10 Brilliant Tips to Clean Plaster Walls Like a Pro

10 Brilliant Tips to Clean Plaster Walls Like a Pro


Plaster walls add a timeless charm to any home, but they require special care to maintain their beauty and integrity.

Understanding the nuances of cleaning plaster walls is essential for keeping them looking fresh and new. In this guide, we will share ten expert tips to help you clean your plaster walls effectively and safely, ensuring their longevity and maintaining their appearance.

Discover the best techniques and helpful tips for removing dirt, dust, and stains without causing damage, and learn how to care for and maintain your plaster walls to keep them at their best.

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What are Plaster Walls?

Plaster walls are made from a mixture of lime, sand, and water applied over lath (a framework of wood, metal, or rock lath). This traditional wall covering has been used for centuries, offering durability and a smooth finish. However, their porous nature means they can easily absorb dirt and grime, requiring gentle cleaning methods to avoid damage.

Cleaning Plaster Walls: 10 Expert Tips

Preparing to Clean

  • Ensure the room is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling any dust.
  • Lay down drop cloths or old towels to protect your flooring from drips and spills.

Dusting and Vacuuming

  • Start by gently dusting your walls with a microfiber cloth to remove loose dirt.
  • Use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum to carefully vacuum the surface, especially in corners and near the ceiling.

Spot Cleaning Stains

  • Mix a small amount of mild dish soap with warm water.
  • Dip a soft sponge into the solution, wring it out well, and gently dab at stains. Avoid scrubbing harshly.

Washing the Walls

  • For general cleaning, use a soft cloth or sponge dipped in a mild soap and water solution.
  • Work in sections, washing and then drying with a clean, soft towel to prevent water absorption.

Dealing with Water Stains

  • Mix a solution of one part bleach to four parts water.
  • Apply sparingly to water stains with a sponge, then rinse with a damp cloth and dry immediately.

Removing Grease and Oil Marks

  • Create a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Apply gently to grease spots, let sit for a few minutes, then wipe off with a damp cloth.

Handling Crayon Marks

  • Rub marks gently with a non-gel toothpaste or an art gum eraser.
  • Wipe clean with a damp cloth and dry the area.

Avoiding Harsh Chemicals

  • Stay away from abrasive cleaners and strong chemicals that can damage plaster.
  • Opt for gentle, pH-neutral cleaning solutions.

Regular Maintenance

  • Dust and vacuum walls regularly to prevent buildup.
  • Address spills and marks promptly to avoid permanent staining.

Professional Help for Major Issues

  • For significant damage or persistent stains, consider hiring a professional.
  • Experts can offer specialized cleaning methods and repairs for plaster walls.


Cleaning plaster walls might seem daunting, but with the right techniques and a gentle approach, you can keep them looking pristine. By following these expert tips, you can effectively remove dirt, dust, and stains, ensuring the longevity and beauty of your plaster walls. Regular maintenance and care are key to preserving their charm and character for years to come.

Tip 1: Gather the Right Tools and Materials

Before cleaning plaster walls, it’s crucial to prepare by gathering the appropriate tools and materials. This initial step ensures the cleaning process is effective and safe for your walls.

Essential Tools for Cleaning Plaster Walls

  • Soft-bristled brush: Ideal for gently removing dust and cobwebs without scratching the surface.
  • Vacuum with a brush attachment: Helps in sucking up loose dirt and dust particles, especially from corners and crevices.
  • Bucket: Necessary for mixing cleaning solutions.
  • Sponges: Soft sponges are perfect for applying cleaning solutions without causing abrasions.
  • Clean cloths: Microfiber cloths are excellent for drying walls after cleaning to prevent watermarks.

Necessary Materials

  • Mild detergent: A gentle cleaner that’s effective in removing dirt without damaging the plaster.
  • Warm water: Acts as the base for most cleaning solutions.
  • White vinegar: A natural cleaning agent that’s great for removing stains and disinfecting areas without harsh chemicals.
  • Gentle cleaner specifically designed for plaster walls: These specialized cleaners are formulated to clean effectively without harming the plaster.

