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This was a frustrating solution to figure out. I'm sharing it in hopes it will help someone. About a year ago we bought an older home that had popcorn ceilings throughout. I didn't notice until after moving in that there was dust stuck to every one of those stupid ridges; dust and years of what appeared to be cobwebs.
I first tried a regular duster. I didn't get much off there but I did get a mouthful of popcorn and a heck of a mess on the floor I do not recommend trying that method.
Second, I used duct tape to secure a swifter duster to a broom stick, again big mess in the floor, little (if any) dust removed from ceiling and little pieces of swifter duster stuck to the ridges in addition to the dust.
Ok, so this was beginning to drive me crazy. Over several months, I tried loads of different methods, failing each time until I decided I'd try one last thing before breaking down and scraping it smooth and painting.
So the solution is: Duct tape wrapped around a paint roller (wrong side out obviously). This worked like a charm!
It's easy, cheap and effective. I highly recommend trying it. You'll be happy knowing you finally cleaned the ceiling.
By Dana from Katy, Texas
Hi Dana, Thanks for the tip. I've tried it. The problem is, after rolling the roller a couple of times over an area of five feet long, the tape becomes full of scattered small grains, and I need to replace the tape again. I repeated the action many times in the same area, but never managed to do a "clean run" in the end. Did a small area for a whole afternoon, but dust and flakes are still falling every day. Perhaps I wasn't patient enough. Wondering if you and those who succeeded also needed to do many runs in the same area? Thanks, Robin
My popcorn ceilings may be old, but I still want them to be clean. They tend to collect dust and spiderwebs over time, and I've finally found a way to get them clean without much effort! Just use a new, thick-knapped paint roller, on an extension pole if possible. Dampen the roller with plain water (only slightly to avoid drips), and then just roll the surface as if you were painting, rinsing the roller as needed. If your ceiling is particularly dirty, you can add a small amount of vinegar or mild detergent to the water. This tip works very well, and you'll be done in no time!
Dear Spacecase- Great name! You're very welcome! This works great for me- I bought my new house (built in '76!) & the ceilings were a MESS! We've had a really bad year for dust in Oklahoma this year as well, & this has been both the easiest & fastest way to do the job well! Someone else commented on the dangers of asbestos in popcorn ceilings- while this is a very real concern when REMOVING popcorn texture, I personally don't agree that the very MINIMAL loss of a half-dozen pellets while cleaning the ceilings in this PARTICULAR way is detrimental to your health - in fact, filthy ceilings collecting dust and spiderwebs for years would be more of a health concern for me personally- but I'm not a Dr, so clean at your own risk - HAHAHAHA!- & enjoy those funny ceilings being clean! On a very serious note, though, I do KNOW that popcorn ceilings ARE a very SERIOUS health hazard DURING their actual removal or replacement- you can in fact do this task yourself with proper technique and equipment, such as top of the line respirators, etc- just be sure to research this carefully should you decide in the future to replace the texture. Some states have laws that a CERTIFIED removal service must be used...But I clean mine as described above, & so far, I'm not dead... tee-hee! Thank you, & enjoy!!
My bedroom ceiling is covered in popcorn coating. Each time I lay in bed, my focus was drawn to the dust hang off the popcorn. For me, that was bothersome as I am asthmatic. The other day it occurred to me that I could use compressed air to blow them off. You know, the stuff that you use to clean keyboards. So off to Walmart I went. I bought 2 cans of Ultra Duster for $4 per can. I was able to clean my ceiling within 30 minutes. Just be sure to cover your furniture with plastic and have the vaccum ready for cleanup.
I use the vacuum cleaner to clean mine. I use the hose with the brush attachment. That way, I don't have to deal with the dust falling.
Is there a easy way that you know of to clean and then paint my ugly textured ceilings? Or should I not clean them and just paint? We have a textured ceiling in our kitchen, and it had a lot of dirt and grease buildup (little fuzzies all over the ceiling).
I dust my popcorn ceiling by using a broom. Yes, it does cause some particles to fall but not if you dust/broom it lightly.
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I have dust from a ceiling fan on my popcorn ceiling. How do I clean it?
By rmewife from Enterprise, AL
I bought one of the new Swiffer dusters, the one with the handle that can be made longer. That works real well for cleaning my popcorn ceiling that gets dirty from ceiling fan. The handle isn't as long as I would like, but this duster goes over it so lightly it doesn't make the wonderful popcorn break off, and it gets rid of the dust. My ceiling was really bad and I had to use two of fluffy duster things to get the job done, but I am satisfied.
If you want to get rid of the popcorn ceiling altogether, find a person who knows how to skim coat and they'll make it disappear. We did that in my daughter's bathroom and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. For now, though, I'll have to continue vacuuming the ceiling in my room.
I don't know about other countries, but asbestos was banned in the USA in 1977. Popcorn ceilings continued to be popular in home building, however, bits of styrofoam instead of asbestos were used. So you needn't worry about asbestos unless your home was built prior to 1977.
We bought a home built in 1992 that has popcorn ceilings throughout. They are a terrible pain to clean and seem to collect every bit of dust in the air.
I use one of those fluffy long-handled dusters to do iit but still manage to knock down "popcorn bits" every time.
Use a broom with a soft cloth secured over the bristles and gently brush the debris away. If you don't know the age of the popcorn ceiling be sure to wear a mask because the popcorn ceilings installed prior to the 1980's more than likely contain asbestos. Also be sure to clean up all droppings right after wiping the ceiling that might have fallen and wash the cloth used.
