How to Clean Walls and Ceilings Using Branch Basics

How often do you think about cleaning your home’s walls and ceilings?  Perhaps never?!  Yet, cleaning them can make a big difference in your home’s air quality as porous drywall attracts a good bit of dust, mold, pollens, viruses, bacteria, VOCs (especially fragrance chemicals), and other pollutants. Better air means better health and improved immunity for your family. 

No time to clean your whole house? This cleaning process can be taken incrementally and in workable steps just one room at a time or it can be taken on like a spring-cleaning project – all at once. Consider this, just cleaning the walls and ceilings of your bedrooms can make a world of difference in your family’s health since it is so important to reduce the chemical and particulate load on the body at night so that rejuvenation and repair can take place instead of detoxification. If there is anyone that is not well in the home, please make his or her bedroom the first priority.  

PROCESS Overview

HEPA Vacuum and Damp Wiping with Branch Basics

  • HEPA vacuuming removes the largest amount of contamination from walls and ceilings. It also helps to remove loose dirt or dust and will make damp cleaning faster.  
  • Damp wiping with a non-toxic cleaner like Branch Basics will cut through surface film* and remove remaining dirt, grime, and debris leaving a very clean surface.

* Sometimes grime, fragrances and chemicals can be very difficult to completely remove because they incorporate into porous surfaces especially drywall, but this protocol addresses this issue with a technique and procedure that uses Branch Basics to break down and remove these VOC’s.  

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • A Certified Sealed HEPA Vacuum –  this type of vacuum guarantees that the dust and allergens you vacuum up don’t escape back into the air making your air cleaner when you finish vacuuming.  

Most vacuums come with one or two brush attachments. Use the widest brush you have, but make sure there are no hard plastic parts that will contact the wall or ceiling surface. Floor attachments give the widest reach, just be careful not to scratch the walls. Be safe – Do what you need to do to vacuum ceilings. Add all the extension wands that you have, or attach a long extension hose to reach the ceiling or reach high on the wall. If you can’t reach high enough with your attachments, raise the vacuum by setting it on a step ladder or a tall chair.

No vacuum? Don’t Despair! Microfibers to the rescue for grabbing dust and dirt, picking up and holding on to tiny particles on your walls and ceilings. If you have no HEPA vacuum you will be combining the first and second steps making sure you are using a microfiber for this cleaning step.

Mop Options

*We recommend distilled water since tap water may contain minerals that could leave streaks or water marks on your walls.

PREPARATION – TEST THE WALL SURFACES

Since every home has different paint and variations in wall materials throughout the home, it is important to spot test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area (maybe behind a picture)  on each room’s painted walls to make sure it doesn’t cause streaking or any other undesirable result.  Let dry, stand back and see if there is any problem.  This is normally not an issue, but do not skip this step. Make sure you test each painted surface that is a different color, a different paint brand, or texture.

PROCEDURE

Step 1: HEPA Vacuuming* –   Starting with ceiling and moving down to walls, HEPA vacuum making three passes over each section, overlapping strokes by 30%. Since dust will be dislodged during the vacuuming process – the order is important as dust drops down on room surfaces from the ceiling and walls.  After ceilings and walls, vacuum all horizontal and vertical surfaces, furniture, lamps, etc. Vacuum the floors last. Just taking this first step – HEPA vacuuming –  makes a tremendous difference in your room’s air quality.. 

*If you do not have a HEPA vacuum, skip to step 2b – Damp Wiping with Disposable Microfiber Cleaning Cloths.

Step 2a:  Damp Wiping with Branch Basics – After you have HEPA vacuumed the room, prepare two buckets. Your first bucket will be the distilled water with Branch Basics solution: 1 tsp. of Branch Basics for each gallon of water. The second bucket is a rinse bucket – just fill it with clean water. When you are ready, dip your microfiber or sponge mop* in the Branch Basics solution and squeeze as much water out as possible. Thoroughly wipe, starting with ceiling, then walls, then floors. Be sure that the surface looks slightly damp after wiping, but not truly wet. Make three passes over each area with a 30% overlap. As you need more Branch Basics solution, first rinse the mop in the clean water bucket, squeeze out the water, then dip again in the Branch Basics solution. You will notice the “clean” water bucket will start turning gray quickly. Refill with fresh water as needed. Last, clean gloss or semi gloss painted doors, frames, and baseboard trim. Spray All Purpose directly on the surface and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. 

