How to clean walls for a spotless, sweet smelling home

Waste of time or a complete gamechanger?
Contemporary living room with cool white walls.(Photography: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

The first time I realised cleaning walls on a regular basis was a thing was when I fell into a TikTok cleaning rabbit hole late at night. The algorithm served up video after video of influencers detailing the process of ‘how to clean walls’ until it felt like the walls of my own home were about to fall in on me out of pure shame. Never in my life had I cleaned a wall, nor did I intend to start. Surely cleaning walls was only something you did to prepare for a new paint job? Turns out I was wrong, but not alone. 

I drove myself up the walls in an attempt to find out what all the fuss was about but was relieved to discover that there were plenty of wall washing dodgers like me out there. That said, there were also plenty of people washing their walls with alarming frequency, ranging anywhere from once a fortnight to once a year. 

The reasons for the wall washing were numerous: reduced dust allergy symptoms, a home that always smells clean, to remove the build up of kitchen grease and to wipe away the sins of grubby pet paws and grotty toddler shenanigans. On top of this, washing walls is also good for the paint, with Dulux recommeding a thorough clean at least every two years to prolong the life of the product.

Long hallway with arched details and a dog sitting right at the end.
(Credit: Photographer: Natalie Jeffcott)

Even though I was convinced I’d rather watch paint dry than wash my walls, I decided to put my back and shoulders on the line and give it a go to a) see what all the fuss is about and b) hopefully prove that this is a job you can skip guilt-free. Concerned I’d make a mess of my walls and leave it coated in streaks and watermarks, I decided to consult cleaning expert, Barb de Corti, founder and CEO of Enjo for her tips on how to do the job correctly. 

What is the best thing to wash walls with? 

Barb says it’s best to keep things simple when washing walls to avoid creating streaks or watermarks. She swears by the power of microfibre and water alone and recommends the Enjo Living Multi Tool Fibre and Multi Tool Hardware with a telescopic pole to reach high ceilings.  For this story, I also used: a flat mop (the Mr Siga Professional Microfibre Mop, specifically), the Vileda Spin Mop and all-purpose microfibre cloths.

  • If you’ve tried to clean your walls in the past and ended up with streaky walls that looked worse than when you started, Barb says that following a simple formula can prevent that from happening again. “Use this system: dust, wipe, rinse then stain removal.” 
  • “When cleaning walls, it’s important to work quickly and not to soak the area,” says Barb who says it’s important to dry the walls thoroughly after cleaning them.
Barb’s top tips for cleaning walls: 

(Photography: Martina Gemmola | Styling: Aimee Tarulli)

Method 1: Water and microfibre

For quick cleans to remove dust and light grease, the best option is to keep things simple with water and microfibre. This method is also great for spot cleaning and for tackling smaller areas.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 microfibre cloths: one for dusting, one for cleaning and one for drying
  • Spray bottle filled with water (optional extra: white vinegar to deoderise and cut through grease naturally)
  • Bucket to rinse cleaning cloth frequently

What to do:

  1. To remove dust, start at the top of the wall and lightly skim the surface of the walls with a dry microfibre cloth.
  2. Dampen another microfibre cloth (or an Enjo Fabric Glove) and, working in small sections from top to bottom, wash the walls in a circular motion. 
  3. Rinse the cloth regularly to prevent dust streaks.
  4. Dry the area with a soft cloth and wipe down the skirting boards as you go.
An artwork by Cinnamon on a bench by the kitchen.
(Credit: Photography: Mindi Cooke / Styling: Tahn Scoon)

Full disclaimer: It took me three weeks to actually muster up the time and energy to wash my walls. This is part of the problem with the task – where to fit it into an already busy life and cleaning schedule? But, I began by dusting my walls with a dry microfibre cloth on a telescopic handle. This part was pretty easy.

Then, I used a spray bottle filled with water to lightly dampen a clean Enjo dusting glove. I was careful not to spray the water directly on the wall. I then proceeded to wipe the walls in a top-to-bottom, left-to-right motion. I could see the damp marks on the wall, and tried not to freak out about streaking until the process was completely finished.

Using another microfibre cloth, I went over the wall to remove as much moisture as possible. The result was a completely streak- and dust-free finish. 

How I went using Method #1

Method 2: Cleanser, hot water and a mop

If you’re cleaning a large area or are tackling a wall with visible dirt and grime, you may need to reach for a slightly stronger cleaning solution.

What you’ll need:

What to do:

  1. Dust the wall using a dry mop head or flat mop cloth. 
  2. Dilute the cleaning solution in water according to the instructions on the packaging. (If using dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent, a drop is more than enough).
  3. Using a clean mop head or mop cloth, dip the mop in the cleaning solution and wring out as much excess water as possible. Working from the top down and from left to right, wipe the walls lightly to clean. Avoid scrubbing in any one spot for too long. 
  4. Dry the wall with a clean microfibre cloth.
A neutral living area with a timber coffee cable and a sectional grey sofa.
(Credit: Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

I tried Method 2 twice. The first time with a flat microfibre mop and a drop of Undo This Mess Deep Clean Laundry Liquid diluted in steaming hot water and the second time with a Vileda Spin Mop and a drop of Wash Wild Dishwashing Liquid

Round one:

In my research on this topic, I found a lot of people who swear by washing their walls with a drop of fabric softener in hot water. I personally don’t love the smell of most fabric softeners, but I’m obsessed with the natural fragrance of Undo This Mess Deep Clean Laundry Liquid (it reminds of Barley Sugar lollies and freshly laundered, line-dried linen). So I thought, why not try that in place of fabric softener? 

