Cleaning walls: Your decorator speaks…


Maybe it’s genetic, but with the first rays of sun and green shoots starting to peek through, even your humble decorator is starting to think of spring-cleaning.

I thought some tips on handling paintwork might not be amiss.

You most likely have some form of emulsion paint on your walls. If we did the painting, it will almost certainly be washable – within limits. Most professional decorators would use similar products.

As with any cleaning, the first thing to do is dust thoroughly. Feather dusters have their place but they have a habit of just re-arranging the dust. A vacuum cleaner is better, obviously avoiding any rough contact with the paintwork.

With that done, I recommend a soft cloth and sugar soap solution. The cloth should be damp, but not so wet that water runs down the wall. Heavy scrubbing should be avoided. Work from the top down.

The best advice is always to test an inconspicuous area first, and let it dry. If paint is coming off onto your cloth, then you have a non-washable paint and can only proceed with an extremely light touch.

Removing scuffs and marks is best done with the same sugar soap or a mild detergent and a microfibre cloth, rubbing a little harder but with care. If the marks aren’t coming off fairly easily, then it’s better to try some other form of solvent, appropriate to the mark.

Some of the better solutions I’ve found are:
Scuff marks from rubber-soled shoes: a common school eraser often works. If not, try nail polish remover or toothpaste.
Crayon marks: as above, an eraser may do the job. Otherwise baking soda mixed into a paste with water
Ink marks from book covers: as above,
Blu-tak marks: the greasy marks left by blu-tak can be stubborn, but either lighter fluid or dry-cleaning fluid dabbed on with a soft cloth should work
Grease or fat marks: a paste made from baking soda and water, left to dry over the marks and then removed with a damp cloth

Best wishes

Geoff Parvin

PS: Mrs. Parvin wanted to add one additional tip. She says the usual way I handle spring-cleaning is to go out until she’s done it.