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How often should you wash your walls?

Walls like virtually every surface in our homes can accumulate dust, however, we often neglect them when following our regular cleaning routine. Whether it’s pollen, dust, cobwebs, or crayon, washing your walls should be integrated as a regular part of your deep cleaning routine. Built-up dust and dirt can exasperate allergies, and invite more unwanted 8-legged house guests. But just how often should you clean your walls? You’ll be relieved to find out it doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence, but it’s probably more common than your think. Get ready to throw on your rubber gloves and grab a broom! 

Hand cleaning blue wall with yellow rubber gloves

Why you should wash your walls

Walls, though they completely surround us, can be something we forget about when it comes to cleaning. Because of this neglect walls and corners can collect dust, pollen in the spring and summer, and of course cobwebs, which only collect even more dust. Not only that, but they can also at times act as coloring books for little ones. If your home has wainscoting or molding, this can also be an area where dust collects. 

While dust doesn’t pose a serious health problem to most, it can be more of an issue for allergy sufferers. Most dust contains dust mites, which “are one of the major indoor triggers for people with allergies and asthma”[1]. Extended exposure to dust in the home can negatively impact the health of asthma and allergy sufferers. Particularly in the summer and spring, pollen can come into the home through the windows and cling to the walls, causing allergic reactions in those with pollen allergies. Walls, aside from dust and pollen also house high-touch areas, like light switches, and thermostats. These high-touch areas can become a breeding ground for bacteria and can be spread throughout the rest of the home and to your family. 

Hand wearing yellow rubber glove cleaning crayon off white wall

How often you should wash your walls

Certain factors can affect how often you should wash your walls. Some of these factors include whether or not you have pets, how many people live in the house, and if there are children in the home. Pet dander can contribute greatly to household dust, and children can make messes on the walls, especially if they get ahold of a crayon or marker. The number of household members can also contribute to the amount of dust since dust is predominantly made up of dead skin cells. This also means more people coming in contact with high-touch areas like light switches, which also need regular cleaning. 

Clean right away

So how often should you clean your walls? A good rule of thumb is to always clean the big messes as they occur. This means immediately wiping up food spills as they happen, or whatever else might get on the walls. Cleaning up food mess right away before it has an opportunity to dry to the wall will make cleaning a thousand times easier. 

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Clean once a month

You’ll be relieved to hear that your walls don’t require even weekly cleaning. Instead, simply dust your walls with extra focus on corners and molding at least once a month. You can use a long handle broom, a clean dry mop, or a long handle duster[2] to get into hard-to-reach places. You can also use a vacuum attachment to get into the tight corners and clear cobwebs. Before you dust your walls, first vacuum or sweep your floors. This will prevent dust from being kicked up onto the walls after you’ve already cleaned them. 

Clean twice a year

You should do a deep clean of your walls seasonally or twice a year. Add this to your list of chores during your Spring Cleaning or Fall Cleaning marathon. You can deep clean your walls by first dusting your walls and corners with a broom, duster, or dry mop like you would in the monthly cleaning regimen. For walls with “enameled semi-gloss or gloss”[2] paint, after the visible dust and cobwebs are removed, you can wash your walls with warm soapy water and a cloth towel, or a soft sponge. For rooms with flat paint, you can simply use a cloth or soft sponge dampened with only clean water[2].

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What you will need to wash your walls

The items you need to clean your walls are not super special, and you likely already have them in your home. Though it can be hard to reach in high corners, you can use a number of tools to make it easier. You luckily won’t need to invest in any specialty cleaning items but depending on the height of your walls, perhaps a step stool or small ladder. 

  1. Long-handled broom or duster: You will need a long-handled broom or long-handled duster to properly dust your walls. You can also use a dry and clean mop. This will help you remove any dust and cobwebs from your walls before you move on to deep cleaning. 
  2. Cloth towels or rags: You can use a tea towel, cloth rag, or microfibre towel with hot soapy water, or just plain water depending on the type of paint on your walls. Just a bit of elbow grease will be sure to make your walls sparkle.
  3. Soft sponge: If you would rather use a soft sponge than a cloth towel, no problem! You can use a soft sponge with soapy water or plain water to clean your walls. Just make sure to never use an abrasive sponge, as this can damage the paint on your walls. 
  4. Dish soap: All you need for cleaning products is plain old water, and dish soap. If you have enamel or gloss paint walls, use this combo to remove dirt and grease from your walls. 
  5. Disinfecting cleaning product: While your walls just need plain water or dish soap for a good clean, high-touch areas like light switches, and thermostats require a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria. You can use a disinfecting cleaning spray and a cloth towel to wipe away fingerprints and germs before they spread to the rest of the home. 

How to prevent dirty walls

There are a number of ways you can prevent dust and grime from collecting on your walls. You can easily integrate these tips into your daily life. This will save you time on deep cleaning in the long run.

  1. Removing your shoes when entering the home: Our shoes track in dirt into the home, whether you can see it or not. This dirt and dust of course accumulate on our floors but can collect on the walls as well as we move through the home. By removing your shoes at your front door or in the mudroom, you prevent that dirt from tracking farther into the home.
  2. Sweeping or vacuuming regularly: Sweeping and vacuuming regularly will reduce the amount of dust in the home in general, therefore lessening the build-up on the walls. Whenever you sweep a room, make sure to include the edge of the wall trim. Dust can build up on these ledges and become harder to clean if left alone. Giving your wall trim a good sweep every once in a while will keep you from having to do a deep scrub once the dust gets out of hand.
  3. Dust surfaces regularly: Keeping dust off the walls means keeping dust off of other surfaces too. With a dry towel or a duster, regularly dust surfaces in the home. This could be tables, shelves, wainscotting, other wall moldings, or fans and light fixtures. Dust can spread from these surfaces to hard-to-reach wall corners, and vice versa, so it’s best to keep the rest of your home dust-free as well.
  4. Clean wall messes as they happen: Stuck on food on walls and backsplash is a pain to remove. It can involve some serious elbow grease. To save yourself the effort, clean up messes as they appear. Did your pasta sauce splatter onto the kitchen wall? Wipe it up right away with a wet washcloth, and save yourself from staining the wall, or accidentally scrubbing and damaging your paint job.

Cleaning your walls may seem a daunting task, but luckily it doesn’t have to be done too often. By maintaining other chores, like dusting surfaces regularly, remembering to remove your shoes before entering the home, and sweeping and vacuuming often, you can lessen the seemingly gargantuan task of cleaning your walls. By keeping your walls and high-touch areas clean, you prevent irritating dust and allergens in the home, as well as kill harmful bacteria before it has a chance to spread further. Make sure to add dusting your walls to your monthly cleaning list, and washing your walls to your seasonal cleaning list. Your home will feel brighter, cleaner, and fresher because of it.


Article Sources:

  1. American Lung Association. “Dust and Dust Mites
  2. SFGATE. “How Often Should You Clean Walls and Corners?