After dry dusting the wall, I diluted a drop of the laundry liquid in a bucket of boiling water, dipped a microfibre cloth in the solution and wrung it out as much as possible. I then placed the microfibre cloth onto a flat mop and washed the walls in a top-to-bottom, left-to-right motion. Initially I found it hard to manouever the flat mop, and found it kind of got stuck and flipped around before I got the hang of it. The advantage of this method was that I was able to tackle a large area of the wall in a pretty short amount of time. I followed up by drying the wall with a clean, dry cloth and it too left a streak free finish with the added bonus of fresh fragrance. 

Round two:

Ah the spin mop. Love it for my floors but was honestly terrified of using it on my walls. I thought it would be hard to control in an upright position and leave far too much moisture behind, but I was actually so surprised when I gave it a go. After dry dusting the wall, I filled the spin mop bucket with hot water from the tap. I then added a drop of dishwashing liquid to the water and submerged the spin mop head in the solution. I spun the mop, spun it again, and spun it again (just for good measure). Then I began mopping the walls. It was difficult to go from left-to-right using this mop, so I went with more of an up-and-down motion, starting on the right side of the wall to the left. It was fast, easy to see marks and clean them as I went and it definitely didn’t leave much moisture behind at all. Again, I dried the wall with a microfibre cloth and didn’t notice any streaks or water marks. This was my favourite method by far and feel this would be the best choice if you’re prepping walls to paint, or need to deep clean a large room.

How I went using Method #2

(Photography: Marnie Hawson | Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Best tools for washing walls


Vileda Easy Wring & Clean spin mop and bucket set

$46, Big W

If you haven’t yet tried the Vileda spin mop, what are you waiting for? It’s not just a gimmicky product, but an actual cleaning game-changer. The spinning action rings out excess water with ease and the microfibre head traps dust and debris in a single swoop. The best part is that the mop head is removable and machine washable, which means it’s super hygienic too.

Key features:

  • Easy to use
  • Machine washable mop head
  • Microfibre mop head can be used with water alone to remove up to 99% of bacteria


Mr Siga professional microfibre mop with stainless steel handle

$39.99, Amazon

Flat mops are a great option for washing walls as they can cover large zones quickly. The Mr Siga flat mop comes with three high-quality microfibre cloths that are machine washable. It’s also perfect for keeping your floors clean between deep cleans.

Key features:

  • Comes with two additional microfibre mop cloths
  • Sturdy build
  • Telescopic handle great for reaching ceilings and corners


Enjo Dust Multi-Tool Fibre

$49, Enjo

Before you wash your walls, it’s important to remove surface dust first. This will prevent your mop or cloth from ‘chasing’ dirt around the wall. The Dust Multi Fibre Tool traps and physically removes dust and can be washed and reused for up to 3 years. Note: Multi-Tool hardware and Telescopic pole sold separately.

Key features:

  • Quickly cleans dust
  • Microfibre construction traps dust
  • Hand-sewn and individually quality-checked for durability


2-piece Wash Wild Dishwashing Liquid and refill set

$19.95, Temple & Webster

Dishwashing liquid is the most versatile household cleaning product. You can use it to clean virtually every room, so it’s important to invest in one that’s good for your home and good for the planet. Wash Wild is made using a CSIRO-developed combination of natural extracts proven to kill 99.9% of germs.

Key features:

  • Natural, plant-based formula
  • Packaged in 100% recycled PET plastic
  • Leaves a fresh, citrus scent


Tricleanium ultra-concentrated cleaner

$31.79, Amazon

If your walls are plagued by smoke stains, visible dirt, mould or built-up grease, Tricleanium is the miracle product that will bust through it all without elbow grease. It’s a non-corrosive, non-scratch formula that is safe to use on painted surfaces, concrete, laminate, plastic and more.

Key features:

  • Made from 100% alkaline salts
  • Non-corrosive formula
  • Safe to use on a wide range of surfaces including painted walls


Undo This Mess deep clean laundry liquid, 2L

$18, Woolworths

I fell in love with this laundry liquid shortly after my daughter was born. The gentle fragrance (that reminds me of a combination of barley sugar and freshly laundered linen) is divine without being overpowering. It’s also made right here in Australia using plant-based ingredients, recycled plastic, and solar energy. Turns out a drop of this in a bucket of hot water is also perfect for keeping walls clean and smelling fresh!

Key features:

  • Made from plant-based ingredients
  • Subtle, natural scent
  • Bottle made from recycled plastic

Why is it important to wash your walls?

Walls are a magnet for dust and debris, so regular cleaning is essential, says Barb. “They have a way of collecting dust and cobwebs in the corners,” she says, adding “Smoke in the house like tobacco, candles and incense as well as cooking fumes can accumulate over time and stain walls, making a clean necessary.”

How often should you wash your walls? 

“It’s best to dust at least once or twice a month,” says Barb. That being said, if your walls are stained or you can see visible dirt, grease or … crayon … then you may need to wash them more frequently. 

Some homes require more frequent wall washing than others. If, for example, you have an open fireplace, children, indoor pets and dark walls that show every speck of dust, you may find your walls need more frequent upkeep than a next door neighbour who has zero pets, a takeaway addiction and a reverse cycle air conditioner with a built-in HEPA filter.

Certain rooms also require more attention than others. “Kitchen walls have cooking and frying fumes which stick to the walls over time and make them look yellow,” says Barb. “Bathroom walls have hair spray, deodorants and other sprays which make them sticky and attract dust.”

When I moved into my home two years ago, the walls had been freshly painted. This was the first time I’d ever attempted to wash the walls and although I found the task much easier than I thought it would be, I don’t think it made that much of a difference to the look or cleanliness of my home. If you have a fireplace or pets, you may find it a chore worth doing regularly. But for me? I’m going to skip washing walls completely guilt free for at least another two years. 

My final thoughts

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