How To Clean Popcorn Ceiling: Simplified Guide

How To Clean Popcorn Ceiling
How To Clean Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are still popular in many homes because of their attractive appearance and cost-effectiveness. Since the 1950s, popcorn ceilings have been popular, and many individuals still use them. Some folks have kept their ancient popcorn ceilings because they don’t want to spend money on them. This post has answered all of your questions about how to clean the popcorn ceiling of dust, stains, and mold before painting it. You will also be aware of the cleaning equipment required to complete this task.

Popcorn ceilings are difficult to clean for a variety of reasons. The fragile bumps on the ceiling surface are readily knocked down. Because they are unfamiliar with appropriate cleaning methods, many consumers cause damage to their popcorn ceilings. Before painting, here’s how to clean popcorn ceiling dust, stains, and mold. Continue reading to learn how to clean popcorn ceiling dust in the best way possible.

Preparing to Clean a Popcorn Ceiling

There are a few things to bear in mind before you begin. First and foremost, the materials used to make popcorn ceilings frequently contained asbestos before it was outlawed as a recognized carcinogen in the United States. While asbestos-free ceilings should be used in homes built after 1978, it was not uncommon for suppliers to sell the stock they had on hand, asbestos or not, far into the 1980s. Consider having your ceiling tested for asbestos before attempting to clean it if your home was built during this period. At the absolute least, exercise extra caution because asbestos fibers released into the air can cause major health problems.

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If you’ve ever lived in a house with popcorn ceilings, you’ve probably seen how readily the rough bumps fall off when disturbed. Whether you’re cleaning your acoustic ceiling to remove dust and cobwebs or removing grease, smoke, or other set-in stains, you’ll want to be careful not to shower anything below with stray particles. To make cleanup easier, move furniture or cover it with plastic sheets or drop cloths. Wearing a dust mask and safety glasses to protect your eyes and lungs from any particles is also a good idea.

How to Clean Popcorn Ceiling Dust

You must first check that the popcorn ceiling is asbestos-free before cleaning it. Asbestos is a dangerous substance that can harm your health. In the 1980s, the US government outlawed it. If your home is older, you may need to seek expert assistance or take additional safety precautions before cleaning.

You can clean the popcorn ceiling using the following procedures if your final goal is to eliminate all dust and cobwebs. Here’s how to clean the dust off your popcorn ceiling, thoroughly clean it, and make it seem brand new again.

Step 1: Prepare the space as well as yourself.

  • Begin by preparing the space. Aside from all the dust and debris that will fall from the ceiling, bits of the “popcorn” may also fall.
  • Use drop cloths or a plastic tarp to cover the entire room, including the furniture and the floor.
  • Next, gather all of your equipment and materials in one place so they’re easy to find. A vacuum or broom, a lint roller, cleaning solution spray bottles, sponges, fans, a stepladder, and maybe primer and paint are all necessary tools.
  • Finally, make sure you’re well covered. To protect yourself from cleaning fluid and falling debris, put on a face mask, goggles, and gloves.

Step 2: Dust and cobwebs must be removed.

  • Use a vacuum with the biggest brush attachment to gently remove dust and cobwebs from the ceiling’s surface. Instead, sweep the dust onto the covered floor with a soft-bristled broom or feather duster.
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Try dragging a lint roller over any obstinate particles stuck in the grooves of the uneven surface to pick them up.

Step 3: Thoroughly clean any stained areas.

Water, mildew, smoke, or grease can all cause stains on the ceiling. You’ll need to use a liquid cleaning solution to clean these places.

Begin by testing the solution on a small section of the ceiling to ensure that it works well and does not damage the surface. Because popcorn ceilings don’t like moisture, test a tiny section of the ceiling with the cleaning fluid before tackling the whole thing.

For smoke, water, or mildew stains, use:

  • In a spray bottle, combine one part bleach and four parts water.
  • Mist the stained area with water and lightly dab it with a sponge, then wait a few hours to see if the stain disappears. If it doesn’t, fill the spray bottle with more bleach and try again in a different region until the solution appears to be successful.
  • Don’t overwet the ceiling or it will start to deteriorate.
  • Allow it to dry overnight with the windows open for ventilation and fans blowing to speed up the drying process.

To remove grease stains, follow these steps:

  • In a spray bottle, combine one-quart warm water and one teaspoon of liquid dish soap.
  • Lightly spritz the stain with the mixture, then dab at it with a sponge, being careful not to get the ceiling too wet.
  • Allow drying overnight in a room with fans blowing.

Step 4: Cover any difficult places with paint.

Cleaning solutions may not be able to remove some stains.

  • If that’s the case, consider painting over the discoloration.
  • Use a stain-blocking oil primer, then two coats of flat ceiling paint in the same color as your ceiling.

