It’s easy for anyone to miss a spot while tidying up the house, but even the most diligent deep-cleaners can be clueless when it comes to how to clean walls. Established New York City interior designers and architects who need help sprucing up just-renovated homes look to high-end cleaning service New York’s Little Elves to meet their lofty expectations and get the space clean from top to bottom. After 35 years in the business, managing director and vice president Sabrina Fierman is an expert on making luxury properties sparkle, and her staff knows that walls should never be an afterthought. We enlisted Fierman to help identify the best ways to get rid of pesky marks and buildup—without damaging wallpaper or a decorative paint job. “It can be a delicate process, and what you use is dependent on what the wall treatment can hold up to and resist,” Fierman says. Luckily, you don’t need special supplies or expensive equipment to get the job done—just a few household items you already have and a little bit of time. Read on to learn how to clean walls.
Liquid hand or dishwashing soap
Soft cloths or rags
Steer clear of anything abrasive or ammonia-based and start with simple products. These basic supplies are mild enough to use on most wall treatments while still getting the job done. People with kids, however, may also want to keep a stain removal pen on hand for art projects gone awry.
Lay towels along the base of the walls to protect floors and collect any drips.
Fill one bucket with water and mix liquid hand or dishwashing soap and water in the other. Soak a cloth in the solution, and wring it out well.
Starting at the top of the wall and working your way down, go over the surface in a light, circular motion. Apply as little moisture as possible to avoid bubbling or watermarks.
Soak a cloth in clean water, and wring it out well. Wipe the wall with the cloth to rinse.
Dry off the surface with another cloth.
Safety Tip: Make sure to turn off the power before cleaning outlet covers and light switches.
How to Clean Walls with Wallpaper
Wrap a dry mop head or soft brush vacuum attachment in a clean rag, which will allow you to dry-clean the wallpaper without fear of scratches or dents.
Test the technique over an inconspicuous area to make sure the mop head or rag-covered vacuum attachment doesn't damage the surface.
If your wallpaper holds up, run the tool over your walls gently.
If your wallpaper requires more than a light cleaning, consult the manufacturer's instructions to find out the best way to remove dirt or stains.
Keep Your Walls Clean
But how to avoid scuff marks and dust in the first place? Fierman says giving your walls some routine love is the best way to “keep accumulation of dirt to a minimum.” Regularly clean high-traffic areas, focusing on problem spots like light switches and doorknobs. “With children and pets, everything gets ramped up—you just have to be a little more vigilant,” she says. Forward thinkers might even consider choosing durable wall treatments with maintenance in mind.
This article originally appeared on AD Clever.