How to Clean Painted Walls & Trim

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Like everything else inside a house, painted walls and trim get dirty and need a thorough cleaning. The major culprits that dirty up painted walls and trim are children, although dust and dirt affects walls in every house, too. There are different types of paint used on walls and trim. High gloss paint appears shiny, reflecting light off its surface. This type of paint is the easiest to clean and is made with durability in mind. Matte paint has a non-reflective, dull appearance. This paint is harder to clean, but not impossible.

Things You'll Need

  • Washcloth or sponge
  • Cleaner of choice
  • Choose a method. The most common homemade method used to clean walls is dish soap and water. Other methods include bleach and water, detergent and water and combinations of all of these. Specialty products to clean walls, such as the Magic Eraser, are effective in most cases.

  • Test for problems. Before going to work, make sure the method chosen doesn't damage the paint on the walls and trim. Find an inconspicuous spot behind a piece of furniture or in a corner and test out the cleaner. Rub fairly hard to make sure that the paint isn't going to come off with it. Wait until it fully dries to verify that the paint is unchanged. If it worked and the paint is still perfect, continue with the cleaning. However, if the paint faded or changed, pick a new method to test.

  • Remove surface dirt and debris. Before beginning to use cleaner, get the loose dirt off the walls and the trim. Use clean, warm water on a cloth or sponge and rub extremely gently. It's not necessary to scrub at this point in the cleaning process.

  • Get the tougher dirt by scrubbing the walls and trim. Focus on the stains and problem spots, scrubbing to remove them. Go over the rest of the wall to remove dust and dirt.

  • Recheck the walls and trim. Wait 24 hours for the wet spots to dry. Water alters the appearance of the paint on the walls and trim, so it's difficult to tell if the stains are gone until it's completely dry. Make sure that the stains are gone as it is common for stains to require more than one pass to completely remove them.

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