Ceiling Cleaning: How to Clean a Ceiling

ceiling cleaning

Arbor & Co

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hr - 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr - 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10-15

Cleaning your ceiling is no small feat, but it can be a necessary task to undertake. However, it doesn't need to be such a chore—with the help of some of our favorite tips and tricks, learn how to clean your ceiling thoroughly and efficiently, and learn how to keep it clean longer.

How Often to Clean a Ceiling

Thankfully, ceiling cleaning doesn't need to happen very often. The everyday wear and tear that our homes receive has a hard time getting to the ceiling, keeping them fairly clean for quite a while. (Popcorn ceilings are a different story—learn how to clean them here.) Consider cleaning your ceilings every other year, or when you move out or move into a new place. To keep your ceilings clean longer, scroll to the end of this article.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Duster with extendable handle
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Paint roller
  • Spray bottle
  • Mop (optional)


  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Melamine sponge (optional)
  • Grease cleaner (optional)
  • Bleach (optional)


How to Clean a Ceiling

  1. Vacuum Or Dust The Ceiling

    After you've gathered all the supplies you'll need to clean your ceiling, begin by removing dust and surface-level dirt from it. This can be done with either a long-armed duster that can easily reach the ceiling or your vacuum's hose and brush attachment. Either way, dust or vacuum the ceiling in slow, long strokes, working from one side to the other.

  2. Clean Corners and Molding

    Next, pay special attention to corners and the area around any molding or trim where dust can easily build up over time. Use a dry microfiber cloth to carefully dust and wipe the area, making sure you wipe away as much dust as you can, as stuck-on dust will only get spread around the entire ceiling in the next step.

  3. Create Your Cleaning Mixture

    The best cleaning mixture for your ceiling involves the cleaning solution superstar—vinegar! Mix together 2 cups of warm water, a 1/4 cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap, then pour into an empty spray bottle.

  4. 04 Spray and Roll Cleaning Mixture On

    Once your cleaning solution is good to go, spray it across the ceiling, taking care not to miss any patches. The mixture will need to be thoroughly applied without soaking the ceiling, as this can leave water damage and make your ceiling look worse than when you started!

    Next, take a clean and damp paint roller with an extendable arm and roll it across the ceiling. Work slowly and evenly, as this will act as some gentle scrubbing and agitation for the cleaning mixture.

  5. Dry Your Ceilings

    Break out a few more clean microfiber cloths and get to work drying your freshly-cleaned ceiling. Gently dab the cloth up and down the ceiling, letting it absorb any excess liquid from the cleaning mixture.


    Sore arms from holding them up to pat the ceiling dry? Try placing a clean cloth on the base of a floor mop like a Swiffer. Then, hold the upside-down mop above you, and use it to pat the ceiling dry.

  6. Treat Problem Spots

    Once your ceiling has been cleaned, look for any problem spots that are still around. Here's how to clean any leftover stains you've got.

    • Soot stains: Use a melamine sponge like a Magic Eraser to clean small soot stains. Dampen the sponge and put some elbow grease into it for your best chance of removing the soot stain.
    • Grease stains: Use a specific grease-fighting cleaner to remove lingering grease stains, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Water stains: Combine 9 parts water with 1 part bleach in a spray bottle. Spray the solution, let dry, then repeat 3 to 4 times or until the stain disappears.

    Tips to Keep Your Ceiling Clean Longer

    After all the hard work of cleaning your ceiling is done, help it to stay clean longer by following these tips.

    • Regularly dust the corners of your ceiling where dust and dirt can easily build up. Consider doing this monthly with a quick pass of the duster.
    • Don't forget to use your range hood to suck away excess grease and moisture in the kitchen.
    • Treat small stains quickly to prevent them from becoming a more difficult stain later on.