Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Clean Your Walls and Ceilings


Wallcoverings
Paper wallcoverings are considered nonwashable and require special cleaning techniques. Many wallcoverings are made of washable vinyl. Some manufacturers caution against using ammonia on these products, so be sure to check the instructions or test the cleaning product you plan to use in an inconspicuous area or on a leftover piece.

Sponge washable wallcoverings and some vinyl coverings with a mild detergent. To find out how much elbow grease your paper can take, first work on a scrap.

Lift grease stains from washable wallpaper with a paste made of cornstarch and water. Alternately, rub dry borax over the stains.

To remove a grease spot from nonwashable wallpaper, place a blotter over the spot and press it with a moderately hot iron. The blotter will soak up the grease.

Recipes for Cleaning Vinyl Wallcoverings
Here are two mixtures that can make it easier to clean vinyl wallcoverings.
  1. Mix 1⁄2 cup vinegar and 1 quart water, and gently apply to the surface with a sponge. Caution: Wear rubber gloves. Don't use too much moisture; it could seep under the seams and loosen the backing.
  2. Make a detergent to clean vinyl wallcoverings with a minimum of moisture. Mix 1⁄4 cup dishwashing liquid with 1 cup warm water in a mixing bowl, and beat the mixture to a stiff foam with an eggbeater. Working in a small area, dip a sponge into the foam and apply it to the wall to loosen dirt. Rinse the detergent with a sponge dipped in clear water and squeezed dry.

To remove crayon marks on wallpaper, rub carefully with a dry, soap-filled, fine-grade steel-wool pad; or use a wad of white paper towel moistened with dry-cleaning solvent and delicately sponge the surface. Carefully blot to prevent the solvent from spreading and discoloring the paper.

Smudges, finger marks, and pencil marks can be removed from the surface of papered walls by very gently rubbing the spots with an art gum eraser.

Clean nonwashable wallpaper with rye bread. Make a fist-size wad of bread, and rub it across discolorations and dirt.

We'll finish up this article by focusing on wood, a staple in many basements and family rooms.


More to Explore