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Viral Housekeeper’s Secret for How to Clean Walls Will Leave Them Sparkling

No need to break a sweat or strain your back. 

Lofty cobwebbed corners and dusty baseboards are some of the most easily forgotten cleaning spots, and ironically, so is the giant space sandwiched in between them — your walls. It may not cross your mind to take a cloth to them on a regular basis, but they are high-touch areas that collect debris from lots of dust particles, kids’ hands, spills and, if you have pets, slobber and mud. So giving them a regular deep clean is a must. Now, we know what you’re thinking: How am I supposed to reach the high spots? Can I scrub such a large area without completely running out of steam or, more importantly, without seriously straining my back? Not to worry — cleaning experts have some answers around how to clean walls that will make the job much easier than you expect. 

How to clean walls with a mop

how to clean walls: Woman wringing out the mop into the mop bucket
Antonio Hugo Photo/Getty

Before you start breaking out your ladder, don’t. Not only is that a safety hazard, it requires a lot of unnecessary elbow grease. Instead, allow your tools to do the work for you. “My best hack for wall cleaning is to use your mop,” says , says Whitney White, a cleaning specialist and owner of an Airbnb cleaning service in Denver. It can serve as the extendo-arm you need to wipe hard-to-reach areas and cover a lot of surface area quickly and efficiently. White prefers a spin mop, but you can also use a flat spray mop like a Swiffer or the like. 

White uses a two-mophead system to clean walls effectively. “I first dry dust the walls with a dry mophead,” she says. “This helps get any dust or hair off of the walls first so that you are not pushing dust around.” After you do that, working top to bottom so as not to miss any spots, swap out your mophead or cleaning pad for a fresh one, White recommends. This part is crucial. You don’t want to use your dusting mop to clean because you’ll end up slopping all of that gunk you just removed back onto the wall. 

Then, using hot water and an all purpose cleaner (mixed in a mop bucket or sprayed on the wall or mop, your choice) or scroll down for more solutions, use the mop to wipe the wall down in large vertical sweeping motions. You’ll be shocked to see the dirt that lifts. While you’re there, you can also hit your baseboards and trim with this method. 

Related: Cleaning Experts Reveal How to Clean Baseboards Without Breaking Your Back

How to make your own wall-cleaning solution

White recommends making your own simple wall-cleaning solution with products you likely already have in your cupboard. “I always suggest using a good multipurpose cleaner for walls,” she says. “You can make your own with a quart of water, 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar (it can break down residue and remove any grease build-up), and 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap.” The hotter the water you use, the more effective the solution will be at dissolving stubborn, sticky spots, like drool or hardened food. If you’re cleaning from a bucket, be sure to thoroughly wring your mop out with each dip in solution to avoid leaving drip marks or streaks — the head should be barely damp, never sopping wet.

Wall cleaning solution recipe using fabric softener

@Allisonscleanin, a popular house cleaner and influencer on Instagram and TikTok, regularly shares her love for “an old housekeeper secret” cleaning recipe that she says is “a miracle worker” on walls and baseboards. In fact, it was her own grandmother, who was also a cleaner, who passed it down to her. And it only calls for two ingredients: water and fabric softener. 

In a spray bottle, she mixes a ratio of ¼ softener to ¾ water, gives the bottle a shake, and sprays down grimey walls, baseboards and window sills before wiping spots with a microfiber cloth. The “softener” agent in the cleaner really breaks down stains and makes them easy to wipe away — no scrubbing needed. Allison prefers Gain softener because it smells great — she even sometimes uses softener scent beads, and they work the same. 

Not only does the formula get your walls clean, it also fills your whole house with the smell of fresh laundry. What could be better? That’s why, when Allison isn’t using this solution on walls, she finishes every room’s soft surfaces — carpets, couches, blankets — with a generous spritz (she calls the moment “spritz o’ clock”) to leave it smelling as clean as possible.

If you’re not a fragrance-loving person, no worries. Allison says you can get the same dirt-fighting power of this recipe from a fragrance-free softener. 

See the DIY solution in action in her TikTok here:

How to clean walls without damaging paint 

It’s understandable to be concerned about removing or tarnishing paint when cleaning your walls. There are a few things you can do to run damage control.

1. Spot test

Choose an inconspicuous area of the wall and apply a small amount of your chosen cleaner. If the wall shows no visible damage after 24 hours, proceed with cleaning. If, however, you notice discoloration or other damage, call a professional, or try another, gentler cleaner. When in doubt, go with basic soap and water.

2. Avoid flat paint

This doesn’t necessarily help if your walls are already painted or you don’t plan to repaint them, but if you do paint, White recommends avoiding flat or matte finishes. “Flat paint is almost impossible to be cleaned, and will leave a streak with every swipe,” she says. “It is also prone to showing fingerprints which can be almost impossible to remove. I recommend using an eggshell paint instead.”

Related: How to Remove Fingerprints on Anything – Cleaning Pros Reveal Easy Fixes

How to spot clean walls 

General wall cleaning with a solution may not address scuffs or, say, little ones’ art projects scribbled down a hallway. If you’re faced with either of those, you’ll need to give them special treatment with something like a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which will erase the marks away. Just remember to go slow and use gentle pressure to avoid damaging paint.

Related: How Do Magic Erasers Work?

Lastly, it’s important to remember that cleaning walls includes addressing light switches, outlet covers and anything else that might be built into the surface. (Light switches and door knobs are especially prone to harboring bacteria.) However, you don’t want to use a wet mop on anything electricity-baring. Instead, spray a microfiber cloth with a small amount of cleaner and give the hardware a wipe down. Then, your walls will be expert-level clean.

Related: Use This Cheap Trick to Remove the Stinky Smells Coming From Your Walls

For more wall-related hacks, click through the links below!

Home Pro’s #1 DIY Trick Makes It So Easy to Remove Wallpaper

How to Hang Picture Frames on Any Wall: Home Pros’ Tricks Make It So Easy

Easy Stick-on Wallpaper Ideas: Design Pros Reveal Tips for Instantly Impressive Results

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