Dirty shoes, sporting gear, crayons, Sunday lasagna—they’ve all made lasting impressions on your walls. Fortunately, you may not need to apply a new coat of paint to erase the damage. You can restore your walls to mint condition by using the following expert hacks.
Scuff marks are inevitable—and possibly the easiest to remove. Gently rub a tennis ball over the scuff. “The material they’re made of is abrasive and gentle at the same time,” says Olivia Joyce, owner of A to Z Cleaning. Just make sure one of those balls doesn’t end up in a game of catch with your wall (or you might have to see “For Cracks and Holes” below!).
For Pen Marks
To remove ink, reach for an alcohol-based hairspray or a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Spray the mark and dab it with a paper towel or cotton pad until the ink is gone.
For Grease and Grime
First, pre-treat the area by dampening a microfiber cloth with warm water and laying the cloth over the stain, Joyce says. Then, mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, spritz the mixture onto the stain, and pat the stain dry with a paper towel. For tougher stains, combine three parts baking soda with one part water in a bowl, and then rub the paste directly onto the stain. Rinse with warm water and follow with the vinegar and water solution.
For Crayon Crimes
David Smith of Star Domestic Cleaners London aptly calls the colored streaks from crayons “a mother’s nightmare.” Removing them, however, can be rather easy. He suggests squeezing plain white toothpaste—not gel—onto a clean, soft toothbrush and gently scrubbing the marks until they’re gone. (This toothpaste trick also works on stubborn dirt and scuff marks.)
If your kid’s artwork still remains, Joyce recommends covering the marks with blotting paper or brown paper and running a warm iron over the area to absorb the crayon marks. Shift the paper as you go. When all else fails, apply a paste of cornstarch and cleaning deterrent to the mark and let it dry. Then, scrub it off with a gentle sponge or brush until it disappears.
For Cracks and Holes
Here’s where you’ll need a little paint. For walls made of drywall (which most are), fill small cracks and holes with a drywall compound and a putty knife, suggests Matthew Fry, owner of The City Painters. “You may need to run the putty knife over the hole or crack a few times in order to fill it completely,” he says. Let the compound dry, and then sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper. Prime the patched surface and paint it. You can also try this handy repair kit.
Keep these tips posted on your wall. You never know when you’ll need them.