Home & Garden

March 22, 2014

Clean walls help the house sparkle

It’s easy to pass by walls and woodwork every day without a second glance, but cleaning them up will make a big difference.

It’s easy to pass by walls and woodwork every day without a second glance, but cleaning them up will make a big difference.

Dirt and scuffs

Walls tend to get dirtiest around light switches and door knobs. They also get marked up from accidental kicks or toddlers’ hands.

These marks are best tackled right away. “The sooner you can get to a mark that is noticeable, the easier it will be” to clean, said Sharon Grech of Benjamin Moore.

People are wary of cleaning painted surfaces, but Grech said the technology has improved over the last decade, and paints are more stain-resistant and durable for cleaning.

Still, it’s important to use the right products.

To remove everyday marks, Grech suggests using a clean cellulose sponge with a little 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.

Amy Panos of Better Homes and Gardens likes a foam eraser pad, such as Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, but 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 manufacturers for use on most paints, including flat and semi-gloss.

“They’re quite incredible,” Panos said of the pads. “They take care of a lot.”

Doorways and trim are often coated in easy-to-wipe paints but in light colors such as white and cream that make marks especially visible. Cleaning those areas can instantly make the room seem brighter.

“It really glistens,” Grech said. “It’s like putting on a nice lip gloss.”

Dust and cobwebs

Many people overlook cleaning the whole wall, Panos said. Once you have a fresh coat of paint, lightly dust the walls about every three months.

“Make it easy on yourself by getting a tool with an extension pole so that you can stand on the ground and take care of the job in just a few minutes rather than having to drag out a ladder,” she said.

Clean the ceiling first, with a dust-attracting microfiber mop on the 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.

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