The Best Way to Clean Walls Before Painting

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves

  • Protective eyewear

  • Clothing that covers arms and legs

  • Plastic sheeting

  • Duct tape

  • 2 large buckets

  • Water

  • ½ cup trisodium phosphate

  • 2 flat mops

  • Toothbrush

  • Sponge

  • Towels

Paint will not adhere properly to dirty walls.

If you are repainting walls in your home, it is important to clean the walls prior to applying paint. The walls must be thoroughly cleaned so that the new coat of paint will properly adhere. Cleaning walls is often a messy job, but it is one that is absolutely necessary before painting. The best way to clean walls prior to painting is using trisodium phosphate. This product will cut grease and clean grime off of the walls.


Step 1

Put on protective eyewear, rubber gloves, and clothing that covers your arms and legs.

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Step 2

Lay down plastic sheeting in the room in which you are working. This will keep your floors from getting wet during cleaning. Remove any pictures or other decorations hanging on the walls. Cover electrical outlets with duct tape to keep them from getting wet.

Step 3

Fill a large bucket with two gallons warm water. Add ½ cup trisodium phosphate to the water. Allow the trisodium phosphate to completely dissolve into the water. Fill another bucket with plain water for rinsing.

Step 4

Dip a flat mop into the bucket of cleaning solution. A variety of types of flat mops is available at most large retail stores. Make sure that the mop is made of a non-abrasive material.


Step 5

Stand about two feet away from the wall. Wash the wall from the top down, working in sections about three feet wide. Rinse the mop often while cleaning. Use a toothbrush and the cleaning solution to clean corners and along the baseboards. If you find it is difficult to clean the lower portions of the wall with the mop, use a sponge instead.


Step 6

Rinse each three foot section promptly with a fresh mop or sponge. Place a clean, dry cloth over the well-wrung out flat mop head to dry each three foot section as soon as you rinse. Use a dry towel to dry lower portions of the wall if you prefer not to use the mop on these sections.

Step 7

Allow the walls to air dry completely before applying paint.


Trisodium phosphate is also available in a no-rinse form. If you use this type, skip the step of rinsing the walls with plain water. Follow the directions on the label for specific mixing instructions.


Wear rubber gloves, protective eyewear and clothing that covers your arms and legs when working with trisodium phosphate. Work in a well-ventilated area. If contact with the skin occurs, wash promptly with soap and water. If eye contact occurs, flush the eyes with plenty of water. Seek medical help right away.


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