A bright, airy living room with smooth, white plaster walls. In the foreground, a person is gently wiping the wall with a soft, damp sponge, showing care in cleaning the delicate plaster surface.

How to Clean Plaster Walls

If you’ve ever looked at your plaster walls and wondered how to keep them sparkling clean, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’re diving into the surprisingly interesting topic of “How to Clean Plaster Walls.” Plaster walls are a bit different from the regular walls you might be used to, and they need some special attention to stay looking their best. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know, from the tools you’ll need to the best ways to tackle those stubborn stains. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just someone looking to spruce up your living space, this guide has got you covered. So, grab your cleaning supplies, and let’s get started on making those walls shine!

Understanding Plaster Walls

A Peek into Plaster’s Past

Let’s take a quick trip back in time to understand plaster better. Plaster has been around for centuries, used by ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Greeks to coat their walls and ceilings. It’s a mixture typically made from lime or gypsum, water, and sand. This combo creates a smooth, hard surface when it dries. Pretty cool, right?

Why Plaster Needs Special Care

Now, why do we need to be extra careful with plaster walls? Unlike modern drywall, plaster is more porous and sensitive. This means it can absorb liquids and stains more easily, which isn’t great for cleaning. Also, because it’s an older style of wall finish, it might have been around for a long time and could be more delicate. That’s why knowing how to clean plaster walls properly is super important.

Plaster Finishes and Cleaning

Plaster isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. There are different finishes, and each one affects how we clean it. For example, smooth, painted plaster might be easier to clean than a rough, textured one. Textured plaster has all these little nooks and crannies that can trap dirt and dust. And if you have a glossy or polished plaster finish, you’ll want to avoid harsh cleaners that can dull the shine. Understanding these finishes helps us choose the right cleaning methods, ensuring we keep our walls looking great without causing damage.

So, there you have it! A bit of history, the need for special care, and the variety of finishes—all key things to understand when figuring out how to clean plaster walls. Stay tuned as we dive into the actual cleaning methods next!

Preparation for Cleaning

Safety First: Protective Gear and Considerations

Before we start scrubbing away, let’s talk safety. Cleaning plaster walls isn’t like battling dragons, but we still need to protect ourselves. Always wear gloves to keep your hands safe from cleaning solutions. If you’re going to use any harsh chemicals (which we’ll try to avoid), consider wearing a mask and goggles. And here’s a pro tip: keep the room well-ventilated to avoid breathing in any dust or fumes.

Tools of the Trade: What You’ll Need

Now, let’s gather our cleaning toolkit. You won’t need a superhero belt, but a few key items will make the job easier:

  1. Soft Brushes and Microfiber Cloths: These are your best friends for gentle cleaning.
  2. Bucket and Mild Detergent: For making your cleaning solution.
  3. Vacuum with a Brush Attachment (Optional): Great for removing dust from textured plaster.
  4. Ladder or Step Stool (If Needed): To reach those high spots.
  5. Sponges: Preferably natural or non-abrasive ones.

Remember, the right tools make all the difference in how to clean plaster walls effectively and safely.

Pre-Cleaning: The Setup

Before we dive into the actual cleaning, let’s prep the walls. Start by dusting them to remove any loose dirt or cobwebs. You can use a soft brush or a vacuum with a brush attachment for this. Pay special attention to corners and crevices where dust loves to hide. This step is crucial because it gets rid of particles that could scratch the plaster when you start washing.

And there you have it! With your safety gear on, tools in hand, and walls dusted, you’re all set to start the cleaning process. Up next, we’ll explore the different methods to get those plaster walls looking their best. Stay tuned to learn more about how to clean plaster walls!

Cleaning Methods

Mild Cleaning: Tackling Light Dirt and Stains

When your plaster walls just need a little freshening up, mild cleaning is the way to go. This method is perfect for light dirt and small stains.

Making a Gentle Cleaning Solution:

  1. Mix a small amount of mild detergent (like dish soap) with warm water in a bucket. You’re aiming for a slightly soapy solution, not a bubble bath.
  2. Dip a soft sponge or cloth into the solution and wring it out well. The key is to use as little water as possible because plaster doesn’t like getting too wet.

