The Small Cleaning Task With a Really Big Impact

published Apr 10, 2018
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

This year, we’re on a mission to help you tackle spring cleaning on your time. Each weekday until April 13, we’ll guide you through a plan to clean and organize different areas of your home, but you’ll have the flexibility to choose exactly what to work on and how long you have to dedicate to the job.

It’s all too easy to ignore your walls. They don’t nag at you like filmy windows or a sink filled with dishes. They’re always just kind of there. The silent backdrop to every design moment across your space. But it is important to adjust your focus every once in a while — spring cleaning is a great time to do it — and zoom in on the canvas that holds your home together.

Following the path of producer/rapper/actor/king of crunk Lil Jon, we’re going from the windows (yesterday’s mission) to the walls with today’s task. The goal is a clean, pristine background free from scuffs, scrapes and other blemishes.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Today’s Task: Your Walls

Decide how much time you can dedicate to cleaning your walls today, then choose your micro-mission:

If you have 1 day…

Restore and wash your walls. First, walk around and make note of any parts of your walls that require fixing — consider things like chipped paint, holes that need to be patched or major scuffs that you want to scrub off or paint over. If you have the time and tools to get to those today, jump on it! If not, you can come back to it later.

Next, you’re going to want to wash your walls. That means taking down artwork and moving furniture away from the walls, then systematically making your way around; first dusting the walls with a cloth or Swiffer sweeper-type tool, then gently washing the walls down with a bit of soapy water. There’s a step-by-step tutorial right here for you to follow along with:

It’s a time consuming process, to be sure, but it’s great for your space and has the added benefit of extending the life of your paint. If you need to shave some time off the task, feel free to skip rooms that don’t get a lot of action day to day.

If you have 1 hour…

Walk around and remove scuffs and dirt. My favorite tool for this task is a magic eraser (the generic brand works great)—just test it on an inconspicuous spot first to both make sure your paint can stand up to the power and also that you know how much muscle to use. You’ll want to re-test on every new color, sheen or brand of paint.

Take your eraser (or whatever kit you prefer to use) and just walk around your space, eyeing up and down for scuffs or marks that need erasing. The follow the wall method will be your secret weapon here.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

If you have 10 minutes…

Wipe down light switches and outlets. Your hands — in various states of filth — touch these every day. So the objective here is just de-germing them. Use your favorite disinfectant and give each light switch and outlet a careful but quick wipe down.

If you have 1 minute…

Hop online and order a few paint touch up pens. They’re designed to store small amounts of wall paint long-term, and make it easy to apply paint to walls without getting out a whole kit of tools. It’s like concealer for your walls — whenever chips and scuffs happen, you’ll be ready to cover them right away.

If you have any tools or tricks you use to take care of your walls day-to-day, please share the knowledge! It can be a tedious job, so we need all the help we can get.