How to Clean Ceiling Surfaces

by Roger McFadden
Technical Director
Coastwide Laboratories

The ceiling in a room is frequently overlooked. It is difficult to reach and awkward to clean. Many ceiling surfaces are washable.

ACOUSTICAL TILE

VINYL COATED CEILING TILE

Vinyl coated acoustical tiles can be washed with an all-purpose cleaner solution like Coastwide Laboratories’ ORANGE CLEANTM mixed at 4 ounces per gallon of water and applied with a soft natural sponge.

NON-COATED CEILING TILE

Non-coated ceiling tiles generally are not washable and can be spot cleaned using a product like ABSORENE, a soft solid substance that resembles modeling clay. When an overall cleaning of the non-coated ceiling tile is needed, an application of special acoustical tile paint is recommended to cover up the unsightly marks and dirt.

SPRAY-ON ACOUSTICAL FINISH

This rough, sound-absorbing finished ceiling can be cleaned using a vacuum equipped with a soft brush attachment. The vacuuming can be followed by a respray of the finish.  

PAINTED CEILINGS

There are two primary types of ceiling paint. The most commonly used is latex or water base, which is easy to wash after it has cured. The other type is alkyd or oil base, which is durable, but is more difficult to clean. Vinyl coated acoustical tiles can be washed with an all-purpose cleaner solution like Coastwide Laboratories’ MAGNUMTM mixed at 4 ounces per gallon of water and applied with a cloth or sponge.

 PAPERED CEILINGS

Ceilings covered with wall coverings like paper, vinyl-coated paper or vinyl cloth are all cleaned with special cleaning techniques. Typically, liquids should not be used on these surfaces. You can successfully remove smudges, fingermarks and pencil marks from these surfaces by very gently rubbing the marks with an artgum eraser. Cornstarch can be used to absorb grease from these paper and paper-like wall coverings.

Tips for Cleaning Ceilings

  1. Protect furniture, fixtures and floors with drop cloths or newspaper.
  2. Use a long handled device when possible to prevent using a ladder or stepping stool.
  3. Wash ceilings before cleaning walls and floors to prevent soils from falling on them.
  4. Remove cobwebs from ceilings with a long handled wool duster or vacuum brush.
  5. Wear rubber gloves with cuffs when using liquid cleaning products on ceilings.
  6. Wear goggles or eye protection when cleaning ceilings.
  7. DO NOT allow drips to run down walls.
  8. DO NOT allow water or cleaning agents to drip onto furniture, fixtures or floors.
  9. DO NOT rub cobwebs onto ceilings. They will leave an ugly mark or smear.