How to clean white walls: 7 Tips for when wiping won’t work

White walls are timeless and elegant… Unless they’re dirty! If you’re wondering how to clean white walls when there’s a stubborn mark that a cloth can’t clean, try these 5 tips.

General cleaning tips: What to do before cleaning

Before trying to tackle tough stains and dirty walls, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind so that your paint doesn’t get ruined. Here are some general cleaning tips for before you start cleaning the walls:

  1. Dust the walls first: Use a soft dusting brush or a clean cloth to remove any loose dust or cobwebs from the walls and vacuum around the baseboards.
  2. Do a spot test on a small area: Before cleaning the entire wall, test a small, inconspicuous area with the cleaning solution you plan to use. This will help you ensure that the cleaning solution and cleaning materials won’t damage the paint.
  3. Wipe in gentle circle motions, working from top to bottom: When cleaning walls, start at the top and work your way down. Wipe clean in gentle circular motions to clean white walls without damaging paint.
  4. Remove wall hangings and move furniture away from the walls to prevent breaking or damaging them!

With that, let’s get to our 7 tips for cleaning tough stains from white walls!

Before you start: Know the paint finish

Do you have flat-painted walls, a semi-gloss paint sheen, or high-gloss? If you have a flat finish, you will want to avoid any harsh chemicals or cleaning products as it will damage the paint. Opt for warm water and dish soap first and be sure to spot-test anything else.

For paint sheen with more gloss, be extra careful not to scuff the finish or do any harsh scrubbing as it can ruin the surface.

Tip # 01: Start with soapy water

It’s ideal to start with a basic cleaning product before using harsh chemicals. While soap and water may not stand up to tough wall stains, you’d be surprised how much this basic solution and a little elbow grease can accomplish! This can even work to remove grease stains or crayon marks.

To clean with soap and plain water:

  1. Fill a bucket with a gallon of warm water. Fill a second and add clear liquid dish soap.
  2. Grab a soft sponge or cloth, soak it in the dish soap and water mixture, and wash your walls.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth. Soak it in the first bucket and use the damp cloth to wipe the walls clean.
  4. Wipe off any excess water with a fresh towel.

Be sure to use a non-abrasive sponge when washing white walls.

Supplies for making all purpose cleaner including lemon and orange rinds, essential oil, and vinegar.

Tip # 02: Try an all-purpose cleaner

Before you bring out the heavy-duty cleaners, try to remove stains and wipe messes off of your white wall by washing it with a cloth or soft sponge and all-purpose cleaner.

Whether they’re coated in flat, satin, eggshell, gloss, semi-gloss oil-based or latex paint, using a non-abrasive cleaner is the best way to clean painted walls. Keep walls clean and free of dust, fingerprints, stains and smudges with Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.

Simple Green

Learn how to make your own all-purpose cleaner here!

Tip # 03: Use a Magic Eraser

One of the best ways to clean white walls is to use a magic eraser. These sponges are specifically designed to remove tough stains and dirt from surfaces. All you need to do is add water to the sponge and then gently rub it on the stained area. The Magic Eraser will do all the work for you!

Just be careful not to scrub too hard – You don’t want to wreck the paint.

You can purchase a magic eraser from Amazon.

Tip #04: Use vinegar and water

You might have used vinegar and water to clean other areas of your home, but did you know that you can also use this solution to clean white walls?

Simply mix together 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray the walls and let sit for a few minutes before wiping it clean.

If you don’t have a bottle, create the mixture in a bowl and use a sponge to apply the solution. Gently scrub the wall before patting dry with a clean and dry cloth.

Note that vinegar has a strong smell that can linger, so make sure to ventilate the room while cleaning white walls and for some time afterward. Also, do not use it on marble or other natural stones, as it can etch the surface.

A jar of baking soda pictured next to a wooden spoon.

Tip #05: Use baking soda

Baking soda is a natural cleaning agent and it will help to remove any tough stains from your walls. Simply mix equal parts of baking soda and water together to form a paste. Apply the paste to the stained area and scrub gently until the stain is gone.

You can purchase baking soda from Amazon.

Tip #06: Use hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean stubborn stains from white walls, but it’s important to be cautious as it can potentially bleach or damage the paint if not used correctly.

