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Learn How to Clean Shabby White Walls For an Instant Home Makeover

White walls can add a clean and spacious appearance to any home, but when they get dirty after years of wear and tear, it can seriously downgrade that once-fresh look. While avoiding shabby-looking walls is a nice concept, in reality, it can take much more than a wipe-down to get them looking brand new again. 

White walls get dirty very easily, but whether the culprit is scuffs, fingerprints, or muddy paws, some little-known hacks can provide insight into the best way to clean white walls and give your home a low-maintenance makeover. The first step to knowing how to clean white walls is using a wet sponge with an all-natural homemade solution, a store-bought natural cleaning product, or a multi-purpose cleaning spray

Most commonly, people use dish soap and water or a paste made from baking soda and water. Commercial products like Magic Erasers and other all-purpose cleaners are common.  While Magic Erasers are non-toxic, they’re not the most eco-friendly option since they aren’t biodegradable. Still, they can slough off tough messes and stains (even tomato sauce and coffee) and are considered a better alternative to stronger chemical-based cleaners which emit odors.

How Often Should White Walls Be Cleaned?

If you’re doing a DIY deep clean, there are several ways to do a full wipe-down of the walls in your house. Most commonly, this is done when you first move into a house or apartment. Rather thankfully washing your walls regularly, you’ll probably have to spot clean instead. If you have kids or pets, you may be spot-cleaning more regularly. If you just moved in and see brown spots or stains that are hard to remove, you may want to hire a professional cleaner. 

If you are willing to brave the process of learning how to clean white walls, read our guide below to find out the best way to turn those smudged walls sparkling once again.

How to Clean White Walls

1. Gather your materials and get to dusting

You’ll need both a non-abrasive sponge and a slightly damp microfiber cloth, but keep a Magic Eraser or a scrubbing brush on hand for hard-to-remove spots. First, start dusting walls with a damp cloth from top to bottom. Be sure to rinse and wring your cloth as you go to avoid spreading dirt around. If you want to do a deeper clean, grab a step ladder and consider spraying some all-purpose cleaner to dislodge more stubborn stains. Scrubber brushes can help get to high corners and tricky areas better than cloths or sponges, as can using a dry-mop head wrapped in a soft cloth. 

2. Spot clean with dish soap or spray

Spray your all-purpose cleaner on a rag, cloth, or reusable paper towel. Disposable paper towels can disintegrate when wet and leave even more residue. This cleaner should be able to work on grease, as it may need to cut through food messes. For stains that just won’t budge, you’ll want to use the ultimate grease-tackler: dish soap. Mild dish soap without tons of fragrances is ideal. Wet your sponge and add a dot to it, sudsing it up and rubbing the stain until suds appear. Let it set for a couple of minutes, and then wipe it with a clean, wet microfiber cloth. 

3. Go DIY

Finally, you can make a homemade cleaning solution as an alternative to all of the above. It’s a great all-natural method for those who have a chemical-free home. Create a sticky paste with three parts baking soda and one part water. Then, spread the paste on your wall and let it soak as long as possible before wiping it away with a damp cloth. Vinegar and warm water are also superb DIY options. Add a cup of white vinegar to a bucket filled with warm water and apply with your soft sponge. Vinegar is necessary for brick or oil-based walls. 

4. Opt for a foolproof Magic Eraser
If you’ve tried all of the above and your walls refuse to turn white again, wet a Magic Eraser and gently wipe until the stain is gone. This method takes significantly less effort than the other methods, but beware when using on semi-gloss and gloss-painted walls since this can dull the paint and leave marks, so don’t be aggressive with this commercial cleaner. Learning how to clean white walls without removing paint is truly an art, so going gently and slowly is key. Pro tip: a Magic Eraser can only be used on a truly white wall. Otherwise, it will leave spots behind. 

How to Keep White Walls Cleaner for Longer

  • If walls are past saving and it’s been a while since you’ve done a repaint, it may be a good idea to invest in a fresh coat of paint. Many paint varieties are stain-proof and easier to wipe down when it comes to spot cleaning. You can also do paint touchups instead of a complete repaint. 
  • To fully grasp how to keep white walls clean for longer, you must understand that prevention and regular maintenance are key. For that reason, dusting and vacuuming more frequently are key. While keeping your floor clean can help prevent dirt from being kicked onto the walls, if you have a ceiling fan, that’s a major culprit that can sprinkle dust everywhere and leave it sticking to walls. 
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to spot-clean weekly! Don’t use too much water on your sponge since it can leave drip marks, but upkeep and maintenance can go a long way.

Mr Clean Magic Eraser

Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser can handle any smeared-on mess or stains with its unique durafoam that’s twice as strong as bleach spray and disintegrates while you’re using it. Just by adding water, you have yourself a simple DIY cleaning tactic that can also be used in different areas of the house.

Chomp Long Handle Dust Mop

The ultimate tool for wall washing, this American-made dust mop has an extendable steel handle and comes with a washable microfiber pad, removing the need for a cloth altogether. Whether you’re wet cleaning or dry cleaning your walls and baseboards, the glowing reviews on this tool will convince you to make the investment. 

Bastion Wall Cleaner Spray

While you could definitely use any all-purpose cleaner you have at home, there are also companies like Bastion that develop cleaning sprays specifically for walls to avoid damaging them. Matte, gloss, wood, and stone walls alike can all be tackled with this non-toxic, USA-made spray that greatly extends the time between repaints.

ZEP Foaming Wall Cleaner

Even if you learn how to clean white walls till they’re pristine, it’s not the most fun process. If scrubbing down walls with a cloth or sponge isn’t your jam, consider this innovative foaming wall cleaner by Zep, which removes stains without damaging finishes. The most appealing feature of this foam is that it’s a scrub-free formula, cleaning white walls of stains and scuffs without any residue or damaged finishes. 

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