How To Clean White Walls

Updated: Jun. 13, 2024

Are your white walls looking dull and dirty? Learn how to clean them and bring back their luster with our expert tips!

White walls provide a fresh, clean look, in a timeless style that makes decorating your home easier. “White wall paint is a great choice if you’re looking to make a room feel bigger because bright white paint will reflect any light in the space,” says Ashley Banbury, a color expert at Dutch Boy paint.

The downside? Dust and dirt are more visible on white walls than on other paint colors. Keeping your white walls clean presents a challenge, but these expert tips can be your secret advantage.

How Often To Clean White Walls

Regular cleaning is necessary to keep any painted walls looking fresh and free from dirt or marks,” says Karina Toner, operations manager of Spekless Cleaning. She recommends lightly cleaning white walls every few months, with deeper cleanings once or twice a year.

“High-traffic areas or rooms prone to smudges may require more frequent cleaning, about every three to six months,” Toner says. “The goal is to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of the walls, so adapting the cleaning schedule based on specific circumstances is key.”

Ways To Clean White Walls

We collected expert tips for cleaning white walls. Remember to spot-test a cleaning technique or product in an inconspicuous place before you start on the whole wall.

Dust and wash with a microfiber towel

Dirt and dust can dull your beautiful white walls. Microfiber towels trap more dust, making cleaning any color wall a breeze.

“The first step is to remove superficial dust and lint,” says Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids. “You can use a dry microfiber towel. That is enough for most cases. If the wall is still dirty, slightly dampen the microfiber towel with cold water and wipe in a circular motion.”

Use a wall mop

If you’ve got tall walls with hard-to-reach places, try a wall mop like the Chomp wall cleaner. Lauren Doss, owner of Nashville Maids, takes over from here.

“First, fill the mop bucket with warm water and mild dish soap,” Doss says. “Use a tablespoon of dish liquid per gallon of water. Dip the wall mop in the solution and wring out any excess water so it is just damp enough not to cause dripping.

“Begin by scrubbing the walls from top to bottom using circular motions. After scrubbing, use the wall mop to rinse away any remaining soap residue and dry with a clean cloth.”

Tackle tough spots with magic erasers

Use a magic eraser to remove tough stains and smudges.

Magic erasers are a common solution for white walls, but make sure you don’t use them too often,” Varela says. “After all, magic erasers are abrasive, and they dull the sheen and can slowly remove your wall’s paint. Always test in a hidden area first.

“If you don’t have a magic eraser, use a standard school [pencil] eraser. Just make sure you rub it very lightly in a soft circular motion.”

Spray walls with a gentle dish soap cleaning solution

Mix two teaspoons of gentle dish liquid with water into a 16-ounce spray bottle. Shake well before using. Toner says you can spray the mixture directly onto the walls and use a clean cloth or sponge to gently scrub away any dirt or stains.

“Using a spray bottle is a fantastic option for cleaning walls of any color,” she says. “It allows you to work efficiently and effectively, especially when you have larger wall surfaces to clean. Plus, it helps you avoid using excessive amounts of the solution, as you can control the amount you spray onto the walls.”

Wash away dirt with an all-purpose cleaner

“I’m a big fan of all-purpose cleaners, especially environmentally friendly ones like Seventh Generation’s All-Purpose Cleaner,” says Olive Canter, expert cleaner and owner of Centennial Super Maids. “It’s a gentle but effective cleaner that can help freshen up your white walls without harsh chemicals.”

Canter recommends dusting the wall with a microfiber towel first, then spraying a bit of the cleaner onto a soft sponge or cloth and gently scrubbing the wall. Avoid soaking the wall, which will eventually strip the paint. Always use the soft side of the sponge. Then wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any leftover cleaner.

Break out the baking soda

“You can use baking soda to help lift tough stains off the wall surface,” says Doss.

Combine two tablespoons of baking soda with one cup of warm water until a paste forms. Apply this paste to the stained area and let it sit for about five minutes before scrubbing gently in a circular motion with a soft cloth. Rinse away any residue with a damp cloth and dry with a clean cloth.

How To Keep White Walls Clean

Toner says prevention is the key to keeping white walls clean. Here’s how to maintain those pristine white walls:

  • Dust frequently: Give your walls a regular dusting with a soft microfiber cloth or a duster to keep them looking fresh.

  • Tackle spots pronto: Don’t let stains and marks linger. When you spot them, jump into action with a gentle cleaning solution or your trusty magic eraser.

  • Shield high-traffic areas: If certain spots are more prone to scuffs and marks, consider adding removable wallpaper or some stylish chair rail or wainscoting to protect them.

What If You Can’t Remove a Stain From a White Wall?

“If you have a white wall with a troublesome stain that won’t come out even with scrubbing and washing, your best solution is to reprime and repaint over it,” says Julie Fisher of Dutch Boy paint.

She suggests buying a primer suited for that stain. A water-based multi-purpose primer is good for most stains, she says, though some may require an oil-based one. “Regardless of the primer, using a high-quality top coat is always recommended, especially in high-traffic areas where stains can occur,” Fisher says.

If you don’t have any of the old paint to get a perfect color match, find an inconspicuous spot and loosen a chip of the paint with a scraper or putty knife. Be careful not to gouge the wall. Then take it to a paint store.

If that’s not feasible, bring home a bunch of paint color samples and keep trying until you find a good match. To be safe, paint the whole wall instead of just the stained area so a slight color difference is less noticeable. The paint pros can recommend the right primer and paint for the type of stain on your wall.