How to Clean Walls Without Removing or Damaging Paint!

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

Is your family about to come into town for a visit? Are you preparing to move out of your apartment and desperately wanting to get your deposit back?

One major part of your house you should clean is your walls and baseboards. Clean walls and baseboards can instantly transform your home.

Thoroughly cleaning your walls and baseboards without damaging paint  might sound intimidating, but you can easily get the job done if you follow these simple steps:

First, you should prepare the area by moving furniture and laying down a drop cloth. Then, you should dust your walls. After that, begin gently cleaning with warm water and soap. Lastly, dry your walls and inspect to see if you missed any spots. Be sure to clean your walls yearly to avoid grime build-up.

Recommended Tools for the Job

NOTE: Depending on your end goal and the status of your walls, you may not need every item on the list. You can complete basic wall cleaning with a sponge, warm water, a damp cloth, and a dry cloth. The other items on the list are recommended for ease of the task and special circumstances.

Before You Start

Before you begin moving furniture and cleaning the entire wall, be sure to test your cleaning materials on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall. You don’t want to risk having a permanent wet spot in an obvious area.

Clear the Space

After your materials have passed the spot test, you should move any furniture and decor on or near the walls you intend to clean. You might need furniture sliders, or a friend, to help you move larger pieces of furniture.

Protect Your Floors

Next, you should lay down a drop cloth to protect your floors or carpet from water and soap that may drip down the wall. If you don’t have a drop cloth, you can lay down some old towels or tarp to cover the area.


After you have protected your floors or carpet, I recommend dusting your walls. Dusting your walls will help to remove any dirt. This will leave you with the harder-to-clean, oils and grime on the walls.

You can use a long-handled duster for larger areas.

Start Cleaning

Then, you can begin the cleaning process. Dip a sponge in clean, warm water and clear, liquid soap. You can use a damp cloth if you do not have a sponge handy. Avoid hard scrubbing.

Tips For Cleaning

You should rinse your sponge out often to avoid smearing oils along the wall. If you are cleaning an entire room, you should also change out your water 1-2 times. Clean in a W-pattern, just like when you vacuum.

Use Only Clear Liquid Soap

It is important that you use clear, liquid soap. Soaps with color in them may have dyes or additional chemicals that can harm the paint or cause it to chip. Do not use bar soap because it dries in chunks and could damage the walls or stick to your walls.

Special Conditions

Flat Paint

Flat colors and eggshell colors on walls have a tendency to rub off if wiped too hard. I recommend using a magic eraser in a down-stroke motion. Before wiping down a large area, remember to test an inconspicuous area.

Stubborn Marks

If you have stubborn marks on your wall, you can use baking soda. Simply dip a damp cloth into baking soda and gently rub it on the wall. Wipe off with a clean, damp cloth.

Greasy Spots

For greasy spots, you can put regular white chalk directly onto the affected area. Then, gently wipe it off with a cloth.

Latex Based Paint

If you are trying to remove a stain from a latex-based painted wall, use white vinegar. You should use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Do not scrub hard.

Drying The Wall

To dry the wall, use a microfiber cloth, or soft cloth. You can also use a flat-headed mop with a microfiber cloth attached to it for a larger area. You will want to use a W-pattern when drying the wall.

Touch-up Paint

Although the goal is to clean your walls without removing the paint, accidents happen. I recommend having touch-up paint on hand, just in case.

If you live in an apartment, ask the leasing office what color paint they used for your apartment walls. You may be able to put in a maintenance request for a paint touch-up, free of charge.

There are also apps in online mobile application stores that may be able to help you identify the wall color.

Another option is to take a picture of your wall and bring it to a local home improvement store to find a close representation of the paint color.

Be sure to turn the brightness up on your phone when showing the picture. Be aware that the paint color may not be an exact match.

Cleaning Baseboards

Another part of cleaning your walls includes cleaning the baseboards. You should start by using a duster or the dust attachment on your vacuum. After you have dusted your baseboards, use a dry microfiber cloth, then a wet microfiber cloth to wipe them down

Tip: Do NOT use a mop to clean your baseboards. This will cause dust and dirt to easily stick to the baseboards.

Moving Items Back

Before moving furniture and wall decor back to its spot, you should wait at least 24 hours. Complete a final inspection of your walls to make sure you don’t need to touch up any areas. Begin moving your furniture and wall decor back to their original places.

Wall and Baseboard Maintenance

To upkeep the cleanliness of your walls, you should avoid putting larger furniture, such as a couch or TV stand directly against your wall. This will decrease the amount of dust that gathers in one area. You should clean your walls yearly, and your baseboards every 3 months.

Preventative Measures

After you have cleaned your walls, I recommend using a paint protectant, otherwise known as a clear coat. This helps sustain the color of your walls. It will also help you to avoid removing paint from the walls the next time you have to clean them.

Closing Thoughts

To ensure you maintain a clean home, do not forsake cleaning your walls. If you spend time cleaning them on a regular basis, you will save yourself time and money by not having to repaint your walls.

If you are having guests or family over, they may not notice clean walls. But, they will definitely notice dirty walls. Save yourself the embarrassment by cleaning beforehand.

If you are looking to move out of your apartment soon, it is important to have your apartment looking spotless. The leasing office will look for any reason to keep your money. Don’t let dirty walls be the reason.

If you follow these recommendations, you are sure to have a well-maintained home.

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About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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