Protective Gear

  • Gloves: Protects your hands from drying out due to cleaning agents.
  • Goggles: Essential for keeping your eyes safe from splashes and drips.

Having the correct tools and materials at hand not only makes the cleaning process more efficient but also ensures that your plaster walls are cleaned effectively without damage.

The use of mild cleaning agents, like warm water mixed with a small amount of dish soap, along with gentle tools such as soft sponges and microfiber cloths, can significantly impact the outcome of your cleaning efforts. Moreover, donning gloves and protective eyewear during the process safeguards against potential hazards, making your cleaning routine both safe and effective.

Tip 2: Start with Gentle Light Cleaning Methods

Initiating the cleaning of plaster walls with gentle, light methods is pivotal in maintaining their integrity and appearance. This approach ensures the removal of surface dirt and grime without compromising the plaster’s delicate surface.

Basic Steps for Gentle Cleaning

Preparing the Cleaning Solution

  • Mix a cleaning solution of warm water in a bucket. Warm water alone is often sufficient for lightly soiled walls.

Cleaning the Walls

  • Dampen a soft sponge with the warm water solution. It’s important to wring out the sponge well to avoid saturating the plaster, which can cause damage.
  • Lightly scrub the walls in a circular motion. This gentle technique helps lift dirt and dust without scratching or damaging the plaster surface.

What to Avoid

  • Harsh chemicals and abrasive tools should be avoided to prevent damage. Strong cleaning agents or rough materials can easily mar the plaster.
  • Excessive water can seep into the plaster, leading to potential damage. Always use a well-wrung-out sponge or cloth.

Maintaining Your Plaster Walls

  • Regular dusting and wiping down with a damp sponge or microfiber cloth can significantly reduce the need for heavy cleaning. This routine maintenance helps prevent dirt buildup and preserves the wall’s appearance.
  • Immediate attention to spills and marks helps in avoiding permanent stains. Spot cleaning with a damp cloth can effectively manage most accidents without requiring extensive cleaning efforts.

By starting with light cleaning methods and using just warm water and a soft sponge, you can effectively maintain the cleanliness and appearance of your plaster walls. This gentle approach not only preserves the quality of the plaster but also extends the lifespan of your walls, keeping them looking fresh and clean with minimal effort.

Tip 3: Tackling Common Stains with Homemade Solutions

When it comes to maintaining the pristine appearance of plaster walls, dealing with stains promptly and effectively is key. Homemade cleaning solutions offer a safe and economical approach to tackling common stains without resorting to harsh chemicals.

Removing Grease Stains

  • Baking Soda Paste: A paste made from baking soda and water is excellent for removing grease stains.
  • Mix enough baking soda with water to create a thick paste.
  • Gently apply the paste to the grease stain and let it sit for several minutes.
  • Wipe away with a damp cloth and dry the area thoroughly.

Tackling Water Stains

  • Vinegar Solution: Equal parts of vinegar and water can effectively address water stains.
  • Combine vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • Lightly spray the solution onto the water stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Blot gently with a clean, dry cloth until the stain lifts. Avoid rubbing as it may spread the stain.

Removing Rust Stains

  • Lemon Juice and Salt: This natural combination works well on rust stains.
  • Mix lemon juice with a small amount of salt to create a thick paste.
  • Apply the paste to the rust stain and leave it for a couple of hours.
  • Rinse off with water and gently pat the area dry.

Caution and Care

  • Test First: Always test any homemade solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall to ensure it doesn’t damage the finish or color.
  • Rinse and Dry: After treating stains, it’s important to rinse the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue of the cleaning solution. Then, dry the area thoroughly to prevent moisture damage to the plaster.

Homemade solutions like baking soda paste for grease, vinegar solution for water stains, and a lemon juice-salt mixture for rust offer effective, gentle alternatives to commercial cleaners. By utilizing these DIY remedies, you can keep your plaster walls clean and stain-free while avoiding potential damage from harsh chemicals. Remember, quick action and gentle methods are key to preserving the integrity and beauty of your plaster walls.

Tip 4: Dealing with Stubborn Stains through Spot Treatments

When general cleaning methods don’t quite cut it, spot treatments can remove stubborn stains on plaster walls. The key to effective stain removal is identifying the type of stain and choosing an appropriate treatment method.

Identifying the Stain

  • Know Your Stain: Different stains require different approaches. Oil-based, water-based, and organic stains each respond best to specific cleaning solutions.

Spot Treatment Solutions

For General Stains

  • Mild Detergent or Baking Soda Paste:
  • A mild detergent solution or a paste made from baking soda and water can be effective for a variety of stains.
  • Apply the chosen treatment directly to the stain and gently scrub with a soft-bristled brush or sponge.

For Oil-Based Stains

  • Dish Soap Solution:
  • Mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water.
  • Apply with a sponge to the stain and gently work it in to lift the grease or oil.

For Persistent Stains

  • Commercial Stain Remover:
  • For particularly stubborn stains, a commercial stain remover designed for plaster walls may be necessary.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test on a small area first.

Application Techniques

  • Gentle Scrubbing: Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to work the cleaning solution into the stain carefully. Avoid harsh scrubbing to prevent surface damage.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: After treating the stain, rinse the area with clean water to remove any residual cleaner.
  • Dry Completely: Allow the area to air dry fully. A fan can help speed up the drying process and prevent moisture from lingering.

Testing and Precautions

  • Patch Test: Always conduct a patch test on an inconspicuous area before applying any spot treatment to ensure it won’t damage or discolor the wall.
  • Follow Directions: For commercial cleaners, adhering to the product’s guidelines is crucial for both safety and effectiveness.

By targeting stubborn stains with appropriate spot treatments, you can maintain the beauty and integrity of your plaster walls. Whether using homemade solutions or commercial products, gentle application and thorough rinsing are essential steps in the process. Spot treatments offer a focused approach to stain removal, ensuring that your walls remain in pristine condition.

Tip 5: Special Care for Textured and Venetian Plaster Walls

Textured and Venetian plaster walls add a unique depth and aesthetic to any space, but to maintain their distinctive finishes, they require a special approach when cleaning. The key is to clean gently and preserve the integrity of these surfaces.

Cleaning Textured Plaster Walls

  • Dusting Gently: Use a soft brush or a vacuum with a brush attachment to remove dust and loose debris without scraping the textured surface.
  • Spot Cleaning: For stubborn stains, use a mild detergent solution and a soft cloth. Dab gently instead of rubbing to avoid damaging the texture.
  • Moisture Control: Be cautious with water. Excessive moisture can damage the special finish of textured plaster. Always use a damp cloth and dry the area thoroughly after cleaning.

Maintaining Venetian Plaster Wall

  • Gentle Wiping: A damp microfiber cloth can be used to wipe away stains or marks gently. Avoid applying too much pressure, which might mar the polished finish.
  • Avoiding Abrasives: Never use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers. These can scratch the surface, leaving permanent marks.
  • Protective Measures: After cleaning, applying a protective wax or sealer can help maintain the Venetian plaster’s finish and protect it from future stains and damage.

General Tips for Both Wall Types

  • Test First: Always test any cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the finish.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Stick to mild detergents and avoid any product that could potentially harm the delicate surface.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regular dusting and gentle cleaning can prevent the buildup of dirt and make more in-depth cleaning sessions less frequent and easier.

Extra Care for Unique Textures

The goal for both textured and Venetian plaster walls is to maintain the original beauty and integrity of the surface. These special wall finishes demand attention to detail and a gentle hand during cleaning. Using soft tools and mild cleaners and avoiding harsh scrubbing will ensure these walls remain a stunning feature in your home. By respecting the unique properties of textured and Venetian plaster, you can keep them looking their best for years to come.

An indoor scene showcasing a freshly cleaned plaster wall, emphasizing the smooth, flawless finish of the surface. The room is well-lit, highlighting the cleanliness and readiness of the walls for painting or decoration. Include visible elements of the room that suggest a domestic interior, such as a window, a corner of a simple piece of furniture, and cleaning tools like a cloth and a spray bottle set aside, suggesting the cleaning task has just been completed. The mood should convey a sense of satisfaction and anticipation for the next steps in the room's transformation. The overall aesthetic should be realistic, with natural light casting soft shadows, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Tip 6: Preparing Walls Properly Before Painting

Proper preparation of your plaster walls is essential before embarking on a painting project. This foundational step ensures that the paint not only adheres well but also results in a smooth and durable finish.

Thorough Cleaning

  • Remove Dust and Dirt: Use a soft brush or a vacuum with a brush attachment to eliminate all surface dust, dirt, and cobwebs that could interfere with paint adhesion.
  • Grease and Grime Removal: For areas affected by grease or smoke, a mild solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) diluted in water can be effective. Remember to rinse the walls with clean water afterward and allow them to dry completely.

Surface Repair

  • Fill Cracks and Holes: Inspect the walls for any imperfections such as cracks, holes, or chips. Use a suitable plaster filler for repairs and allow ample drying time as per the product’s instructions.
  • Sanding: Once repairs are dry, sand the filled areas gently to achieve a smooth surface. This step may also require dusting the walls again to remove any sanding residue.

Priming the Walls

  • Application of Primer: Applying a primer specifically designed for plaster walls can significantly enhance paint adhesion and ensure that the paint color appears uniform and vibrant.
  • Choosing the Right Primer: Select a primer based on the type of paint you’ll be using (water-based or oil-based) and the current condition of your plaster walls. Some primers also offer additional benefits like stain blocking or moisture resistance.

Final Checks

  • Surface Dryness: Ensure the walls are completely dry before proceeding with primer or paint application. Moisture in the plaster can lead to peeling or blistering of the paint over time.
  • Clean Workspace: Ensure that the area around the walls is clean and free of dust to avoid any particles sticking to the wet paint.

Properly preparing your plaster walls before painting is not just about cleaning. It’s about ensuring that the surface is as smooth and flawless as possible, thus setting the stage for a beautiful and long-lasting finish. By dedicating time and effort to this crucial step, you’re laying the groundwork for a successful painting project that will enhance the beauty and durability of your plaster walls.

Create an image of an indoor setting where a second plaster wall is shown in the process of being cleaned. This scene includes a person in casual attire, using a sponge and a bucket of water, actively wiping the wall. The wall shows a noticeable difference between the cleaned and yet-to-be-cleaned areas, highlighting the effectiveness of the cleaning process. The room is partially furnished, suggesting a domestic environment, with a ladder nearby and a few paint cans indicating an ongoing renovation. The lighting is natural, coming from a nearby window, casting a soft, warm glow on the scene, creating a productive and upbeat atmosphere.

Tip 7: Choosing the Right Paint for Plaster Walls

Selecting the appropriate paint for plaster walls is crucial for achieving a durable and visually pleasing finish. The right paint type and finish can accentuate the unique characteristics of plaster walls, ensuring both beauty and longevity.

Selecting the Right Paint Type

  • Latex Paint: Latex paint is often recommended for plaster walls due to its durability and ease of application. It is flexible, which allows it to adhere well to the slightly uneven surface of plaster.
  • Acrylic Paint: High-quality acrylic paint is also a great option for plaster walls. It provides excellent adhesion, durability, and a smooth finish.
  • Paint Formulated for Plaster: Choose paint specifically designed for plaster walls. These formulations ensure proper adhesion and minimize the risk of peeling or blistering.

