How To Clean Walls Before Painting

How To Clean Walls Before Painting?

Do you want to know the secret to the perfectly done paint job? It is 80% of wall preparation and 20% of final paintwork. If you don’t take the time to clean your walls before painting, you’re in for a big headache later.

Cleaning or washing walls before painting will remove any dirt, dust, or grease that may be on the surface. Hence allowing the paint to adhere better and create a smoother finish.

A lot of DIYers working on painting projects don’t bother about the prep because it is a tedious task. Similarly, many professional painters usually skip this process because cleaning is not their job unless, of course, you’re willing to pay them for the extra work.

How To Clean Walls Before Painting Them?

How To Clean Walls Before Painting Them?

Cleaning the walls before applying paint can be done with a broom, vacuum cleaner or rag, or water solution. Ensure this step is done well if you want a good-looking, long-lasting paint job.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

  • Water Bucket
  • Detergent/Soap/TSP
  • Damp Sponge
  • Cloth and Rag
  • Painters Tape
  • Paint & Brush
  • Primer
  • Putty Knife
  • Vaccum
  • Sand Paper
  • Tarp or plastic coverings
  • Ladder
  • Caulk and Caulking Gun
  • Safety Glasses
  • Dust Mask
  • Gloves

1. Prepare The Space

The first step is to prepare the space by removing furniture and other items from the room. It will give you more room to work. Use painter’s tape to cover the edges of the wall where it meets the ceiling, floor, and trim.

TIP: Cover the floor and appliances with a drop cloth or plastic cover. It will help in protecting them against dust and paint splatter.

2. Wash With Detergent

Next, it is time to rinse the walls with lukewarm water and a detergent solution to remove all the grease or grime. You can also use vinegar and water or TSP solution if you are comfortable.

Dip the sponge in the water, then slowly wipe the area in a circular motion. Once you’re done, turn on the fans or use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process.

NOTE: Remember you do not need to scrub the walls or deep clean them. You just need to remove the existing dirt and grime by gently scrubbing the wall.

3. Fix Cracks and Sand Walls

After washing, the next step is to inspect for any wall damage such as cracks, holes or dents. These need to be fixed before painting as they will only become more evident after the paint is completed.

You can use a putty knife or spackle to fill in the small cracks. For large holes, you can use a piece of drywall or plasterboard to patch them up. Once you have done that, sand the area until it is flush with the wall.

TIP: Use caulk to seal any seams or gaps in the surface or near edges. This will help to prevent the paint from chipping off over time.

4. Apply Primer

Applying primer is an important step in painting walls. It helps to seal the surface and prevents the paint from peeling off. It is also very effective in covering stains or any other imperfections.

To apply primer on walls, you can use a roller or a brush. For best results, it is recommended to use a roller for large areas and a brush for the corners and edges.

TIP: Make sure to shake the primer well before using it. Pour some primer onto a tray and start painting from the top of the wall, working your way down.

Once the primer is dry, you can start painting the walls with your desired color.

Do You Have to Wash a Wall Before You Paint It?

There are several reasons why all major paint manufacturers recommend washing walls before painting such as:

  • It removes dirt, stains, and grease
  • It helps avoid paint failure (chipping, peeling and flaking) hence improving adhesion
  • Allows a refined finish
NOTE: Washing is generally suitable for areas where there is a lot of traffic such as living and kids rooms or greasy areas such as the kitchen or bathroom.

However, you can skip it if the walls are already painted and it is free from stains or grease. For such walls, you can just dust off the cobwebs and dirt using a broom or vacuum cleaner.

How To Clean Greasy Kitchen Walls?

Grease can build up quickly in the kitchen, making it necessary to wash the walls. There are several solutions you can try for this purpose such as:

  • Water and Dish Soap/Detergent – Add one tablespoon of dish soap to a bucket of lukewarm water and mix well. Use a sponge or cloth to wipe down the grease-covered areas. Rinse the area with clean water and let it dry completely.
  • Vinegar and Water – This is a strong solution that can be used on walls that have a thick layer of grease. Mix one part vinegar with one part water in a bucket and use a sponge to apply it to the affected areas. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes before scrubbing the area with a brush. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let it dry.
  • TSP and Water – If the grease is tough, you can use a TSP (triple-sodium phosphate) solution. Mix one cup of TSP with two gallons of water and stir it. Use a cloth or sponge to apply it to the affected areas and allow it to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse with clean water.
  • Baking Soda and Water – This is a gentle solution that can be used on all types of surfaces. Mix one part baking soda with two parts water to form a paste. Apply it to the grease-covered areas and let it sit for 5 minutes. Once it dries completely, then scrub it off with a clean brush.