Here are some tips to use hydrogen peroxide to clean white walls safely:

  1. Test a small area: Before washing the entire wall, test a small, inconspicuous area with hydrogen peroxide to ensure that it doesn’t damage the paint or cause discoloration.
  2. Dilute the solution: Dilute the hydrogen peroxide with water in a 1:1 ratio. This will make it safer to use on your walls.

How to use hydrogen peroxide?

To clean with hydrogen peroxide, mix hydrogen peroxide and water in a 1:1 ratio. Then, apply hydrogen peroxide to the stained area and scrub until the stain is gone. You may need to apply hydrogen peroxide a few times to remove tough stains. Finally, rinse and dry the spot that you’ve cleaned.

A bottle of bleach being poured.

Tip #07: Use bleach or Comet

Bleach is a common household product that can be used to clean white walls and Comet is a bleach powder. They’re similar, but the application is a bit different.

And, it’s important to note that bleach or Comet can be used to clean white walls, but it’s important to be careful as these products can be harsh and potentially damage the paint if not used correctly. To avoid leaving marks on the walls, it’s also important to rinse and dry after you wash.zx

Here are some steps to follow when using bleach or Comet to clean white walls:

Using bleach
  1. Protect yourself: Wear gloves and protective eyewear when working with bleach to avoid skin or eye irritation.
  2. Dilute the solution: Mix one part bleach with three parts water to make a diluted bleach solution.
  3. Apply the solution: Use a clean sponge or cloth to apply the solution to the walls. Gently clean the surface in circular motions, working your way down the wall.
  4. Rinse and dry: After washing the walls, rinse the surface with clean water and dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Ventilate the room: Make sure to open windows or use a fan to ventilate the room, as bleach can have a strong odor and fumes.
Using Comet
  1. Wet the wall: Wet the wall with water using a sponge or cloth.
  2. Apply Comet: Sprinkle Comet on a damp sponge or cloth and gently scrub the surface in circular motions, working your way down the wall.
  3. Rinse and dry

*Remember: Never, ever mix bleach with vinegar or other household cleaners!!

Vinegar isn’t the only cleaner you need to be careful mixing with bleach. Bleach also reacts with ammonia to create chlorine gas. Bleach can also react to some oven cleaners, insecticides, and hydrogen peroxide.

A woman cleaning a white wall with a sponge and yellow glove on in post how to clean white walls.

How often should you clean a white wall?

Now you have read how to clean white walls but how often you should clean them? Ideally, you should clean your white walls at least twice a year according to experts in the painting and cleaning industry. Keep in mind, if you have kids or pets you may need to do more frequent washing.

How to care for your white walls?

Regular washing of your white wall is a great way to preserve your white paint job while making your space look clean and fresh. Depending on the mess, you will need to choose the appropriate cleaning method. Start by removing dust and dirt by dusting or vacuuming the walls.

The best way to clean dirty white walls without scuffing or removing paint is to start with a basic cleaner or dish soap and water. If you need to remove stains or caked-on dirt, try using vinegar and water or mix baking soda and water to create a paste that you can rub on the stain.

For trickier messes, you may need to get out a magic eraser, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach to wash. Make sure to never mix bleach with other products, though.

After washing your white walls, be sure to wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth. Finish by wiping any excess water.

Here’s a video on how to clean your walls by Home Depot

Frequently asked questions about how to clean white walls

How do you clean white walls without stripping paint?

Clean dirt and other grime by using mild dish detergent and warm water. Only use non-abrasive sponges and cloths and do not put too much pressure while scrubbing. For tougher stains, try using baking soda, a magic eraser, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach.

How do you clean white walls fast?

Regular cleaning will help prevent dirt buildup and make cleaning easier. In addition, clean a stain right when it happens.

Can Magic Eraser clean walls?

A Magic Eraser is great for fixing tough stains, or scuffs in your space, especially on white walls.


For more ways to keep your space organized, clean, and attractive, read some of the articles below:

All things cleaning

Whether you’re looking for general cleaning tips or specific advice like how to clean a sheepskin rug, this category has it covered.


How to Clean Walls With Paint or Wallpaper Like a Pro, by the Architectural Digest

How to Clean Painted Walls, by Simple Green

Why You Should Not Mix Bleach and Vinegar While Cleaning, by Healthline

Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations from UBC (Okanagan) and her Master of Teaching from the University of Toronto. She is an elementary educator with a passion for outdoor learning.

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