Scuff marks. Crayons. Grease splatters. The occasional mystery substance. Our walls seem to attract stains like a white shirt before a job interview. Cleaning them can be tricky, since you want to both bust through the stain and protect the underlying paint. In this post, we share eight common wall stains and describe how to remove them safely.
1. Water Stains
The first step is taking care whatever caused the stains, otherwise they’ll keep returning (and the water causes structural damage over time). Next, you need to prevent mildew, so add 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Apply it to the stains and then dry the area thoroughly using a fan or hair dryer.
Unfortunately, if this doesn’t work, you’ll have to repaint. Make sure your contractor knows about the steps you took to remove the water stains.
2. Dirt and Grime Buildup
Unless you employ full-time housecleaners, your walls, cabinets, and doors likely get those mysterious dark stains that just happen to be at hand level. That’s thanks to the oils from your hands (and your family’s hands). Every time you turn a door knob, open a cabinet, etc., your hand leaves behind a bit of oil. Over time, those oils add up. They also attract dust, creating those dark smudges that refuse to wipe away.
You have two options to get rid of these stains. The first is a store-bought wall eraser. They cost a few dollars and all you have to do is wet the sponge before applying it to the stain. Make sure you rub gently to avoid marring the paint.
If you don’t have a wall eraser or just prefer to take the DIY route, you can make your own cleaning solution. All you need is a gallon of warm water mixed with:
- 1 cup ammonia
- 1/2 cup apple cider or white distilled vinegar
- 1/4 cup baking soda
Apply with a soft cloth or sponge and then rinse with clean water. As always, don’t scrub too hard or you’ll remove the paint.
You have a few options to remove crayon markings from your walls, but wall erasers are your best bet. If that doesn’t work, or you’re still in a DIY mood, other options include:
- Baby wipes
- A damp sponge sprinkled with baking soda
- Rub non-gel toothpaste over the marks
- Use an eraser (art gum or pencil), wiping in a circular motion
4. Permanent Marker
If you saw your walls covered in permanent marker, we wouldn’t blame you if you just decided to repaint. Before going with that nuclear option, try one (or both) of the following:
- Dab away stains with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol
- Spray the marks with hairspray, wiping away the drips with a damp cloth
Most ballpoint pen ink has an oil base, which makes shaving cream a good option. You can also try nail polish remover or a dry-cleaning solvent.
To rid your walls of mildew, spray them with a mixture of 1-quart water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. You can also try an “enzyme” laundry detergent; OxiClean is a common brand. The bottle should include directions for pretreating stains. Follow those, then blot it on the stain and rinse with water.
It’s a given that kitchen walls attract grease. In turn, those grease stains seem to pick up all kinds of mystery gunk. The good news is that the same dish soap you use to cut through the grease on your dishes works on your walls. Tougher stains just need a bit of white vinegar.
- Small grease stains: Mix 1/4 teaspoon dish soap into a cup of warm water. Wipe down the wall with the soapy water, rinse it with clean, and blot it dry.
- Tough grease stains: Mix 1/3 cup white vinegar with 2/3 cup warm water. Wipe, rinse, and blot dry.
8. Food Stains
You want to remove food stains as quickly as possible. Cleaning methods depend on the type of food and size of the stain.
- Spot-cleaning: Make a paste using baking soda and water. Rub it over the stain (gently). After it dries, wash the spot with clean water and dry with a soft cloth.
- Small stains: Thoroughly mix 1/4 teaspoon of soap to a cup of warm water. Dip a cloth or sponge into the mixture and wipe away the stain, then rinse with clean water and blot dry.
If the time has come to repaint, call us at 800-776-0750 or complete our contact form to request a free quote.