How to Clean Popcorn Ceilings: Quick & Simple Tips

We've got you covered with an easy process that uses basic tools to clean and get dust off your popcorn ceiling.

Updated October 2, 2023
woman holding mop pile, cleaning ceiling in living room

Popcorn ceilings are everywhere, but cleaning them can feel a little intimidating. Don't stress, though. We've got everything you need to learn how to clean a popcorn ceiling using simple steps.

These tips and tricks will help you tackle anything from grease to smoke stains on your popcorn ceiling, plus all the hacks you need to keep your ceiling clean and dust-free going forward. Grab your duster and a few simple supplies, and let's get started.

How to Clean a Popcorn Ceiling - Regular Maintenance

If your popcorn ceilings are looking dingy or dirty, it's time for some regular cleaning maintenance. These textured ceilings are great at one thing: catching dust. They're a little fragile and tricky to clean, though. Knowing how to get dust off a popcorn ceiling without making a mess is all about having a delicate touch and the right tools.

You'll need a cobweb duster, soft-bristle brush, or a soft brush attachment for your vacuum. Even though this is the gentlest way to clean a popcorn ceiling, you may still get a few particles that fall down. If you're worried about furniture, take a sec to cover it with an old sheet or dropcloth.

Quick Tip

If you have a high ceiling, you need to have a long attachment on your vacuum or a very long painter's pole. Measure the length you need before you start to clean your popcorn ceiling so you don't have to stop in the middle of the project.

  1. Attach the duster to the painter's pole if you're using it. Otherwise, put the brush attachment on your vacuum and extend it as far as you need.
  2. Gently sweep the duster or brush attachment over the ceiling, working slowly and starting in the corners.
  3. Keep working in small areas, ensuring the ceiling is completely clean before moving to the next.
Need to Know

Before you go messing around with your popcorn ceiling, think about the date of your house. Prior to 1979, popcorn ceilings contained asbestos, which is dangerous. If you're not sure, take the time to have your popcorn ceiling tested for asbestos.

How to Remove Stains From a Popcorn Ceiling

Once you know how to get dust from a popcorn ceiling, it's time to move on to stains. Stains on your ceiling can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the part of your house and the source of the damage.

Quick Tip

Most popcorn ceiling stain-removal methods involve water or other liquids, but before you go spraying water on your ceiling, you need to make sure it can handle it. Check by spraying a small section to make sure it doesn't cause any issues.

Remove Grease Stains From Popcorn Ceiling

Grease stains are some of the most common types, especially in the kitchen. You'll need Dawn dish soap, a spray bottle, water, and a microfiber cloth.

  1. Fill a large spray bottle with warm water and three to four drops of Dawn.
  2. Shake it up.
  3. Carefully spray the area with a light mist.
  4. Dab at the grease with the microfiber cloth.
  5. Allow it to dry for several hours.

Remove Water Stains and Mold From Popcorn Ceiling

If you had a roof leak, you'd notice yellow stains on your ceiling. These stains might have even caused mold and mildew to form. To remove these, you need to grab the bleach. You'll also need water and a spray bottle.

  1. Mix three tablespoons of bleach to one cup of warm water in the spray bottle.
  2. Mist the mixture on the stain. (The key is to give it a light mist.)
  3. Allow the ceiling to completely dry.
  4. If the stain is still lingering, add more bleach to the solution and try again.
Need to Know

Bleach is an irritant. When cleaning your popcorn ceiling the bleach, use a mouth covering and wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Clean Cigarette Smoke From Popcorn Ceiling

If you were a smoker or a smoker lived in your house, you might have nicotine and smoke stains on your popcorn ceiling. You can try the bleach solution to see if that lifts the stain. However, you might also try hydrogen peroxide. Use a mouth covering and goggles just like with the bleach.

  1. Fill a spray bottle with straight hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Mist the smoke stain.
  3. Allow it to dry.
  4. Repeat as needed.

How to Get Your Popcorn Ceiling White Again

woman with cleaning supplies

Sometimes, even when your popcorn ceiling is clean, it isn't exactly white. We're not talking stains or spots in certain areas of your home. This is more an overall issue that can happen with age.

For this, you should lightly mist the entire ceiling with a bleach solution. It's just like spot-cleaning the ceiling, but it's for the entire thing. Make sure you have the windows open for ventilation. It's important to clean the ceiling evenly and methodically, so you don't miss any spots (you don't want random yellow patches where you didn't spray it). Work in sections and don't get anything too wet.

Clean a Popcorn Ceiling Perfectly

Popcorn ceilings can be a bit of a bear to tackle, but that doesn't mean they have to be dirty. There are lots of different ways for you to rid your popcorn ceiling of any stain, so roll up your sleeves and get in there. It's going to look so much better!

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How to Clean Popcorn Ceilings: Quick & Simple Tips