How do you clean popcorn ceilings? Mine have black, sooty stains right near the heat registers. Thanks.
By Dodie from Winston Salem, NC
If you have a canister style vacuum cleaner, use the long hose attachment with the brush on the end of it. Brush over the ceiling very lightly with the brush and vacuum it. You may need a step ladder too.
I have used a couple of things: a long handled "fluffy" duster and a broom to which I have attached a damp cloth. I brush over the ceiling gently, some of the little white bumps come off, but it's easier for me than using a vacuum.
To get rid of a stain on a popcorn ceiling I was once advised to put some hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and spray the stain. I let it dry and then tried it again. It did take the two applications, but it worked for me. I don't know about soot, though. It's worth a try!
Unless you know that your popcorn ceiling is asbestos free, you should not disturb it. Asbestos can cause serious health damage, cancer and possibly death. Many popcorn ceilings contain asbestos.
My son let a candle burn down to the smoking point in his room with the ceiling fan on that sprayed black soot all over the room. It is on the walls, drapes, lamp shades and worst of all the popcorn ceiling! How do I cleaning the ceiling without spreading it all over?
By Liz from Maitland, FL
Dust around the fans and ceiling vents with a dry paint brush or feather duster. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to carefully clean the larger areas. Never scrub with a cloth as this can break free bits of the plaster.
It is a labor intensive job, but easily accomplished when done as outlined above. Once or twice a year should keep them dust and cobweb free, I didn't do it more often than that, life's too short!
If your ceilings are discolored from cooking or cigarette smoke, they can be painted. One coat of Kilz brand primer paint will insure that stains don't bleed through. Allow to dry completely before applying a coat of white ceiling paint. It will make a wonderful difference in the look and smell of the house.
Using drop cloths and a sprayer will stop the plaster from moving around when it's wet. If you have to use a brush or thick roller, make sure that the ceiling dries completely between coats. It is very important that the plaster not be disturbed when it softens!
Many popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them. It is not good to disturb them at all. It is recommended that you have a small piece of the ceiling tested for asbestos befoe painting, cleaning etc.
From Wikipedia:Some popcorn ceiling textures were created using a paper based or Styrofoam product to create the texture, rather than asbestos. Nevertheless, when asbestos was banned in ceiling treatments in 1977, popcorn ceilings fell out of favor. Fashions changed to more natural and handmade finishes. Popcorn ceilings become unattractive when they get dirty, are easily damaged, and are hard to clean, repaint, or repair. They can be easily, if messily, removed by spraying them with water to soften them up, and scraping the material off with a large scraping trowel or putty knife.  If they may have been applied before the ban on asbestos, their removal should only be done by a licensed professional or after testing to rule out asbestos contamination.
The very best way to clean a sooted/cigarette smoke stained popcorn ceiling is to buy 3 or 6% hydrogen peroxide, put in a spray bottle and spray the ceiling, the peroxide oxidizes the yellow stain and/or soot stain which will disappear when the ceiling dries.
A strong word of caution: You must protect your eyes while doing this. Using safety goggles is a must. Also protect any wood surfaces and wipe down any walls that are spattered with a damp cloth.
Spectrum cleaner is the only know product on the market that will make your ceilings sparkle again. However, I have used straight H2O2 and the ceilings came out fine.
Definitely have to agree with Kathleen. Best run on a stron , non- particle falling ceiling, is a good vacuum cleaner with a soft brush...just for starters. Painting? There are so many incredible paints out there for a price but less spendy than hiring on (if you have the energy to do it).
And considering maybe less one room but many and several, then it might be a good idea to check your local university/college students job requests...or call the university/college. Get a website, post within the university (etc) or simply call the the student employment bank and tell them what you require and leave your telephone number and other specs.
You'd be surprised at the return calls you get from just one learning institute. You can negotiate with each individual that calls you. Simple and easy. (Learn their needs and know your negotiating skills). While you are working on other things (like making them a real good home-cooked meal and helping the promise of a good future). You will also have the sincere and devoted will of great kids who will come back for you and pretty much help you with anything.
As Kathleen mentioned, and quite astutely, there are many ways to DIY it. Yet life does throw us curves and when it does. There's nothing like helping out a student in need. Most of us have had a financial walk-through in our U or collegiate days. Now it's rough stuff money-wise for these up and coming young folk, and it sure feels good to help out on that measure.
It's just a simple opinion on an alternative to DYI-ing it alone, and I know, because I hired these great workers before and worked along side them...'till they were so interested in their work because home-meals counted for a lot.
A total win-win: they got paid and even brought home-meals back to the dorm for themselves and their special buddies. That's my alternative when the DIY get's out of hand. An a great alternative for our future mind's and they truly are the best. Just don't let any one of them take on your washing...because you're hubby will be wearing 'pink' underwear for a time and a bit! :)! They do get rather ambitious at trying to help especially when you may be out of the house! Hey, Just one G'ma's opinion and I stickin' to it because, as a widow now, sure is great to help the youngsters out in tough times!
I have a Spackled dry wall ceiling and it is stained yellow. How do I clean off the ceiling without damaging the Spackle?
William from southwest MI
Use a stain blocking primer like kilz or sherwin williams, then paint it!
you will need more than 1 coat of paint
50/50 solution, water and bleach, spray it on. Ceiling come up white as snow.