Cleaning Popcorn Ceilings

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated June 5, 2023)

Popcorn style ceilings became exceedingly popular during the 1970's and were put into homes across the country. Over time the popularity of these types of ceilings waned, and as such were deemed to no longer be all that fashionable. That doesn't change the fact, however, that these types of ceilings need to be cleaned, and cleaning them can be a challenge. Here are some ideas for how to make your popcorn ceiling look like new. (Well, closer to new than it looks now.)

  1. Check the ceiling. Unfortunately, not all popcorn ceilings are made the same. This means that you will need to actually inspect the ceiling (preferably using a ladder or some type of scaffolding to reach it) to see if it is sanded paint or Styrofoam pellets. If it is the latter, then the pellets will simply break off when you try to clean it, so have a professional do the cleaning for you. For those who have a true popcorn ceiling, you can proceed with cleaning the ceiling yourself.
  2. Use the vacuum. Use the soft-bristled attachment of your vacuum cleaner as well as the long-reach attachment and begin working on the ceiling. Often by simply vacuuming the ceiling you can end up rendering it nice and clean. However, for the particularly set-in dirt you will need to use a cleaning solution or other cleaning tools to get the job done properly. Some of the best options that you can use are a soft, damp sponge, and a 50/50 water and white vinegar cleaning solution.
  3. Start in one corner. Choose one corner of the room, and set up your ladder or scaffolding that will allow you to reach the ceiling. Place the sponge (or washcloth) into the cleaning solution, and then wring out the sponge or washcloth as much as possible. Remember, you will want to have the sponge damp, but not excessively wet. Gently scrub at the ceiling, not using very much pressure, and get the ceiling clean.
  4. Continue to the opposite corner. Periodically you will have to rinse out the sponge to "refresh" the cleaning solution that is in it. In addition, you will also need to regularly move your ladder or scaffolding so that you can reach the ceiling with relative ease. Be prepared to spend a bit of time going up and down ladders while you do this. Continue cleaning, going from one corner to the other (as well as side to side) until you finish cleaning the ceiling.
  5. Dry and inspect. Since even a damp cloth can have great effect on a popcorn ceiling, you will need to allow the ceiling to completely dry before you do any additional touch ups. Simply wait about an hour or two, and the ceiling should be dry. When it is, carefully inspect the ceiling for any further signs of dirt.
  6. Repeat as necessary. If you find any further signs of dirt, repeat steps two through five until you have cleaned the ceiling.

While this method can be very effective at cleaning your popcorn ceilings, you should also be very careful. The reason for this is that if you aren't careful you can easily damage the ceiling. In fact, while it is possible to clean popcorn ceilings, it may be a better idea to simply remove them and replace them with something else. However, that is the subject of a different article.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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