Remove Stains From Walls Before You Paint. Courtesy of Josh Gonzalez of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties.

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Prime Properties

Remove Stains From Walls Before You Paint.  Courtesy of Josh Gonzalez of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties.

Remove stains from walls before you slap on another coat: It's the first commandment of painting. Here's how to wash seven common stains off your walls.

Wall erasers work like a charm on crayon marks.

If someone has used your wall as a drawing board, try a wall eraser or toothpaste to erase the marks. Image: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

Painting instructions often warn: Remove stains from walls before painting. But they never say how. Any cleaning rookie can wipe off dust and cobwebs. But it takes a cleaning pro to scour grease stains, watermarks, and kids' crayon and ink wall art.

Dirt and grime

Dirt and grime are part of everyday life. The oil from your hands gets onto walls, cabinets, doors, and door frames. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ($3 for 4 pads) easily cuts through these stains. Wet the sponge and rub gently to avoid taking bits of paint off with the stain.

Or try this: Mix 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup white distilled or apple cider vinegar, and ¼ cup baking soda with one gallon of warm water. Wipe the solution over walls with a sponge or cloth, and rinse with clear water. The solution won't dull the painted finish or leave streaks. 


Grease is an occupational hazard of cooking; it covers cabinets and walls and attracts dirt and dust. Any good dish soap can remove grease stains on walls. For small stains, mix ¼ teaspoon of soap in a cup of warm water, and wipe. Rinse with clean water, and blot until dry. Clean stubborn grease stains with solution of 1/3 cup of white household vinegar with 2/3 cup of water.


Wall erasers work like a charm on crayon marks. If they don't do the trick:

  • Rub marks with toothpaste (not gel).
  • Erase marks with an art gum or a pencil eraser; use a circular motion.
  • Swipe marks with baby wipes.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub marks.

Permanent marker

Permanent markers are tough to remove from walls. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and dab the stain. Or spray marks with hairspray, then wipe drips.


Ballpoint ink, which is oil-based, often succumbs to foaming shaving cream, dry-cleaning solvent such as Carbona, or nail polish remover. Make sure you open windows when using cleaning solvents and polish remover.


Mildew is a fungus that eats soap scum and body oil. To remove from walls, spray with vinegar water: 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 quart water. Also, try an enzyme laundry detergent; follow the pre-treating directions on the label. Blot it on the stain, and then rinse thoroughly with water.

Water stains

After you've solved the problem that caused the water stains, rinse with a solution of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water to prevent mold and mildew from growing. Thoroughly dry with a hairdryer or fans. If bleaching doesn't remove water stains, you'll have to repaint. Prime the walls with a stain-killing primer, such as Kilz Paint.  

By: Pat Curry

Comments (1)

Not very likely.If it was not canleed in a fairly short time, the acidity in urine has destroyed the color.If it's just in one area that could be "plugged", a repair may be possible.You would need a closet with the same carpet to do this, but be aware that the color will not match exactly. A closet gets no wear and exposure to light, will appear more new than the traffic area.If you decide to do this, be certain that the closet piece is enough to do the job.Measure the closet. You will need a very small piece in order to shop for a replacement, (remnant), in the closet. Find as close a match as can be had.Then you need an experienced carpet installer to plug the stained area and replace the closet.This is my best suggestion and may not be the answer.Most carpet is dyed after the tufting is finished, before the backing is applied.The fiber takes the dye and if one could see a cross section, it would look like a radish, with the dye penetrating to a shallow depth. Urine has penetrated the yarn in the same manner.
Jul 18, 2012 03:21 PM