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How to Clean a Popcorn Ceiling: A Quick Guide

Popcorn ceilings have been around since before the 1970s, and while many choose to remove them, others have embraced their throwback style. These types of ceilings can be a terrific aesthetic for the right kind of decor, but what happens when it’s time to clean it?

Because of their textured appearance, also earning them the name “stipple ceiling,” they can harbor a lot of dust and allergens. These particles are repeatedly reintroduced to the air and can cause health issues over time.

If you have a popcorn ceiling and want to know how to clean it, then keep reading as we take you through this popcorn ceiling cleaning guide.

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling?

Popcorn ceilings came about around somewhere between the 1930s and the 1950s. They’re known by a few names, such as “acoustic,” “cottage cheese,” and “stipple.” The surface texture is achieved by applying spray-on or paint-on treatments.

This treatment application creates the texture by using tiny polystyrene particles, cardboard fiber, styrofoam, or vermiculite.

This ceiling was most commonly applied in bedrooms and hallways and was noted for its sound-deadening properties and its ability to hide any imperfections that may be present.

Important Note: Originally, asbestos was used to create the stippled texture, but due to its serious health risks, led to its banning in 1978. However, despite manufacturers switching to other materials after the ban, suppliers continued to sell their existing stock of asbestos-laced material to avoid losing money.

So, if your popcorn ceiling was installed during or before the 1980s, you might want to consider testing for asbestos for good measure.

Popcorn Ceiling Cleaning Explained

If you don’t have a stippled ceiling, then you might not know just how much dust and dirt this type of ceiling gathers. Due to its stippled texture, this type of ceiling gathers dust in all the ridges, nooks, and crannies, causing the ceiling to look shadowed, dull, and dirty.

Dust can accumulate quite rapidly and can trigger or exacerbate allergies. Multiply the dust by all the rooms with popcorn ceilings, and you can see it’s not ideal for one’s health.

How to Clean a Popcorn Ceiling

When you’re ready for a significant task ahead of you, it’s time to begin. Let’s review the process step by step.

Step 1: Gather and Prep

First, gather the appropriate supplies. For both light and deep cleaning, you will need:

  • Personal protective gear (face mask, gloves, and goggles)
  • Vacuum
  • Broom
  • Lint roller
  • Spray bottles filled with cleaning solutions
  • Sponges
  • Fans
  • Stepladder
  • Paint

Next, you will want to prepare the room for the cleaning. Start by covering the floors and furniture with a protective covering, like a drop cloth. This is to catch any dust and debris that might fall as you’re cleaning. Depending on the condition and age of the stippling, some of the texture may crumble off as well.

Step Two: Dust and Sweep

Using a combination of a vacuum, broom, feather duster, or lint roller, begin step two. If you have cobwebs or visible dust in the corners of the room, use a vacuum to suck up what you can reach. Use the stepladder if necessary to reach the hard-to-reach spots, and don’t forget to use a brush attachment to protect the texture of your popcorn ceiling.

A lint roller can help with smaller, more stubborn areas.

Step Three: Deep Cleaning

If your stippled ceiling has any stains, this could be from several causes: mildew, smoke, grease, or water. This is when you need to deep clean your ceiling.

For light stains (smoke, water, mildew), use a cleaning solution that is one part bleach and four parts water. Lightly spray the affected area and gently clean it with a sponge. You want to take care to dab instead of rub, as the texture may become compromised and disintegrate. Leave it to work for a few hours and repeat if necessary.

Using fans, leave it to dry overnight. It’s also recommended to keep the area well-ventilated by opening any windows.

For heavier, grease-like stains, use a cleaning solution that is one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid to one quart warm water. Follow the same method as you do for light stains by dabbing gently. But, again, take care not to get the stipple too wet.

Let it dry overnight and open some windows.

Repeat those two methods once or twice, and then finish the job by painting over any stains that the solution couldn’t remove.

Six Quick Popcorn Ceiling Cleaning Tips

When it comes to popcorn ceiling cleaning advice, we’ve got you covered. When tackling this laborious task, consider these six tips:

  1. Use a lint roller with a 3-foot extendable pole to reach low ceilings without using a ladder
  2. Wrap a clean paint roller with duct tape, leaving the sticky side on the outside, and use this to collect dust
  3. Take care not to get your popcorn ceiling wet, as that can cause the textured parts to disintegrate
  4. Stains that have already set in can be covered with acrylic paint and stain-blocking primer
  5. Buy a little more than you think you need, as the stippled texture adds surface area, which will use more paint
  6. Have your ceiling tested for asbestos before beginning any cleaning, as you might have to call in professionals

We hope that those few tips make your popcorn ceiling cleaning easier. Remember: work smarter, not harder.

Consider Expert Cleaners

Cleaning a popcorn ceiling can be a significant task, but if you’re prepared, the job can go quite smoothly. It just takes a bit of firm but gentle elbow grease.

However, if you neither have the time nor the inclination to DIY your popcorn ceiling cleaning, consider Val’s Cleaning Maids. We offer comprehensive cleaning services and have over 15 years in customer service. Contact us today to request a free estimate or to schedule an appointment.