Walls can get dirty before you know it, from a splatter of spaghetti dinner to the crayon artistry of a roaming toddler to fingers simply reaching for a light switch.
It’s easy to pass by walls and woodwork every day without a second glance, but spring-cleaning season is a great time to give them the attention they deserve.
“It doesn’t have to be as difficult of a job as it sounds,” said Amy Panos, senior editor at Better Homes and Gardens. “The easier you can make it on yourself, the more likely you are to do it.”
Dirt and scuffs: Walls tend to get dirtiest around light switches and door knobs.
“The sooner you can get to a mark that is noticeable, the easier it will be” to clean, said Sharon Grech, a color and design expert for Benjamin Moore.
Grech said paints now are more stain-resistant and durable for cleaning.
Still, it’s important to use the right products.
To remove everyday marks, Grech suggested using a clean cellulose sponge with warm water.
“Just give it a good rub,” she said. “Wait for it to dry and see if it’s clean.”
If the dirt is still evident, repeat the process using a dab of dish detergent and wipe the area dry with a clean sponge, rag or paper towel.
“Warm water does miracles with a sponge,” Grech said. “You want to avoid using regular household cleaners that have ammonia and other products in them” because they can change the sheen of the paint.
Panos likes the ease of a foam eraser pad, like Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, though be sure to test it first in an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t remove the color or finish.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is approved by the manufacturer for use on most paints, including flat and semi-gloss paint.
Don’t forget doorways and trim, often coated in easy-to-wipe paints but in light colors like white and cream that make marks especially visible.
Dust and cobwebs: Lightly dust the walls about every three months.
Clean the ceiling first, with a dust-attracting microfiber mop on an extension pole for smooth ceilings, or a slightly damp paint roller on the pole for a popcorn ceiling, she said.
The walls can be cleaned from top to bottom with the mop (dry or slightly damp), and the baseboards hand-cleaned with a microfiber cloth.
Grech recommends regular cleaning where dusts collects, such as on baseboards, and on window ledges, where it can mix with moisture and turn into a mess.
Cleaning the walls won’t prolong the paint job, she said, but it will help keep them looking their best.
“You want to clean the areas that are getting a little bit more abused to keep it fresh,” she said.