How To Clean New Drywall Before Painting?

If you have just installed new drywall, it is likely there will be a lot of dust. Failure to clean it may lead to the paint peeling or flaking off. Here’s how you can clean it:

  1. Remove all the dust with a vacuum cleaner or a damp cloth
  2. Then clean the wall with water + white vinegar solution and let it dry out
  3. Next prime it with a good quality primer
  4. Now you’re ready to paint over your drywall

How To Clean Smoke Stained Walls Before Painting?

Smoke stains often occur near fireplaces or where people smoke cigarettes indoors. The problem is that new paint cannot cover such stains without doing the right prep work.

Additionally, nicotine and tar can damage your drywall and wallpaper. To clean the walls and prep them for painting, you can try:

  1. Use a de-greaser and apply it over the stained area with a moist sponge
  2. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with clean water
  3. If the smoke stains are really tough, repeat the degreasing process until you are satisfied

How To Remove Mildew on Walls Before Painting?

Mildew often forms in humid areas such as bathrooms or kitchens. Use a mold-killing solution such as bleach and water (one part bleach and three parts water). Apply it to the affected area with a brush or sponge. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with clean water.

NOTE: Make sure to dry the surface completely because if you do not, the chances of mold coming back again are very high.

What is the Best Mild Detergent For Cleaning Walls?

We have researched the best mild detergents that you can use for washing or cleaning walls. Each product has its pros and cons. You can choose the one that best suits your interests

1. Puracy Dish Soap

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Puracy Natural Dish Soap – a high foam, fast-rinsing, family-safe alternative to dish soaps made with petroleum-based chemicals or harsh sulphates.

It was developed by doctors to be gentle on your skin yet uniquely effective on dishware. The premium ingredients are sourced from plants, minerals, water, and a hint of fresh green tea and lime.

We recommend Puracy dish soap for wall cleaning if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to strong chemicals. The ingredients are biodegradable and environmentally responsible and can be used on painted walls, ceramic tiles, glass, and much more.


  • Multi-purpose surface cleaner
  • Gentle on hands
  • Fast-rinsing
  • Comes in a recyclable bottle


  • May not be effective for tough stains since it is made of natural ingredients
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2. Biokleen Dish Liquid

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Biokleen Dish Liquid is made with natural ingredients. It is effective in removing grease and dried-on food, and it rinses off clean leaving no residue. Moreover, its formula is also concentrated so a little goes a long way.

We recommend Biokleen dish liquid for wall cleaning because it is tough on grease and food yet gentle on your hands and the environment. The ingredients are biodegradable and safe for septic systems.


  • Organic plant-based solution
  • Free from phosphate
  • Removes grease and stains effectively
  • Safer Choice Certified
  • Odor-free
  • Made in the USA


  • Does not produce a lot of suds
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3. Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap

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Unlike many other soaps, Mrs. Meyer’s liquid soap is a natural and gentle alternative to harsh chemicals. It is specifically made to cut through grease hence will leave your wall surface clean and stain-free – without any of the nasty chemicals.

This soap is biodegradable and is made with natural ingredients. Additionally, it does not contain any synthetic fragrances, dyes, or parabens.

We recommend Mrs. Meyer’s Soap because it is effective in removing dirt and grease. Furthermore, it is safe for your family, an environmentally friendly product, and has a pleasant scent.


  • Effective solution for removing greasy stains
  • Quick and easy rinse – makes the cleaning process a breeze
  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable
  • Non-toxic – Good for cleaning all kinds of walls


  • Some users find the scent overpowering
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Related Questions

No, you should always clean your walls before painting. This will ensure that the paint adheres properly and also that any dirt or stains are not visible through the paint.

To clean walls with vinegar before painting, mix one-part vinegar with three parts of water. Apply it to the grease-covered areas and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Scrub it with a sponge or rinse with clean water.

No, you should not use bleach to clean your walls as it can damage them. However, if you are looking to remove mildew, then there are other solutions that you can use such as vinegar and water or a mildew-killing solution.

No, you should not paint over wallpaper because eventually, the paint will flake off, especially if the wallpaper is sheen or heavily textured. The best way to get rid of wallpaper is to remove it completely and then sand the surface before priming and painting.

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