How To Clean Popcorn Ceiling Before Painting

When trying to clean the popcorn ceiling before painting, be as careful as possible to avoid damage. Most ceilings will require minor sanding and, if there is any damage or holes, fixing. Warm water and liquid dish soap can be added to the first choice. The ceiling cleaning solution can be applied with a firm and smooth paint roller or sponge. Because you will remove extra liquid before application, apply the roller or sponge only in a moist, cold area to avoid any harm to the texture.

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How To Clean Popcorn Ceiling Stains

Popcorn ceilings attract stains from debris such as grease, mildew, and cigarette smoke, rendering a dazzling white surface drab and discolored. It might be difficult, but not impossible, to clean popcorn ceiling stains. Start by dusting the ceiling with one of the aforementioned procedures before attempting any of these treatments. Next, test your chosen solution on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t damage or dissolve the texture, as texturizing compounds can be sensitive to water.

Option 1: Liquid dish soap and warm water. This mixture can be used to remove common stains such as cooking oil or cigarette smoke.

Apply the cleaning solution to the ceiling with a soft, thick-nap paint roller or a soft sponge. To avoid any unwanted texture damage, make sure to squeeze out excess moisture before applying—your roller or sponge should only be damp, not dripping. As you continue, keep rinsing the roller or sponge. You might also apply the solution with a misting spray bottle if you want, but be careful not to saturate the ceiling with moisture.

Option 2: Bleach and water. Mix one part of water with one part of bleach to remove mildew or water stains.

Fill a misting spray bottle halfway with the bleach solution and mist the stains lightly. Make sure you’re wearing your safety glasses for this one! Allow for total air drying of the ceiling. If the stain still exists after the area has dried, repeat the process. Before re-treating, make sure the area is completely dry, as dampness can harm popcorn ceilings.

Option 3: Paint. Set-in stains can be covered with an oil-based stain-blocking primer and acrylic paint.

Because popcorn ceilings are so sensitive to moisture, painting the ceiling can sometimes be the most effective approach to brighten it and remove stains. This can also assist prevent potential moisture damage to the textured ceiling. To acquire the best coverage with the least amount of damage, use a soft, thick-nap paint roller (34 in. or more is preferable) or a paint sprayer. Remember that the popcorn texture adds surface area (as well as acoustic and sound-dampening effects), so you’ll need more paint than you think.

How To Clean Popcorn Ceiling Mold

It’s a good idea to figure out what created the mold in the first place before treating it. Otherwise, it will just keep coming back. Mold and mildew are frequently found in places with poor ventilation and excessive humidity. In a room with high humidity, opening a window or using a portable fan can assist circulate the air. Mold can also be treated using an antifungal cleaning spray.

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Mold can hide on a popcorn ceiling’s rough surface, making it difficult to clean. If the issue is severe, it’s time to hire a specialist. Otherwise, apply a fungicidal cleaning with a spray bottle. The spray will assist in getting into all of the nooks and crannies. To effectively treat the mold, you may require many applications. During treatment, make sure the room is sufficiently ventilated and use a mask or respirator.

What tools do you need to clean a popcorn ceiling from dust, stains, and mold before painting?

These are the items you’ll likely need, depending on the cleaning approach you choose for your popcorn ceiling:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • A vacuum cleaner, a soft-bristled brush, or a feather duster are all good options.
  • Soap for dishes
  • vinegar (white)
  • hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 3%
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bottle for spraying
  • Cloth made of microfiber
  • Stepladder


It’s difficult, but not impossible, to clean a popcorn ceiling of dust, stains, and mold before painting it. Clean your ceilings once or twice a year, or more frequently if there is a lot of dust or stains. Include popcorn ceiling cleaning in your spring cleaning regimen to enjoy bright, airy spaces all year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a dirty textured ceiling?

Start by pre-treating stains with hydrogen peroxide, then removing the grime with a clean paint roller moistened with soap and water. Scrub away any deposits or stains with a sponge before moving on to the next section.

Does popcorn ceiling have asbestos?

Asbestos is commonly found in popcorn ceilings, ranging from 1% to 10%. While 1% may seem like a little, any amount of asbestos in a popcorn ceiling should be handled.

How do you remove cigarette smoke from popcorn ceiling?

How to Clean Cigarette Smoke From Popcorn Ceiling

  • Straight hydrogen peroxide should be poured into a spray bottle.
  • The smoke stain should be sprayed.
  • Allow time for it to dry.
  • As needed, repeat the process.

How do you remove black mold from popcorn ceiling?

Pour distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle to get rid of black mold on the ceiling. Spray the liquid over the surface and let it sit for one hour. Then use the brush to scrub it clean.

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