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Will Washing My Painted Walls Ruin Them?

woman washing wall with bucket and sponge

This is a question that every homeowner ponders — especially if there are smokers, pets, or young children in the house. It’s just a fact of life: Walls get dirty. Dirt needs washing. If you’re like many others, your house’s walls are painted. So, will washing your painted walls damage the paint or otherwise look unsightly? The straight answer is it could. However, it all depends on what kind of paint is on your walls, what solutions you use to clean them, and how dirty they are in the first place.

What Kind of Paint Is on My Walls?

Before you gear up to wash your walls, look at what kind of paint is on them. Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to look at the sheen— a qualifier that identifies how shiny or flat the paint is. Generally, the shinier the paint, the easier it is to clean. The flatter or more matte, the trickier clean-up may become.

The paint in your bathroom or kitchen is most likely satin or eggshell; finishes that fall right in the middle of the glossiness spectrum. They are usually utilized in high-traffic areas. The gloss in the finish hardens and appears shiny, akin to “closing the pores” of your walls. It keeps the paint from absorbing all of the everyday dust, grease, and grime.

Walls in the bedrooms and potentially the living room may be painted with matte or flat paint. There’s no getting around it — flat paints are among the toughest to clean.

What Cleaner Should I Use?

It probably feels natural to reach for the bottle pine-scented heavy-duty cleaner when you want to wash painted walls — but beware! No matter what kind of paint you’re dealing with, washing it is a gentle endeavor, not a hard-scrubbing task. Here are a few tips when it comes to cleaning:

Use a soft sponge, warm water, mild dish soap or white vinegar, and some baking soda for the tough spots. Refrain from using a scrubby or steel wool, or any textured scrubber for that matter.

When you’re cleaning a semi- or high-gloss paint, add a few drops of dish soap to your water. The doors, baseboards, and other trim should clear up quickly and be restored with little effort.

For walls with eggshell or satin finish, add a few drops of dish soap to your water or go with two-to-three tablespoons of white vinegar instead. The trick to preserving your paint is to wring out your sponge well. Don’t be shy — wring it out until it’s practically dry! You’ll have better luck getting the wall clean and leaving the paint behind. While these finishes are durable, they are still prone to scratching. Using a sponge is your best course of action when it comes to preserving them.

Flat and Matte Paint

Start with your vacuum cleaner and a brush attachment to eliminate dust and loose dirt. Dip your sponge into your water with a bit of gentle soap. Don’t use harsh chemicals or any type of abrasive solution — your paint won’t be able to take it. Gently rub the wall with your sponge. Next, take a dry, lint-free cloth and dab it dry. If the wall is still dirty, you can try to gently clean it a second time. The second time around will be even harder on the surface than the first, so a tender touch is key.

Whether you’re looking to touch up your walls or are interested in professional interior painting or commercial painting services for your property in South Jersey or Philadelphia, contact Padlo’s Perfect Painting today!

Bonnie F. in Cherry Hill, NJ

Great guys to deal with. They are clean, efficient, and I would recommend them anytime.

Mark P. in Moorestown, NJ

Matt and Team Padlo are professionals who excel at their craft and provide a great experience. My ROI is seen immediately with the finished product. A significant value add with this project of completing a 23 x 20 rec room for my kids. I've already requested Matt to complete my next painting project. I highly recommend Matt and his team. Thank you.

Adrienne V. in Philadelphia, PA

My husband and I moved into a new construction ( read: all walls were builders white ) home and didn't paint anything for over a year. Once finding out we were pregnant we decided it was time to paint everything while having painting our nursery. We were at a paint store looking at samples and grabbed a bunch of business cards and called every one. Matt Padlo called us back within the hour, came to our house, took measurements and gave us a quote all in the same day. As a matter of fact we hired Padlos Perfect Painting and they started work BEFORE most of the others returned our call. Matt also had a designer come do a walk through ( at no additional cost ) which ended up being a huge help, we ended up picking three different shades of gray, and adding some accent walls, and painting our babys closet a gorgeous tangerine orange which we absolutely love. Matt and his team were polite and professional while keeping our house clean and furniture protected. They were quick and did amazing work. I can't recommend them enough!

Yolanda B. in Mount Holly, NJ

I love the job they did in my living room and kitchen! Very professional and great customer service!

Phyllis G. in Manahawkin NJ

Professional helpful pleasant preparation great moved all furniture and replaced when finished to my liking. Worked with his team and overseen everything. Love his work and would recommend and hire again.