Cleaning Steps:

  1. Gently wipe the walls with your damp sponge or cloth. Start from the top and work your way down.
  2. For any small stains, use a little extra elbow grease, but always be gentle.
  3. After wiping, go over the area with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any moisture.

Moderate Cleaning: Dealing with Stubborn Stains

Sometimes, you encounter tougher dirt or stains that need a bit more attention.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Agents:

  1. For moderate cleaning, you can use a slightly stronger detergent or a specialized wall cleaner. Just ensure it’s safe for plaster.
  2. Test any cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t damage the finish.

Cleaning Techniques:

  1. Apply your chosen cleaning solution using a sponge, focusing on the dirty spots.
  2. If you encounter a stubborn stain, gently scrub it, but avoid using abrasive tools that can scratch the plaster.
  3. Rinse the area with a clean, damp cloth and then dry it immediately with a towel or dry cloth.

Deep Cleaning: Conquering Severe Stains and Buildup

For severe stains or long-term buildup, deep cleaning might be necessary.

Stronger Cleaning Agents and Tools:

  1. You might need a heavy-duty cleaner for this step, but be cautious about its components. Avoid anything too acidic or abrasive.
  2. Consider using a soft-bristled brush for gentle scrubbing.

Deep Cleaning Steps:

  1. Apply the cleaning solution carefully to the stained areas and let it sit for a few minutes, but don’t let it dry on the wall.
  2. Gently scrub the area with your soft-bristled brush. Remember, plaster can be delicate, so gentle is the keyword.
  3. Rinse the area thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth and dry it off right away.

In all these methods, the focus is on being gentle and avoiding too much water or harsh chemicals. This way, you’ll keep your plaster walls clean and intact. By following these steps, you’ll become an expert in how to clean plaster walls, no matter what level of cleaning they need!

Special Considerations

Handling Painted Plaster Walls

Painted plaster walls require a slightly different approach to maintain their color and finish.

  1. Testing for Paint Type: Before cleaning, determine if the paint is washable. You can test this in an inconspicuous area by gently scrubbing with a soapy solution. If the color comes off or the surface becomes dull, it’s best to stick to dry cleaning methods.
  2. Cleaning Technique: Use a soft, damp cloth for cleaning. Avoid harsh detergents, as they can strip paint or cause fading. If you need to use a cleaner, opt for one specifically designed for painted surfaces.

Addressing Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are not just unsightly but can also cause health issues.

  1. Safety Precautions: Wear gloves, a mask, and goggles. Mold spores can be harmful if inhaled or if they come into contact with skin.
  2. Mold Cleaning Solution: Mix a solution of one part bleach to three parts water. For a more natural alternative, use distilled white vinegar.
  3. Application: Apply the solution directly to the moldy area using a sponge or spray bottle. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub gently with a soft brush.
  4. Rinsing and Drying: Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and dry it immediately to prevent the mold from returning.

Dealing with Cracks and Damage

Cleaning can sometimes highlight cracks or damage in plaster walls.

  1. Identifying Damage: Before cleaning, inspect the walls for any cracks, holes, or loose plaster. Cleaning can exacerbate these issues if not handled properly.
  2. Cleaning Around Damage: Clean gently around damaged areas. Avoid getting water or cleaning solutions into the cracks, as this can worsen the damage.
  3. Post-Cleaning Care: After cleaning, consider repairing any damage. Small cracks can often be filled with a suitable plaster patching compound, while larger damage might require professional attention.

By considering these special aspects, you can ensure that your plaster walls are not only clean but also well-maintained and preserved. This attention to detail is essential in mastering how to clean plaster walls effectively while catering to their unique needs.

Preventive Maintenance

Daily and Weekly Practices

To keep your plaster walls looking their best, incorporate some simple cleaning habits into your routine.

  1. Daily Dusting: Use a soft duster or microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the walls. This will prevent dust buildup, especially in those hard-to-reach corners and crevices.
  2. Weekly Spot Cleaning: Once a week, inspect your walls for any new stains or marks. Address these spots immediately with a gentle cleaner to prevent them from setting in.
  3. Avoiding Moisture Buildup: In areas like bathrooms and kitchens, moisture can be a problem. Use exhaust fans or open windows to keep the air circulating and walls dry.

