
  • Long-handled wet sweeper
  • Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
  • Stepladder
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Drop cloth
  • Gloves and protective eyewear
  • Rags or towels
  • Remove cobwebs with a round-headed cobweb brush. Reach into far corners and run through the edges. Some cobwebs are not easily visible.

  • Dust the ceiling surface. Long-handled dusters are available in many brands at the supermarket or home improvement stores. Choose the ones that will extend long enough to reach your highest ceilings. Get the "magnetic" type of duster to optimize dust pickup and retention.

  • Vacuum dirt-prone areas around vents and light fixtures. Use a vacuum cleaner with a long extension fitted with a soft brush tip to avoid spreading the dust around.

  • For painted ceilings that are dirty or oily, especially in the kitchen, use a wet sweeper that has been pre-treated to clean out dust and grime. As a substitute, use a sponge mop dipped in a mild solution of all-purpose cleaner and water. Wring the mop to minimize dripping. Dry the wet ceiling with rags or towels to minimize water spots.

  • For washable wallpapered ceilings, use a sponge mop dipped in a mild solution of dishwashing detergent and water. Wring the mop to minimize dripping, and immediately wipe ceiling dry with a rag or towel.

  • For "popcorn" and other spray-on textured ceilings, refrain from any wet or wipe-down cleaning, which would knock down the texture effect. Use a vacuum cleaner with a long extension fitted with a soft brush tip. Commercial textured ceiling cleaners are available.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult the manufacturer for the best way to clean and maintain customized ceiling tiles like vinyl, metal or acoustic board.
  • When cleaning dirty ceilings with a wet sponge mop, avoid disasters by covering furniture and floors with a drop cloth. Protect yourself with gloves and goggles.
  • Use a stepladder as needed, but be sure it is well grounded and won't slip or tip as you stretch out to reach high ceiling areas.
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