The Best Way to Clean a Popcorn Ceiling

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While somewhat challenging, popcorn ceilings can be cleaned without hiring a professional.
While somewhat challenging, popcorn ceilings can be cleaned without hiring a professional. (Image: Course White Background image by Gary Chorpenning from Fotolia.com)

A popcorn ceiling is a spray-on, paint-based ceiling treatment. Sound insulating, popcorn ceilings were popular in new home construction, home renovations, and commercial construction. While cleaning a popcorn ceiling can require time and effort, it is relatively inexpensive and can be done without hiring a contractor.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with hose and soft brush attachment
  • Ladder
  • Soft cloth
  • Warm water
  • Mild detergent
  • Premixed popcorn ceiling texture (optional)

Using your vacuum cleaner's wand and soft brush attachment, thoroughly clean the popcorn ceiling. Make sure you vacuum the entire ceiling to remove dust and debris that has accumulated. Do not use any hard attachments with your wand, because they may damage the ceiling.

Combine 2 tablespoons of mild detergent with 1 gallon of warm water. Multiply this solution as needed. Submerge a clean, soft, cleaning cloth in the solution. Squeeze out any excess solution. Gently wipe the ceiling. You may wish to wipe the entire ceiling or just spot treat certain stained areas. Practice safety while wiping from a ladder. Be careful to avoid saturation of any area, because saturation may cause the popcorn ceiling texture to crack and separate from the existing ceiling. Once you have completed the wiping process, allow the ceiling to air-dry. Never use artificial heating measures such as a hair dryer on a popcorn ceiling.

In instances where water or smoke damage has occurred, cleaning with a mild detergent solution may not be effective. Severe staining or preexisting damage to the popcorn ceiling may require patching the areas with popcorn texture. Premixed popcorn ceiling texture can be purchased at your local hardware store. Using your ladder, test a small corner area of your ceiling with the texture. If it matches your existing popcorn ceiling texture, use it to patch any severe stains or separation damage.

Tips & Warnings

  • When working with a popcorn ceiling, gentle is always better. Be careful to avoid harsh detergents, vigorous scrubbing, and artificial drying measures.
  • Practice ladder safety.

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