Tips for Eliminating Interior Wall Stains - Matt the Painter

Tips for Eliminating Interior Wall Stains

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Most painting instructions will warn to remove any stains from interior walls before applying a fresh coat of paint. The problem is that these painting instructions do not specify the best way to do so. It doesn’t take much to pick up a dust rag to wipe away cobwebs and dust but cleaning professionals are much more skilled at cleaning ink wall art, crayon scribbles, watermarks, or grease spots.

Here are a few tips to help clean prepare your interior walls for a fresh coat of paint.

Water Stains

Before cleaning water stains, finding the source of the problem is the first step. Without fixing the problem, water stains will eventually reappear after cleaning. Once the problem has been fixed, water stains can easily be cleaned up by using 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of bleach mixed in. The bleach can prevent unwanted mildew and mold from rapidly growing. Once cleaned thoroughly, use a fan or a hair dryer to dry the area. If this does not provide a solution, the only other option is to repaint. Professional painters use stain-killing primers before applying new paint.


Mildew is a nasty fungus that feeds on body oil and soap scum. The best way to get rid of mildew is to do the following: mix 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Apply to the area of wall(s) with mildew present. Enzyme laundry soap can also be used by blotting the stain and thoroughly rinsing with water.


Ink from ballpoint pens are normally oil-based and can succumb to foamy shaving cream, nail polish remover, and some cleaning solvents. When using nail polish remover or cleaning solvents, be sure that you’re cleaning in a well-ventilated space. Open the window!

Crayon Scribbles

To remove your toddler’s crayon marks from the wall, try a wall eraser. If this doesn’t work out, try using these other tricks:

  • On a damp sponge, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda and then scrub
  • Use baby wipes to wipe the scribbles away
  • In a circular motion, erase the scribbles with a pencil erases or art gum
  • Use regular toothpaste to rub the scribbles

Permanent Marker

Permanent marker is a pain to remove from the walls but there is a solution. Use a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol and then gently dab the mark. You can also use hairspray by spraying the marks and then wiping drips.

Dirt, Grease, and Grime

Grime and dirt are not uncommon and is, in fact, part of our everyday lives. Body oil from hands can seep into walls and get left behind on doors and cabinets. Fortunately, it is often the easiest to clean by using a wet wall erases and gently rubbing the area to avoid chipping paint. Another solution is using ¼ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of ammonia, and mixing it in with a gallon of hot water. Wipe the walls with the solution and rinse with clean water.

Grease is caused by the after effects of cooking. It can cover your walls and cabinets while attracting extra dust and dirt. A good degreaser dish soap can remove greasy wall stains. Stubborn grease stains can be cleaned by using the following solution: mix 2/3 cup water with 1/3 cup white vinegar and clean thoroughly.

We hope this will help you prepare for your next big interior painting project in Billings, Montana. Schedule a painting consultation with Matt the Painter by dialing (406) 697-5135.

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