What to Use to Wash Walls Before Painting

a paint roller painting bright yellow diagonally on a white wall

Washing the walls before painting is the one piece of advice that is frequently overlooked by DIYers. Sometimes, even regular and professional DIYers are tempted to ignore this step when the walls seem to be clean and in good shape, and many of them do not care about cleaning up, instead, they choose just to paint over the walls.

Furthermore, the immediate consequences of skipping the cleaning step are not always immediately visible. Sometimes a paint job will last for years without needing to be touched up, which leave you wondering why nearly all paint manufacturers insist that washing the walls is an essential part of the painting process.

Washing the walls prior to painting will help you get your painting project off to a good start. Keep on reading this article and it will guide you on how and what to use to wash walls before painting.

Is It Necessary to Wash Walls Before Painting

In general, it is not always mandatory to wash walls before painting when you are painting the walls yourself. There are few requirements that the wall surface should meet to skip the process of washing the walls before painting. Following are the requirements:

  • There is no dust present.
  • There are no pets in the house.
  • There is no cooking or bathing in the room.
  • There is little or no contact of hands with walls.
  • There are no grease or other stains present on the walls.

Steps to Wash Wall Before Painting

A pink gloved hand washing a light green wall with a blue rag

The wall can be prepared for painting by washing using various products. Among them, washing walls with soap and water is the most frequently used method due to its suitability for all types of wall textures. Simply follow the steps below to thoroughly clean the walls with soap and water.

Step 1 – Clear the wall

Begin by removing the hardware stuck in the wall and scrape off any type of tape or adhesive with the help of a razor blade. Remove all the furniture to clear the working space and cover it with a sheet of thin plastic film to protect it from dust and paint. You can also use a vacuum to remove all the dust, cobwebs from the walls and other hard to reach places.

Step 2 – Wash the Wall

Now fill a 2-gallon bucket halfway with warm water and add a drop of mild, nonabrasive soap or any mild detergent as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, to make a cleaning solution. Take a large sponge and dip it in soapy water. Now squeeze off the extra water just enough to keep the sponge damp but not wet.

Think of it just like preparing a sponge to wipe fingerprints off the refrigerator rather than soaking it like you would for vehicle cleaning.

Use the sponge to wipe down the wall, washing and wringing it out after each swipe. While cleaning, avoid scrubbing excessively, exposing the wall to excessive moisture, and letting the water from the sponge flow down th wall. When these kinds of conditions are present, they can cause greater damage and will require you to pay a lot more.

Step 3 – Wipe Away the Soap

Empty the used and dirty water from the bucket. Again fill the bucket halfway with fresh, warm water after rinsing it out. Clean the sponge in the sink, then wipe the wall softly with it to remove any soap residue.

Step 4 – Dry Thoroughly

Allow the wall to dry completely before proceeding with the repair and priming. Keeping moisture trapped in the wall hinders paint from setting and increases the likelihood of mould growth. Switch on the fans to keep the air moving in the room and let it dry for at least a day.

Once the wall is dry, you are ready to start painting the huge blank canvas as per your wish.

Can I Use Dawn to Wash Walls Before Painting?

Bottles of dawn dish soap on a grocery store shelf.

Yes, you can use Dawn to wash walls before painting. In step two, just replace the mild soap with Dawn dish detergent and you are good to go.

For removing the majority of dirt and smudges from your walls and other surfaces, you only need to use a half-teaspoon of Dawn detergent mixed in one gallon of warm water.

Can You Use Vinegar and Water to Clean Walls Before Painting?

A kettle of water next to a glass bottle of vinegar, sponge, cleaning cloth and glove, on a white counter top.

Absolutely! In place of commercial cleaners, vinegar is an easy and inexpensive alternative that is better for your health.

I’d advise you to spot test any painted walls before using vinegar for cleaning, especially if you aren’t planning on painting over them.

You should never use vinegar on your paint’s finish, but always do a preliminary test in an inconspicuous area.

To clean the walls with vinegar, in step 2, mix water and vinegar in equal parts. Continue with the remaining steps and your job will be done in no time.

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