Your freshly painted, bright walls will probably not last forever, no matter how hard you try. Cigarette smoke, sticky fingerprints, or even drawn-on masterpieces by child artists can quickly ruin your walls.
If your walls look a little worse for wear, you can freshen them up with a quick wash. However, you need to be careful when washing your walls so that you don’t also wash off the paint!
The method you will use will depend on the kind of paint you have on your walls, as different kinds are sensitive to certain cleaning products.
If Your Paint Is Latex-Based
Latex-based paint is easy to clean off. You can use household cleaning products to scrub the dirt off this paint, as harsh cleaners tend to dissolve it.
First, dissolve a few drops of dishwashing detergent or a few tablespoons of distilled white vinegar in a bucket of warm water. Once you’ve formed the mixture, dip a rag or sponge in the bucket and start cleaning your walls. Before you start wiping your walls, be sure to wring out your sponge very well; wet sponges can leave streak marks on your walls. Use up-and-down motions to avoid too much streaking.
Once you go over the walls with the soapy mixture, rinse out the bucket and rag. Then, fill the bucket with only clean water. Finally, you can go over the walls with just water to clean off any soap or vinegar residue left on the walls. They can air-dry naturally.
If Your Paint Is Oil-Based
Oil-based paints are a little harder to clean than water-based latex paints. However, they are also more resistant to cleaning products and will not get damaged if you use a slightly harsher product. Meanwhile, if you use something like a degreaser on latex-based paint, it could cause permanent damage.
To prepare your solution for cleaning walls painted with oil-based paints, prepare your dish soap or vinegar solution as above. The only difference is that you can also use a degreaser.
A degreaser is a cleaning product that removes the buildup of grease or fat, which is particularly useful for kitchen walls. Spray your walls with this solution before you wash with water to clean away additional debris.
Tips for Washing Your Walls
No matter what type of paint you have on your wall, make sure that the sponge you are using is not too harsh. Scrubbing sponges can scrape away paint flakes in addition to dirt. It is best to use a soft sponge or a rag that will not damage the surface.
When cleaning your walls, be very careful when cleaning around electrical outlets. Use only a dry rag around those areas to avoid creating an electrical shock. You can even turn off the electricity to that outlet while you are cleaning it to protect yourself from unwanted shocks.
Finally, before you start cleaning your whole wall, test one small patch. This way, you will see if your at-home cleaning solution will work or if it could damage your paint.