Step 2b:  Damp Wiping with Disposable Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. Prepare one bucket with the distilled water with Branch Basics solution: 1 tsp. of Branch Basics for each gallon of water. Use single use disposable Swiffer microfiber wipes. Fold the wipe into quarters or a size which is manageable. Dip the wipe in the soapy water solution, then wring it as dry as you can. It can be helpful to fold and dip a bunch of wipes at the same time, then squeeze the bunch of them to get as much water out as you can. Thoroughly wipe, starting with ceiling, then walls, then floors. Be sure that the surface looks slightly damp after wiping, but not truly wet. Make three passes over each area. Wipe across the surface keeping track of what has and hasn’t been wiped. As the wipe becomes loaded with the grime keep adjusting to a clean part of the wipe so as not to smear. Once the entire surface of the wipe(front and back) has been used – stop, discard*, and get a new wipe.  Last, clean gloss or semi gloss painted doors, frames, and baseboard trim: Spray All Purpose directly on the surface and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. 

*These can be used once, but durable enough to rinse out or launder and keep on cleaning.

And don’t forget the door knobs! Use the All Purpose Spray. The natural surfactants in All Purpose are very effective at binding to germs so they can be removed. In addition, it has been found that soaps, like Branch Basics, disable viruses by dissolving the lipid layer that holds them together.  Per the CDC, removing germs with natural soap, vs. killing them with disinfectants, is the safest cleaning method as it doesn’t create resistant bacteria

Congratulations – You are done!!

Your Wall & Ceiling Cleaning FAQs Answered

Q: How often should I clean my walls?

A: Typically once per year is enough. You may wish to clean your walls more often if you or anyone in your family is chronically ill, have allergies or asthma, if you live in a very dusty area and definitely if you’ve done any renovations, had pesticides sprayed in the home, or had mold problems. 

Q: When’s the best time of year to clean walls?

A: Spring or fall are best in most parts of the country, as you can open your windows to help naturally speed drying time.

Q: Should I clean my walls before painting?

A: Absolutely, yes. This is the perfect wall preparation for painting.  No sense in having dust, pollutants,  and germs mixed in with your beautiful new, non-toxic paint. Plus, the cleaner your walls the more seamless the paint finish. Keep in mind, painters typically won’t do this unless you ask them to and pay extra.

Q: What’s the best non-toxic paint?

A: We like ECOS or Envirosafe which are free of VOCs, SVOCs, and offgas completely in just a few hours.

Q: Can’t I just vacuum my walls ? Isn’t that enough?

A: Yes, you can just vacuum your walls.  You will have accomplished a lot. But grime can build up and  sometimes fragrances and chemicals can be very difficult to completely remove because they incorporate into porous surfaces, especially drywall. Using the Branch Basics solution addresses this issue because it breaks down and removes these VOC’s.  

 Q: Should I clean bathroom walls more often?

A: If your bathroom has poor ventilation and you’re concerned about mold, definitely. 

Q: What if I’m unsure how the paint is on my walls?

A: Most paints respond well to the 1 teaspoon Concentrate : 1 gallon water ratio, but when in doubt do a patch test.

Moving into a new apartment, home, or office? Check out our Official Branch Basics Deep Cleaning Method for helpful advice on safer move-in cleaning.

Looking for non-toxic Spring Cleaning tips? You’ll find everything you need in: Spring Into Cleaning: Your Complete Guide to Cleaning and Decluttering Your Home.

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2 Comments

    1. Hello Emily. You can’t clean popcorn ceilings. This may contain asbestos, and you don’t want to disturb it.

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