How To Clean Walls Before Painting: Everything You Need To Know

So you’re ready to paint your home’s interior walls? You’ve come to the right place! There’s never a more high-priority place to start than prepping your room. Using proper pro-level prep work skills, let us help you achieve the best results!

Amazingly, you can update and refresh your home’s interior spaces by simply painting your walls! We’re confident with solid prep work; you’ll have an easy and smooth painting experience!

How to clean walls before painting: washing walls
Woman wiping white wall from dust with dry rag, back view. CLeaning service or regular clean up concept, copy space

We’ve created a complete step-by-step guide to help you know exactly how to clean walls before painting, including sanding and other necessary prep work. You’ll also learn the correct tools and materials needed to practice such excellent prep work. After using these pointers, you’ll understand why prep work is so crucial when it comes to painting!

How To Clean Walls Before Painting

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how best to clean and prep your interior walls for painting!

Step 1- Honest Truth: Why Cleaning Walls Before Painting Is So Important

When it comes to prepping your interior walls for painting, you may ask yourself if it’s that important to wash all your walls before applying primer and paint.

The simple answer is…yes!

We understand washing your walls can be time-consuming, but we promise you, it’s one of the most crucial steps when it comes to interior painting. Of course, there’s a debate on how in-depth you need to clean, but we say as long as your walls are free of dust, dirt, and debris, they are ready to go.

Washing your walls and trim will help remove any leftover grime, dust, cobwebs, and dirt that’s been building up over time. Just carrying out this extra step of eliminating grime before painting will keep your primer and paint fresh and long-lasting!

Step 2- Do Professional Painters Clean the Walls Before Painting?

The answer might surprise you, but usually, no, professional painters will not plan to clean your walls. Instead, professional painters arrive, assuming you’ve already carried out basic cleaning ahead of time.

You’ll need to wash your interior walls on your own or set up a cleaning service to deep clean your home before professional painters arrive.

The primary focus for deep cleaning walls should be kitchen and bathroom walls. Your interior walls build up dust, grime, dirt over time, but the kitchen and bathroom walls get the dirtiest.

Everyone wants to have the best results in the end, right? So by taking the time to prepare your walls properly, you’ll see the results you were hoping to see!

Step 3- Tools and Materials Needed

Pouring Paint Into a Tray

Here’s a list of Tools and Materials needed to clean and prep your walls for painting.

Tools Needed to Clean Walls for Painting

  • Luke Warm Water
  • Mild Soap or Blue Dawn
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Drop Cloth
  • Box Fans
  • Vacuum

Materials Needed to Prep Walls for Painting

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Wood Filler
  • Putty Knife
  • Paint Scraper
  • TSP Solution (if needed)
  • Vacuum
  • Baking Soda

Step 4- Washing Bedroom and Living Room Walls

Bedroom and Living room walls are the cleanest rooms in your home, so washing these walls should go pretty quickly!

Mix together lukewarm water and a few squirts of blue Dawn dish soap to wash. Use a soft cellulose sponge to apply your soap mixture to the wall, lightly scrub, apply the solution but never soak your walls and rinse your sponge often.

Make sure to wash away all of the dust, dirt, and cobwebs. Additionally, check for mold as you go. For hard-to-reach places, using a ladder and vacuum or shop vac can be helpful, especially when it comes to reaching corners, trim, and grooves.

Step 5- Washing Down Your Kitchen Walls

Kitchens are heavily used rooms needing the extra care for proper painting results to shine through! In addition, kitchen walls are filthy due to splatters, spills, steam, and leftover food residue.

Mix together lukewarm water and a few squirts of blue Dawn dish soap to wash your kitchen walls. Next, use your soft cellulose sponge and lightly scrub; apply the soapy mixture but never soak your walls and rinse your sponge frequently. Finally, apply a TSP solution with a clean shop rag to clean your walls thoroughly.

Make sure to wash away and vacuum all of the dust, dirt, and cobwebs.

By washing your kitchen walls appropriately, you’ll also avoid cases of mold and mildew developing between your wall and paint layers.

Step 6- Washing Your Bathroom Walls

Next, let’s clean your bathroom walls!

A lot goes on in bathrooms due to their heavy daily usage. As a result, water and steam droplets will dry on your walls and form a leftover residue. In addition, any products used, such as soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and hair sprays, leave spots and film on your walls.

It’s essential to wash your walls down so mold and mildew can’t ever develop under your paint over time, and grime won’t keep your paint from sticking to the walls.