Regular Professional Maintenance

While regular home care is crucial, sometimes your plaster walls might need a bit more attention.

  1. Annual Inspections: Consider having a professional inspect your walls once a year. They can identify issues like cracks, mold growth, or areas that need repainting.
  2. Professional Cleaning: For high ceilings or elaborate decorative plasterwork, hiring a professional cleaner can be a wise choice. They have the tools and expertise to handle these delicate features without causing damage.
  3. Repair and Restoration: If your home has historic plaster walls, professional restoration might be necessary to preserve their integrity and appearance. Specialists in historic preservation can provide the appropriate care these walls need.

By following these preventive maintenance tips, you can extend the life and beauty of your plaster walls. Regular care and occasional professional assistance are key components in how to clean plaster walls and keep them in top condition for years to come.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Solutions for Common Cleaning Challenges

Even with the best care, you might encounter some specific challenges while cleaning plaster walls. Here’s how to tackle them:

  1. Streaks After Cleaning: If you notice streaks, it could be due to using too much water or cleaner. To fix this, go over the area again with a damp cloth dipped in clean water, followed by a dry cloth.
  2. Water Marks: If water spills on the wall, blot it immediately with a dry towel. If a mark remains, gently dab the area with a damp cloth and then dry it.
  3. Stubborn Stains: For stains that resist mild cleaning, try a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then gently wipe away.
  4. Dull or Patchy Areas: These can occur from uneven cleaning or wear. Gentle buffing with a soft, dry cloth can help restore some of the wall’s uniformity.

When to Call a Professional

Sometimes, the best solution is to seek professional help, especially in the following situations:

  1. Large or Deep Cracks: If you notice significant cracking, it’s time to call in a professional. These could indicate structural issues that require expert attention.
  2. Persistent Mold or Mildew: If mold reappears after cleaning, or covers a large area, professional mold removal is necessary. This ensures that the problem is handled safely and effectively.
  3. Peeling or Flaking Paint: If the paint on your plaster walls is peeling or flaking, a professional painter or plaster expert can assess and fix the underlying issue.
  4. Historic or Decorative Plaster: For homes with historic or ornate plasterwork, professional restoration is key to preserving these unique features.

Remember, while many cleaning and minor repair tasks can be DIY, recognizing when to call in a professional is a crucial part of maintaining your plaster walls. This insight is essential in understanding how to clean plaster walls effectively and responsibly.


In this guide, we’ve journeyed through the essentials of how to clean plaster walls, covering everything from the basics of plaster care to tackling specific cleaning challenges. We’ve learned that the key to keeping these walls in great shape is a combination of regular maintenance, gentle cleaning methods, and understanding when to seek professional help. By incorporating these practices into your home care routine, you can preserve the beauty and integrity of your plaster walls for years to come. Whether you’re dealing with light dusting or addressing more stubborn issues, remember that patience and the right approach will always yield the best results. Happy cleaning!


A: It’s best to avoid harsh household cleaners, as they can damage plaster walls. Stick to mild detergents or a solution of water and a small amount of mild soap. Always test any cleaner on a small, hidden area first.

A: It depends on the room and wall conditions, but generally, a light dusting every week and a more thorough cleaning every few months should keep your plaster walls in good shape.

A: For light stains, use a soft cloth dampened with a mild soap solution. For tougher stains, a paste of baking soda and water can be effective. Remember to be gentle and avoid abrasive scrubbing.

A: Yes, a vacuum with a soft brush attachment is great for removing dust, especially from textured or decorative plaster. Just be sure to use it gently to avoid any damage.

A: For small areas, you can clean mold and mildew with a mixture of one part bleach to three parts water, or with white vinegar. For larger infestations, it’s best to call a professional.

A: Yes, but only if the paint is washable. Test a small area first, and use a damp cloth, not a soaking wet one. Avoid harsh cleaners that can damage the paint.

A: Small cracks can often be repaired with plaster patching compounds. However, if you encounter large or deep cracks, it’s advisable to consult a professional for assessment and repair.

A: Regular dusting, prompt stain removal, and controlling moisture in your home are key. Using exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms helps minimize moisture buildup, which can attract dirt and lead to mold growth.