hand cleaning white wall

How To Clean Walls Before Painting

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Learn how to clean walls before painting your next interior paint project.

Completing the proper cleaning and prep work on your walls will help ensure your next paint project is a success. The proper cleaning and prep steps include sanding, cleaning, and priming. Cleaning your walls before you paint is a cumbersome task, but having a clean, dry wall before adding a new coat of paint can prevent all sorts of cosmetic and even health issues down the road.

Why is it important to clean walls before painting?

Before you start your paint project, it’s important to clean and prep your walls. It can be tempting to skip this step, but you’ll regret it later if you do. Properly cleaning your walls before painting will help ensure that all dirt and grease is removed from the surfaces, any peeling or chipping old paint is removed, and the surface is primed for paint. These steps will make your painting easier, help get better coverage of your paint, and improve the appearance of walls. (Not up to the task? Don’t worry – when you hire On The Spot Painting our team of paint professionals takes care of everything from prep to cleanup!).

Does every wall need to be cleaned before painting?

We definitely recommend that you give every wall you are planning on painting a good cleaning. Grimy walls, like the ones in your kitchen or bathroom, that are exposed to grease, sprays, or dirty hands are always a must. Even walls in high traffic areas like hallways or living rooms can benefit from a good cleaning before you get ready to paint.

Follow our step-by-step guide to cleaning your walls before you paint for the best way to get ready for your next paint project.

What you’ll need to prep and clean walls for paint:

Before we get started in walking you through the steps to clean and prep your walls for paint, you’ll need the following items:

  • Sandpaper
  • Paint scraper/Putty knife/Razor blades
  • 2-Gallon pail
  • Bucket
  • Warm Water
  • Sponges
  • Mild soap
  • Fans
  • Primer
  • Vacuum
  • Painter’s tape
  • Plastic film

We also recommend that you move any furniture out of the way before you get to cleaning your walls. You may want to lay down a plastic sheet or painter’s cloth prior to getting started.

Step 1: Lightly Sand Your Walls

Best way to clean your walls before painting

Lightly sand the walls you will be painting to remove any loose or chipping paint and any other uneven areas on the existing painted walls. Use a razor blade to scrape any tape or adhesive that may be on the painted walls.

If there are any holes that need to be patched, complete this during Step 1.

Make sure to give the space a good sweep or vacuum to remove any dirt from the sanding.

Step 2: Wash Walls

Best way to clean your walls before painting

Best way to clean your walls before painting

Fill your 2 gallon bucket half full with warm water. Add a teaspoon of mild dish soap to the warm water. Dip your sponge into the water and squeeze out the water leaving you with a damp, but not too wet sponge.

Use the sponge to wash walls and make sure to rinse it frequently to ensure you aren’t spreading around any of the dirt or grease that may have been on the walls. Remember not to use a sponge that is too wet. We want to avoid water from running down the walls or exposing the wall to too much water.

Step 3: Wipe Away Any Soap Residue

Best way to clean your walls before painting

It’s important to ensure that we aren’t leaving any dirt or soap residue on the walls from the water. After you’ve given the walls an initial rub down, empty the bucket of dirty water, and refill with warm water. Give everything one more quick wipe with a new clean sponge.

Step 4: Allow the Walls to Dry Completely

Best way to clean your walls before painting

Before we move on to applying the primer to the wall, we want to ensure the washed walls have dried completely.

Trapped moisture can prevent paint from adhering and setting as well as can increase the possibility for mold growth. Set up some fans to keep the air moving and help speed up the drying process.

You may want to allow the walls to dry overnight.

Step 5: Prime Your Walls

Best way to clean your walls before painting

We always recommend applying a coat of primer to the walls, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, or anywhere that there may have been smoke in the air. This step will help ensure that the paint gets the most coverage, disguise imperfections, create a smooth surface for your paint to lock onto, and ensure a uniform finish no matter what you’re painting.

Not sure what paint primer to use? We recommend Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams.

Once your walls are primed, you’re ready for paint!

Once your walls have been prepped, washed, dried, and primed, you are ready to start painting! Need some help to get your space prepped for paint? Contact our team of professionals to help you get everything ready for your next paint project. We specialize in all Interior Painting projects and take care of prep, painting, and cleanup.

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