Home Works: Preserve Your Paint

Wash your walls with this eco-friendly, DIY wall cleaner.

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Our homemade wall wash is a cinch to make.

Photography By Ken Hoyt

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Before electric lighting and clean heat sources, home interiors built up a layer of soot during cold-weather confinement. Back then, washing the walls was a mainstay of spring cleaning. These days, we’re more apt to paint walls than to wash them. But what’s the hurry?  If you’re happy with the color and have a beautiful paint job, you can make your paint last and avoid consuming more paint. After all, even zero-VOC brands require resources to make and transport.

Wall wash 
1 quart warm water
1⁄4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons biodegradable liquid soap
2 soft cloths

1. Remove excess dust from walls using a soft towel wrapped around the head of a broom.
2. Mix ingredients in a clean, nonreactive bucket. Wash walls, beginning from the base and working upward. Working from top to bottom can create streaks.
3. Rinse walls with clear warm water. Use a soft, clean cloth to dry the walls thoroughly (to avoid the possibility of mildew or mold).

Oily stains

Make a paste of 1⁄4 cup baking soda and 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Pat onto the stain with a damp sponge. Let it dry and brush away with a soft dry cloth. Wash as usual.

Surface stress

Flat paint can create a beautiful effect, but it isn’t always the best choice from a cleaning perspective. Semi-gloss, high-gloss and eggshell surfaces are smoother and easier to clean. They are also recommended for rooms with higher humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens.