Routine And Periodic Cleaning Of Walls And Ceilings
ROUTINE AND PERIODIC CLEANING OF WALLS AND CEILINGS
A. This procedure includes guidance on the routine and
periodic cleaning of painted and varnished wall and
ceiling surfaces using wet and dry methods.
B. Unless covered with fabric or paper, most walls are
likely to be coated. The coating may be durable like
paint, or it may be water-soluble and fragile like
calcimine or whitewash.
C. Although most of the dirt entering a building is brought
in on footwear, a part of this becomes airborne,
particularly if mats and floors are not cleaned promptly.
The volume of airborne dirt which comes to rest on walls
and ceilings is a small part of the total, but it builds
up slowly on all surfaces and is often unnoticed except
around radiators and air grills. Other dirt is deposited
on walls by the touch of people, objects or furniture.
Walls and ceilings are cleaned by both dry and wet
D. Historic Structures Precautions:
1. Personnel should review maintenance manual for
building before proceeding with work. Manual
should indicate which surfaces have historic
coatings and which have been repainted with either
reproduction or modern paints.
2. HISTORIC MATERIALS SHOULD BE CLEANED BY A
CONSERVATOR OR OTHER KNOWLEDGEABLE PERSON.
3. Contact Regional Historical Preservation Officer
(RHPO) before working on or around known historic
4. RHPO shall be notified of any visible change in the
integrity of the building's fabric whether
environmental, such as biological attack,
ultraviolet degradation, freeze, thaw, etc., or
structural defects, such as cracks, movement, or
A. Dry Methods include brushing, wiping or blowing to remove
dust from building surfaces, and to keep the soil from
becoming embedded in these surfaces.
1. Painters' brushes may be used on window sills,
cornices and ledges.
2. Feather dusters or bellows on walls are recommended
after covering any furniture with cloths.
3. Walls were swept with a broom used only for that
purpose. Sometimes a broom was covered with a
cloth or a specially prepared cloth bag. Cobwebs
were also removed by broom.
B. Wet methods include washing the surfaces with a solution
containing a cleaning agent, such as soap or a fine
abrasive, and a liquid, such as water or ammonia.
Sponges and cloths should be used to control streaking.
A. Proctor and Gamble
Reference: See the EPA website for "Design for the Environment" for list of products and other guidance.
A. Non-ionic detergent such as "Ivory Liquid", "Joy", or
B. A cleaner containing soda ash zeolites and/or citric acid.
Mild detergent such as "Tide" for painted surfaces.
C. Two sponges, one for cleaning solution and one for rinse
D. Dry wiping cloths
A. Vacuum cleaner with dusting brush attachment
B. Two buckets, one for cleaning solution and one for rinse
C. Round, soft, long-haired brush for dusting
D. Dust mop
F. Drop cloths
1. For dry wall cleaning, move furniture away from the
walls and cover with drop cloths or plastic
sheeting. Three feet should be ample. For wet
cleaning, provide additional coverings to protect
2. If ceilings are to be dusted, furniture should be
set compactly near the center of the room so that
it does not have to be moved again for ceiling
3. Wall hangings, decorations, pictures, drapes,
curtains, roller shades, etc. must be removed.
3.02 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION
A. Select method of cleaning based on type of wall or
NOTE: FOR WALLS AND CEILINGS COATED WITH LEAD-BASED
PAINT, TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS. CONSULT RHPO FOR
GUIDANCE IN UNDERTAKING A RISK ASSESSMENT TO IDENTIFY
LEAD HAZARDS BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH WORK.
1. Oil-based and latex paints, varnish, and modern
coatings may be washed safely using both wet and
dry cleaning methods.
2. Surfaces finished with calcimine or whitewash are
water soluble and should be cleaned ONLY with dry
methods. NO WET METHODS ARE PERMITTED.
NOTE: Some conservators and architects use an
imitation whitewash that can be washed with care.
3. Shellacked or oiled wood surfaces should NOT be
washed with wet methods.
4. Wet methods for other materials may be tried after
receiving advice from a conservator.
B. Dry Cleaning Methods:
1. Routinely (on a regular basis):
CAUTION: TAKE CARE WHEN DUSTING NOT TO RUB
ADJACENT VERTICAL SURFACES, LEAVING DIRT RESIDUE
AND ABRASIVE MARKS ON WALLS OR SMEARS ON GLASS.
a. Dust using a vacuum cleaner and a round, soft,
long haired brush or a treated dust cloth.
b. Dust all ledge-type horizontal surfaces, tops
of baseboards, window sills, door panel
moldings, tops of mantels, tops of door and
window trim, and tops of doors.
NOTE: DO NOT LEAVE LEDGES ABOVE EYE LEVEL FOR
PERIODIC CLEANING. THE RATE OF DIRT
ACCUMULATION IS MUCH FASTER THAN ON WALLS OR
C. After a heating season check areas above
radiators or wall grilles for dust build-up.
If build-up is light enough to be handled with
a vacuum wall brush without objectionable
light spots appearing on the wall, periodic
wall dustings may be spaced further apart.
a. Dust cobwebs from walls and ceilings
especially at corners. Lift cobwebs outward
and upward so that they do not smear.
b. Dust walls and ceilings using a vacuum cleaner
with a dusting brush attachment. Start in a
corner at the floor and move upward to the
cornice. A light, even touch with overlapping
strokes provides the best cleaning. Keep the
brush clean to avoid streaks.
C. Wet Cleaning Methods:
1. Routinely (on a regular basis):
a. Spot clean to remove smudges and marks left by
hands and bumps from furniture and other
NOTE: The areas requiring the most frequent
spot cleaning are around light switches,
thermostats, doors, the wall side of stairs,
bell pulls, wall sconces, etc.
1) Rub spot gently with a clean sponge,
dampened ONLY with clean, clear water.
2) Dry with a clean wiping cloth.
3) If water alone does not remove the spot,
mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of detergent in 1
gallon of warm water.
4) Rub the spot gently with a clean sponge
dampened with solution. Blend the spot
into the remaining surrounding surface.
5) Rinse with a clean sponge dampened with
clean, clear water and allow to dry.
b. Inspect and dust areas around radiators and
a. Dust walls as described above.
b. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent in
1 gallon of warm water.
c. Wash walls beginning at a lower corner of the
room, including the baseboard. Moisten an
area approximately 5 to 10 SF. and rub with a
clean sponge dampened with the solution.
NOTE: To prevent water from streaking the
wall, the sponge used for the cleaning should
be wet but not dripping.
NOTE: THERE IS SOME DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AS
TO WHETHER IT IS BEST TO WASH A WALL WORKING
FROM THE TOP DOWN OR FROM THE BOTTOM UP.
BOTTOM UP IS SAFER BECAUSE SOLUTION STREAKS
RUNNING DOWN ON A DIRTY WALL CANNOT BE
REMOVED. THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO WORK DRY
ENOUGH TO AVOID DRIPS.
d. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean, clear
water. Two rinsings may be necessary to
remove all the cleaning solution and dirt from
the wall. Change rinse water frequently.
e. Dry the area with a clean cloth.
f. Continue the process of wetting, rubbing,
rinsing, and drying around the lower portion
of the room with each section overlapping the
preceding section slightly.
g. Proceeding up the wall, wash the upper
portions of the room and the ceiling in the
same manner, working from a step ladder.
Painted woodwork should be washed with the
END OF SECTION