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Old 05-01-2009, 10:27 PM   #1
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Cleaning dirty ceiling


I started to clean the ceiling in one room in preparation for painting. The paint on the ceiling is white, but it looks light brown or pale yellow right now. I took a clean mop and used hot water and dawn dishwashing liquid to try to clean the ceiling. It seems to help a little, but it also seems like I am just pushing the dirt around. It's better then when I started, but still dirty.

Is there a good way to clean the ceiling and get the stuff off? I'm guessing some of it is from cigarette smoke (previous owner).

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Old 05-01-2009, 11:28 PM   #2
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You are probably just pushing the dirt around. You need a better product and technique.

See if you can get some TSP in your state. If not, go to big box store or paint store and get whatever 'Green' alternative. Get a pile of rags, ladder and two buckets. Mix the TSP in HOT water (see box for amounts) in one bucket - use this for 'Wash' (Rubber Gloves for sensitive skin). Fill the other bucket with just HOT water - use this for 'Rinse'. Use a damp (not sopping) washrag until it looks soiled then drop it in the rinse bucket. The TSP may remove poorly applied paint. But, since you're getting ready to paint again, no problem. Try a small area and see if it helps with the tobbaccy stains.

Rinse it thoroughly before cycling it back to your 'Wash' bucket. Change your rinse water as needed.

I have 12 rags just for this sort of thing - that way I'm not spending all my time wringing the dirt out of them.

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Old 05-01-2009, 11:31 PM   #3
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Cleaning dirty ceiling


Smoke will basically set into the paint, especially flat paint and there isn't a whole lot you can do with it. Depending on how bad it is, you may just be able to paint over it and be done with it without any bleeding through. If it's bad, then latex primer will keep it at bay for a number of years. Bin will lock it in for eternity but it's nasty stuff to paint with.
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:40 PM   #4
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Thanks. I was thinking their was a product I had heard of that was worth a try but couldn't remember the name. TSP is it.
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:47 PM   #5
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Trisodium Phosphate - TSP. It's a non-sudsing detergent/degreaser - like soap without the bubbles. Check the label when you buy it. Many states only sell TSP substitutes (sodium carbonate (washing soda) or combinations thereof cause, well we probably shouldn't dump phosphates into the water supply).

TSP can corrode and stain exposed metal, so use care when using it. It does not irritate my skin, but my sister gets a chemical burn from it. Don't rub it in your eyes, OK?

Aside - some states are outlawing dishwasher detergent that contains phosphates too.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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Thanks Leah, that did the job.

It's probably psychological, but the room seems a little brighter with the ceilings being clean.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:29 PM   #7
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Thanks Leah, that did the job.

It's probably psychological, but the room seems a little brighter with the ceilings being clean.

You should think about just priming and re-coating the ceiling. This way you can always touch it up if something gets on it that will not come off through cleaning.

If you want more of a psychological twist, paint the ceiling with a low lustre finish. It will make the room look bigger due to the light reflection of the shinier finish.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:40 PM   #8
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I've still got some patching to do on a wall in that room that will need to be primed. I can prime the ceiling when I do the wall. I'm going to be using BM paints on the various rooms and was planning on using BM Muresco on the ceilings.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:46 PM   #9
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I've still got some patching to do on a wall in that room that will need to be primed. I can prime the ceiling when I do the wall. I'm going to be using BM paints on the various rooms and was planning on using BM Muresco on the ceilings.
My family has used BM for over 50 years. My Grandpa was best friends from a old SW rep back since the 40's and when he decided to open his own franchise Papa switched over.


What kind of condition are the walls in now?
What types of walls are you going to be painting.
How long do you plan on living in the home.
Are you prone to change colors often?

This will give me a bit of a background to help you chose the correct products.
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Old 05-02-2009, 11:08 PM   #10
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The walls seem in pretty good shape. Just going to be patching about 15 holes, about 3/8" diameter. Previous owner loved those expanding wall anchors. I was told the walls are plaster, from behind there aren't any slats, but where the trim was removed it doesn't look like dry wall joint compound. Currently they are painted with latex with the paint holding, but lots of drips. Plan to live in the house for a long time and to repaint only when necessary.
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Old 05-02-2009, 11:17 PM   #11
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The walls seem in pretty good shape. Just going to be patching about 15 holes, about 3/8" diameter. Previous owner loved those expanding wall anchors. I was told the walls are plaster, from behind there aren't any slats, but where the trim was removed it doesn't look like dry wall joint compound. Currently they are painted with latex with the paint holding, but lots of drips. Plan to live in the house for a long time and to repaint only when necessary.

If you are going to live in it for a long time I would do it right.

You actually could add a venetian plaster to it for a cool texure or rent a hopper to add a texture. Its hard to answer without some pics because I am a stickler for proper prep. If you could get some photos to show me so I could get a better grasp.

When you mentioned drips that brings nightmares to me of some houses where the homeowner explained there were drips only to come evaluate her home and find out the walls looked more like bark from a tree than the smooth appearance it was meant to have. I asked her about the texture and when she asked "What Texture" I about fell over. She thought that was normal which shows that you should always consult a pro even if you plan on doing the work yourself.

Get those pics to me if you can.
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Old 05-02-2009, 11:26 PM   #12
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By lots I don't mean so many you walk in and spot them immediately. Just enough to bother me. Course I'm fixing stuff before I move in so I'm being picky.

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