It’s your turn to host the big family reunion. Or, maybe you have a graduation open house planned, or a wedding, or some other big event at your home.

It would be so nice to hire a staging company to completely set up your home, picture-perfect, in a way that would impress even Great-Aunt Gertrude. Instead you face reality, prioritize the projects and figure out the budget.

You could buy enough paint for a fresh coat in all the rooms. Aunt Gertrude would be impressed. But a thorough wall-washing may be all you need, and could save time and money.

Before you get out the harsh cleaners and scrubby brushes, there are a few things to know about the best way to clean walls.


Remove the decorations, artwork, and curtains. Get everything off the walls so you have a blank surface to start cleaning. Next, get rid of the dust. Either vacuum or use a soft cloth or brush to remove hidden webs in corners and up high on the walls.

Protect the furniture and floor. Move items to the center of the room, away from the walls. This will give you more room to work and protect the furniture from drips while cleaning. Use a sheet or simple tarp to cover large upholstered furniture, or that special grandfather clock that Aunt Gertrude gave you.


Know your paint type, and use the correct cleaner. Walls covered with latex paint require more care than those with an oil-based paint. Latex-painted walls should not be cleaned with a de-greaser, but a few drops of mild detergent or white vinegar in water.

You may be tempted to clean doorframes, baseboard and trim at the same time. Now is a good time to clean them, but they may need a different cleaning solution, depending on their surface finish.

Proper Technique to Clean Walls

Don’t use a scrubby sponge, Teflon pad or stiff brush. Instead, a soft sponge or lint-free cloth will give the best cleaning surface without damaging the wall.

Two buckets work best, one with the cleaning solution and one with clean water for rinsing.

Wring out your sponge as much as possible, to avoid dirty drips down the wall. Wipe one section of the wall, from bottom towards the top, to avoid drips. Rinse the sponge frequently.

Work on one wall at a time, finishing it completely before moving to the next wall section. Trying to do all the high areas first because you got the ladder out may seem like a good idea, but could cause wash marks that are evident when the wall is dry.

Although you should never soak the wall while washing, airflow will help. Open the windows or run a fan to speed up the drying process.

When you get that phone call about Great-Aunt Gertrude deciding to arrive a few days earlier, know that you can call ServiceMaster by the Border to take care of all this. We can’t help with the Gertrudes in your life, but we can help with the cleaning tasks to get ready for her visit.