Mix lukewarm water and blue Dawn dish soap to wash your bathroom walls. Use your soft cellulose sponge and lightly scrub. Apply the soapy mixture but never soak your walls and rinse your sponge often to free it from residue.

Using water and mild soap with a sponge should do the trick, but using a TSP solution with a shop rag may be needed on tougher messes. Make sure to wash away and vacuum all of the dust, dirt, and cobwebs as well.

Step 7- How To Remove Smoke Stains

Smoking will do a number to walls and paint. In addition, smoke stains leave behind an odor and create yellow stains you can usually see through coats of paint.

To remove smoke stains, creating a mixture of equal parts baking soda and water might do the trick!

Apply your baking soda paste to the wall with a sponge or clean rag and rub in a circular motion. This paste will help lighten or get rid of your smoke stains in most cases. The baking soda will also deodorize your wall and help give it a clean and fresh scent free of leftover odors.

After applying your baking soda paste, fill a bucket with lukewarm water and mild soap, then use a sponge to lightly scrub the wall area thoroughly, rinse with a clean wet sponge, and let your wall dry completely.

You should now be good to go and ready for primer and paint!

Step 8- How To Remove Mold and Mildew From Your Walls

Removing mold and mildew from your walls is non-negotiable. You must permanently remove mold and mildew before applying primer and paint. Covering mold and mildew with paint will only add moisture and cause it to continue spreading. Once mold and mildew are trapped, it spreads and causes extensive damage to and within your interior walls.

A way to get rid of mold and mildew is by mixing a 3-1 ratio of water and bleach. Apply your mixture with a clean cloth and lightly scrub your wall thoroughly; then rinse with a dampened cloth. Always wear a mask when removing mold. If you have extensive damage of more than 10 square feet, reach out to a professional for your safety.

Then, make a second solution of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar. Spray the mixture onto your walls and wipe it down thoroughly. Never allow your walls to become soaked through; we want to remove mold and moisture and never add to it! Always let your wall air dry completely before moving forward.

Finally, never apply paint and primer applications to damp walls, as this will also cause mold and mildew to grow between the wall and paint, which then causes many future issues.

For more info on mold, check out the EPA’s guide on interior mold and moisture.

Step 9- Additional Wall Prep For Painting

In some cases, you’ll find the need to use filler for any holes or imperfections in your walls. Remove any nails and screws and fill the remaining holes with spackling paste and a putty knife. Apply your paste, let it fully dry, then lightly sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper to create a once again smooth surface.

If you have old paint that’s flaking or peeling, use a paint scraper to smooth out all wall imperfections. Additionally, if you find any pieces of tape, remove these and the sticky residue they leave behind.

You want your wall to be as smooth as possible and free of anything that could cause your paint to separate from your wall or create unwanted imperfections in your paint!

Step 10- When Can You Avoid Washing The Walls?

Excellent prep work is essential with most walls, even when your walls appear clean. Walls will collect dust and dirt over time that causes paint not to adhere correctly and then causes peeling and cracking. What a mess!

In rare cases, it’s okay to skip this step, but most of the following would need to apply…

  • Your walls would need to be free of excessive dust, cobwebs, dirt, and debris.
  • There would need to be zero traces of grease or crayons stains.
  • You would have to be a pet-free home.
  • Your walls would need to have little to no contact with human hands, meaning the oils off your hands can cause residue on your walls.
  • Do you have a wood-burning fireplace? Wood-burning fireplaces can leave behind residue from smoke and embers.
  • Baths, showers, cooking, or anything that would cause spills or splatter on the walls had never happened.
  • Lastly, the area to be painted is vertical (never horizontal, such as your trim.)

Suppose you have interior walls that meet most of the above requirements? In that case, you could run the risk and avoid washing your walls.

Remember, when it comes to painting, eighty percent of the work is prep work, while twenty percent is the actual painting process. Therefore, the best prep work skills give long-lasting and outstanding results when carried out correctly!

Wrapping Up How To Clean Walls Before Painting

Now that you’ve appropriately washed, prepped, and sanded your walls, you can begin your painting journey to freshly updated interior walls!

You’ll rest assured by taking this extra time to prep correctly and putting in the extra effort; in the end, it will pay off! Pat yourself on the back; you’ve set yourself up for the best results possible!

Here at Minneapolis Painting Company, it’s important to us you apply the best skills to carry out final quality results! We’re here to help and answer any questions you may have along the way!

Schedule Your Free Interior Painting Estimate Today