How to Clean Your Ceilings

A hard-to-reach surface and built-up grime can make this area tricky to clean.

Although they are extremely low-touch parts of your home, ceilings can become quite dirty over time. The reason? Much of what is stirred up around your house (think dust, oil, grease from cooking, and random particulate) can wind up on your ceilings, building up until they become a sticky mess. Fortunately, it's not that difficult to get them clean, so long as you have the right tools and tips.

modern home living room interior
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Corral your supplies.

Cleaning your ceilings can be a lot of work if you have to lift heavy, cumbersome tools over your head for extended periods of time, which is why Alicia Sokolowski, the president and co-CEO of Aspen Clean, recommends using the right accessories for the job. "I recommend a HEPA filter vacuum with a long extension wand and soft bristled attachment to avoid scratching your ceilings, a duster with a microfiber attachment, a microfiber mop with a long extension, a paint roller (try to find one with a long extension!), and a step ladder," she says. It also helps to have a non-toxic cleaner on hand for degreasing extra-dirty sections. "If you want to make your own cleaner, mix dish soap, vinegar, and water," she says, adding that you'll need to lay plastic sheets or tarp over your floors and furniture to avoid damaging them in the process.

Clean your tools as you go.

Only use the above cleaning products on surfaces that have been preemptively dusted and relieved of any solid debris. Additionally, clean your tools frequently as you begin to clean. This means removing built up cobwebs from your dry dusters and frequently rinsing and wringing out dirty microfiber cloths. Otherwise, you run the risk of adding more dirt to other parts of your ceiling.

Prepare for sky-high ceilings.

If your home has hard-to-reach ceiling architecture, make sure you account for the longer reach when gathering supplies. "Get an extra-long telescopic extension for your duster and a step ladder," Sokolowski suggests.

Tread carefully around exposed woodwork.

Due to the rough surfaces on certain natural wood finishes, a cobweb duster or a pole vacuum and brush attachment is the best way to get your ceiling clean sans damage. "When it comes to cedar ceilings and beams, only a vacuum pole and attachment should be used," explains Pam Clyde, the CEO of BritLin Cleaning. Virtually anything else, she says, will just coat the cedar, making it look worse than it did when you began.

Beware of popcorn ceilings.

If your home was built before the 1970s and has popcorn ceilings, there may be white asbestos fiber in them, which is why Sokolowski says you'll need to be extra careful when cleaning these surfaces. "If possible, you should look into removing the popcorn ceiling," she says. "If it's a newer iteration, make sure the remove dry dust by vacuuming and dusting, regularly." Unfortunately, these ceiling types can be a magnet for dust and make stains tricky to remove, but using a damp microfiber cloth can help.

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