How to Clean Non-Washable Paint Walls

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Things You'll Need

  • Duster or vacuum cleaner

  • Dirt eraser sponge

  • Two buckets

  • Cleaning solution or vinegar

  • Rags


Wallpaper remover solution effectively cleans many types of adhesives or oily deposits from non-washable walls.

If the water in either your cleaning or rinsing bucket starts turning milky white while cleaning, you are probably washing the paint from the walls, which means they can't be cleaned with water.

Non-washable painted walls will not withstand multiple cleanings and may have to be repainted. Don't skimp on paint quality; paint stores sell some durable, washable paints that will hold up to years of washing, but expect to pay more than you would for the budget-priced paint typically sold at home improvement stores.


Do not use any colored cleaners, such as blue-tinted glass cleaner, on flat non-washable painted walls. The color can stain the paint, leaving a faint blue blur.

Avoid using solvent-based cleaners on non-washable walls. They can also penetrate the paint, leaving permanent marks.

Only use cold water for cleaning painted walls. Hot water will soften, dull or even remove paint.

Non-washable painted walls can be cleaned if you're careful.

Non-washable painted walls are usually paint with flat paint or the dreaded "builder paint" in new homes, which will often wash right off the wall with even a mild cleaning. Low quality satin or semigloss paint may also be permanently streaked by cleaning attempts. While there's no way to clean deep stains and heavy grime from non-washable painted walls without ruining the surface, there are ways to minimize the damage; and if you're careful, you should be able to clean small scuffs and marks without leaving any evidence.

Step 1

Dust or vacuum the wall first, even if it doesn't look dusty. Cleaning will rub even invisible dust into the porous painted surface, leaving a dirty-looking mark.

Step 2

Rub scuff marks and small blemishes gently with a dry dirt eraser sponge designed to remove stains and marks from painted surfaces without the use of water.

Step 3

Mix a mild cleansing solution in a clean bucket, such as one part white vinegar to three parts cool water, or 2 tbsp. Borax to a gallon of water. Fill another bucket with clean cool water for rinsing.

Step 4

Clean the wall using the cleaning solution and a clean rag or sponge. Start at the bottom and work up to the ceiling working in approximately 3-foot wide sections. Use very light pressure while cleaning.

Step 5

Squeeze excess water from the rag in your rinsing bucket and rinse each section as you go, working from the ceiling to the bottom of the wall.


Stevie Donald

Stevie Donald has been an online writer since 2004, producing articles for numerous websites and magazines. Her writing chops include three books on dog care and training, one of which won a prestigious national award in 2003. Donald has also been a painting contractor since 1979, painting interiors and exteriors.