Choosing the Appropriate Finish

  • Eggshell and Satin: An eggshell or satin finish is ideal for most plaster walls. These finishes offer a slight sheen, which helps to hide minor imperfections and is easier to clean than matte finishes. They are suitable for both low—and high-traffic areas.
  • Matte Finish: A matte finish can also be suitable for plaster walls, especially in low-traffic areas. It provides a soft, non-reflective surface but is more susceptible to marking and harder to clean.
  • Gloss and Semi-Gloss: These finishes are highly durable and easy to clean, making them suitable for high-moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms. However, they can highlight imperfections in the plaster, so they’re best used on very smooth surfaces.

Considerations for Paint Selection

  • Room Usage: The level of traffic and moisture in a room should guide your paint finish selection. High-traffic areas and spaces with high moisture levels require more durable finishes.
  • Wall Texture: The texture of your plaster walls may also influence your paint choice. Some textures may benefit from specific types of paint to achieve the desired aesthetic result.
  • Aesthetic Preferences: Finally, consider the look you want to achieve. Whether you’re going for a modern, sleek appearance or a more traditional feel, the paint finish can significantly impact the room’s overall aesthetic.

Choosing the right paint for plaster walls involves considering the paint’s formulation, the wall’s texture, and the room’s function. By selecting a paint type and finish that are well-suited to plaster, you can ensure a beautiful outcome that stands the test of time. Opting for paint specifically formulated for plaster and a finish that complements the wall’s texture and room’s use can make all the difference in achieving a professional-looking and durable finish.

Tip 8: Removing Plaster Residue from Adjacent Surfaces like Skirting Boards

After completing plastering work, plaster residue is not uncommon on adjacent surfaces such as skirting boards. Careful removal of this residue is essential to maintaining the finish and appearance of these surfaces.

Gentle Scraping

  • Use a Putty Knife or Scraper: Start by gently scraping off the dried plaster residue. A plastic putty knife or an old credit card can be effective tools for this task, as they are less likely to scratch the surface than metal tools.
  • Work Carefully: Apply light pressure to lift the plaster without gouging the wood or damaging the paint on the skirting boards.

Wiping Away Residue

  • Damp Cloth or Sponge: After scraping, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any remaining plaster dust or residue. Be cautious not to saturate the wood, especially if the skirting boards are unpainted or have a delicate finish.
  • Mild Cleaning Solution: For stubborn residue, a mild cleaning solution or a vinegar and water mixture can help loosen the plaster. Apply the solution lightly with a cloth or sponge, then wipe the area clean.

Addressing Stubborn Residue

  • Soft-bristled Brush: If plaster residue persists, a soft-bristled brush can be used in combination with a cleaning solution to scrub the area gently. Always scrub in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches.
  • Rinse and Dry: After cleaning, rinse the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any cleaning solution. Dry thoroughly with a soft towel to prevent moisture damage.

Repair and Touch-up

  • Paint or Wood Filler: If the scraping and cleaning process has caused any minor damage or removed paint from the skirting boards, touch up these areas with matching paint or use wood filler for deeper scratches or gouges. Allow any repairs to dry completely before applying paint.

Precautionary Measures

  • Test Cleaning Solutions: Before using any cleaning solution or technique on visible areas, test it on a small, inconspicuous section of the skirting board to ensure it does not damage the finish.

Removing plaster residue from skirting boards requires patience and a gentle hand. By carefully scraping, cleaning, and touching up as needed, you can restore the appearance of your skirting boards and ensure they complement your newly plastered walls without sustaining damage during the cleaning process.

Create an image showing an indoor setting where a plaster wall is being sanded in preparation for painting. The scene features a person in protective gear (dust mask, goggles) using a hand-held sanding tool on the wall, creating a smooth surface. The environment suggests a home renovation project, with dust sheets covering the floor and furniture for protection. The room is filled with natural daylight, enhancing the textures and details of the work in progress, and conveying a sense of dedication to achieving a perfect finish. The mood is focused and professional, with an emphasis on the care taken in the preparation process.

