The popcorn ceiling is recognizable anywhere: the thick and textured finish that hangs an inch from the ceiling and is known as cottage cheese, acoustic, or popcorn anywhere. These ceilings were quite popular in the 1950s as sound-dampening, economic, and aesthetic design choices that many people see as useful in homes across the country. However, the sharp and textured finish of these popular ceilings leave many people wondering how to clean popcorn ceilings. Taking a sponge or rag to the ceiling isn’t easy, and the dust, dirt, or cooking stains that begin to cling to your ceiling may seem unlikely to come off anytime soon.
Our cleaning experts have worked with popcorn ceilings for many years. After trial and error, our research has uncovered the best solutions for dealing with popcorn ceilings, from removing immediate dust to scrubbing out old and set grease stains that don’t quite seem to leave. Thanks to this handy cleaning guide, you can scrub out popcorn ceilings in just a few minutes and enjoy clean, fresh, and pristine condition ceilings all year long.
A Warning- Check for Asbestos
Back when popcorn ceilings first came into fashion, they were often made with a then unknown material known as asbestos. Today, we understand that it could be a dangerous carcinogen that can have serious impacts on your health, so if you find yourself entering a space with a popcorn ceiling, you need to make sure they’re not made with asbestos. Don a dust mask and safety glasses and test for asbestos as soon as you can, and if you need to, hire professionals to ensure all asbestos is safely removed. Make sure you lay down drop cloths or plastic sheets to catch any ceiling droppings while you test it as well so if it is dangerous you can clean it all up in one go.
Vacuuming Your Ceiling
- Handheld Vacuum or Vacuum With Long Hose
- Brush Attachment
Vacuuming your ceiling may seem a bit silly, but in truth it’s the best way to keep your ceiling completely clean. Suction will immediately dislodge spider webs, dust bunnies, and other stains or debris that can collect on your popcorn ceiling over time. Suctioning out your ceiling will require a little legwork, but with some maneuvering it’s very doable. If you have a handheld vacuum, grab a stepladder and get up close to the ceiling. Slowly take your vacuum over the surface of the ceiling, paying special attention to corners or other areas where you notice a lot of build up. You can also put a vacuum on a table and stretch a hose with brush attachment up to the ceiling and repeat the same process to suck out any dirt.
Dusting Your Ceiling
- Extendable duster
A duster can help keep your ceiling clean as well, though it won’t have the same degree of effectiveness as a vacuum or similarly powerful cleaning process. An extendable duster with a long arm can reach all the way up to the ceiling, sweeping across the entire surface in seconds. The thing with dusters is that they only catch loose dirt or dust, so stains that are set into the surface of your ceiling won’t be affected at all by the duster. Make sure you sweep or vacuum after your dust in order to pick up any remaining dust or dirt that you’ve dislodged from the ceiling.
Duct Taping Your Ceiling
- Duct Tape
Particularly challenging dirt or dust giving you a problem? You can clean out your popcorn ceiling far easier than you might think by reaching for another household staple: duct tape. Grab a strip of duct tape and a step ladder and get as close to the ceiling as you can. Carefully and precisely, apply a strip of duct tape to the ceiling and press in, being sure to leave a corner untucked so you have a grip on the surface to pull. Allow to rest for a minute, then pull. You’ll grab any floating dust and strip it right from the surface of the ceiling. You’ll want to be careful not to pull too hard or else risk taking off some paint on your ceiling, but in general this is a handy trick for stubborn dirt or dust traps that don’t seem to be leaving.
Washing Your Ceiling
- Dish Detergent
- Paint Roller
- Scrub Brush
If you have a popcorn ceiling in your kitchen, you might notice that oil and cooking stains have gathered on the kitchen ceiling over the years. No fears, though; you can wash your ceiling just like you might wash a floor. You’ll have to get creative to address the height disparity, however!
In order to thoroughly clean your popcorn ceiling, you’ll want to first mix a combination of dish detergent and warm soapy water together in a bucket. If there’s serious grease collecting, you can also add some vinegar to help cut through any build up. Dip a paint roller into the mixture and roll it over your ceiling, paying particular attention to stains or corners. You can also grab a scrub brush and do it by hand, but that’s best for only smaller or more stained areas versus trying to clean your entire surface.
Maintaining Your Ceiling
Keeping your ceiling clean over time is a good way to make sure you’re not sweating down the road to try to clean out a seriously dirty or damaged ceiling mess. You should start by dusting your ceiling at least once a week to keep stains from building up. Consider adding a hood or back splash to your kitchen to prevent cooking spills from spreading or staining up on the ceiling. You should wash your ceilings once every few months and spot treat any stains as soon as you notice them to help keep them from spreading.
Popcorn ceilings are not the easiest thing in the world to clean, but as a staple of your home it’s important to make sure you know how to clean popcorn ceilings so that they’re in pristine condition 24/7. Regular dusting, washing, and cleaning will help keep popcorn ceilings clean and dust-free, improving your health, happiness, and home appearance as well.