Best Way to Clean Walls for Painting blog post

Best Way to Clean Walls for Painting

Are you gearing up for a home painting project but stuck at the crucial step of cleaning your walls?

I know the frustration of facing stubborn stains, grease marks on a previously painted wall all too well.

But don’t give up, for cleaning is an essential part of any DIY paint job and knowing the easiest way to clean walls will save you A LOT of time and hassle.

Learning how to clean painted walls was one of the first things I learnt when training to be a professional painter.

In this article, I will share various ways to clean painted walls, whether professional painters actually clean walls before painting a room and how long you should wait to paint your walls after cleaning.

Woman scrubbing wall with sponge to get it ready for painting

What Is the Best Thing to Wash Walls with Before Painting?

You need to clean your walls before painting to help the paint adhere to your walls and guarantee the best finish.

There are various ways to clean walls before painting. However, the most effective way to wash walls will depend on the surface you need to wash, how much time you have to clean, and the type of cleaning solution you want to use.

In the following two sections, I will share the two most popular ways to clean walls before painting.

Washing Walls with Sugar Soap Before Painting

One of the best ways to clean walls before painting is with a sugar soap solution. 
Before we get into how to clean walls with sugar soap, it’s worth mentioning that sugar soap comes in two forms, liquid and powdered sugar soap.
Now that’s cleared up, let’s get into the steps you need to follow when cleaning walls with sugar soap:
1. Put rubber gloves on your hands before you wash the walls.
2. Fill two large buckets with warm water from your tap. 
3. Mix the liquid sugar soap (100ml per 4.5 litres) or powdered sugar soap (250 grams per 4.5 litres) into one water bucket. 
4. The next step is to mix the solution until it’s combined and ready to be used to remove dirt from your painted walls.
5. Dip a sponge into the bucket with the soap and water and ring it out. Now, give the wall a good scrub, cleaning walls from the bottom up to the top.
6. The final step is to wipe off the sugar soap solution with a clean sponge. For this, take a new sponge, dip it into your second bucket containing warm water, and wipe down the cleaned walls from the top to the bottom.

Homemade Solution to Wash Walls Before Painting

If you don’t have sugar soap available, you can whip up a homemade cleaning solution instead.

Homemade options are almost as effective as sugar soap at cleaning walls for painting, so you won’t have any issues with using them to remove dirt marks and stains from your walls.

In the next two sections, I will share two homemade products that you can use to clean your walls before you begin to paint them:

Cleaning Walls with Vinegar

One of the best ways to clean walls is with a vinegar solution. 
Vinegar is a natural paint stripper. So, cleaning with vinegar will do a great job of removing old paint and grease to give you a clean surface ready to be painted.
Here’s the process you need to follow for washing walls with vinegar:
1. Put rubber gloves on your hands before scrubbing your dirty wall.
2. Fill a large bucket with 3l of water. 
3. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the bucket and stir the solution. 
4. Soak a sponge in the solution and ring it out so it’s damp but not soaking wet.  
5. Start scrubbing your walls with the sponge in circular motions. 
6. Begin to dry your walls with microfibre cloths. 

Cleaning Walls with Baking Soda

Another homemade cleaning solution you can use to remove dirt, dust, and grime from your walls before painting is baking soda.
Here’s how to prepare your walls with baking soda:
1. Put rubber gloves on your hands Before cleaning your walls with baking soda.
2. Fill a bucket with 3L of water.
3. Add 12 tablespoons of baking soda to the bucket to create a cleaning solution.
4. Soak a sponge in the solution and ring it out to get it ready for cleaning. 
5. Begin wiping your surfaces with the soapy sponge. 
6. Dry the walls with a microfibre cloth. 
Quickly cleaning a wall with a cloth

Fastest Way to Clean Walls Before Painting

The fastest way to clean walls without taking too much time is to spot-clean the dirtiest areas without cleaning the entire surface. 
Here’s how:
1. Start by dusting your walls using a duster or a microfibre cloth. When you do this, you remove any loose dust or cobwebs that can affect how well the paint finish looks.
2. Clean stains off your walls using a sponge soaked in a soapy warm water solution (with either baking soda or sugar soap – following one of the options listed above)
3. Rinse the wall with a clean sponge soaked in a warm water solution.
4. Dry the walls with a clean microfibre cloth.
After this, ensure your walls are dry, finish preparing the walls and then begin painting.

Do Professional Painters Wash Walls Before Painting?

Yes, every good professional painter and decorator will clean the walls before painting any interior space.

Cleaning walls is a key part of preparing surfaces for decorating. It will result in a better quality finish by helping the interior paint adhere to the surface and give a smoother finish.

As a result, when you have clean painted walls, the finish tends to be more pleasing to the eye and durable.

So, cleaning your walls before a fresh paint job is a no-brainer.

Man and woman painting a cleaned wall with a paint roller

How Long to Wait After Washing Walls Before Painting

Now we have covered how to clean your walls before painting, let’s look at how long you’ll need to wait before you apply the wall paint to your surfaces.

Generally, you can paint your walls after they have fully dried after cleaning. This usually takes between 4-24 hours to completely dry.

However, the exact amount of time it takes for your walls to dry will depend on the temperature and humidity of your room and the cleaning method you use.

The easiest way to figure out when your walls are ready to be painted is to press a paper towel onto your wall and check whether any moisture ends on the towel.