Tip 9: Post-Wallpaper Removal Cleaning for Plaster Surfaces

Removing wallpaper from plaster walls can leave behind adhesive residue that requires thorough cleaning before any new finish or paint is applied. Here’s how to effectively clean plaster walls after wallpaper removal, ensuring a smooth and clean surface ready for its next transformation.

Removing Adhesive Residue

  • Wallpaper Removal Solution: Apply a commercial wallpaper removal solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions to dissolve any remaining adhesive. These solutions are designed to break down the glue without damaging the plaster underneath.
  • Warm Water and Vinegar Solution: As an alternative, a mixture of warm water and vinegar can also soften and remove adhesive residues. Apply generously with a sponge and let it soak into the adhesive for a few minutes.

Gently Scrubbing the Walls

  • Soft-Bristled Brush or Sponge: Gently scrub the walls with a sponge or a soft-bristled brush to lift and remove the softened adhesive. It’s important to be gentle to avoid scratching or damaging the plaster surface.
  • Warm Soapy Water: For walls with minimal adhesive residue, washing with warm, soapy water and a sponge can be sufficient. This method is also useful for removing any lingering debris or stains from the wallpaper.

Rinsing and Drying

  • Rinse with Clean Water: After removing the adhesive, rinse the walls thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual cleaning solution or adhesive. A sponge or cloth dampened with water is effective for this step.
  • Allow to Dry Completely: Before proceeding with any repairs or painting, the walls must be completely dry. This may take several hours or even a day, depending on ventilation and humidity levels. Using fans or dehumidifiers can speed up the drying process.

Preparing for New Finishes

  • Repair Imperfections: Once the walls are dry, inspect for cracks, holes, or surface irregularities. Use plaster or joint compound to fill and smooth these areas, followed by sanding for a perfectly smooth surface.
  • Priming: Applying a primer designed for plaster walls can enhance paint adhesion and provide a uniform surface for painting. This step is especially important after wallpaper removal to ensure any variations in surface texture are minimized.

Cleaning plaster walls after wallpaper removal is a crucial step in the renovation process. It ensures that the plaster surface is pristine and ready for a fresh coat of paint or any other finish you envision. Taking the time to thoroughly remove adhesive residue and clean and dry the walls lays the groundwork for a successful redecoration project, ensuring lasting beauty and adherence to new wall treatments.

Illustrate an indoor scene where a freshly plastered wall is being painted. The image shows a person with a paint roller in hand, applying a vibrant coat of paint to the wall, transforming the space with a new color. The scene is set in a light-filled room, indicating the start of a bright and fresh makeover. Protective sheets are laid on the floor to catch any drips, and open paint cans are visible, suggesting a selection of colors for the project. The atmosphere is upbeat and optimistic, reflecting the creative and rejuvenating process of home improvement. The aesthetic should be realistic, capturing the texture of the paint and the smooth progress on the wall.


Maintaining the beauty and integrity of plaster walls in your home requires regular care and attention.

By incorporating a gentle approach to cleaning and avoiding harsh chemicals, you can preserve your walls’ elegance and ensure their longevity. Regular cleaning not only contributes to a healthier living environment by preventing the buildup of dirt and grime but also enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of your living spaces.

The cleaning tips provided here emphasize the importance of using the right methods and materials to tackle various challenges, from removing everyday dirt and dust to addressing more stubborn stains or preparing walls for painting.

These practices not only maintain the appearance of your plaster walls but also protect their structural integrity over time.

Remember, while regular maintenance can significantly improve the look and feel of your plaster walls, some situations may call for professional restoration, especially when dealing with extensive damage or deterioration.

Nonetheless, by following these expert cleaning tips, you can achieve professional-looking results and ensure that your plaster walls remain a beautiful and cherished feature of your home for years to come.