Can You Steam Clean Painted Walls

When you have a steam cleaner, it becomes something of a magical experience. You can disinfect and get deep down dirt out of many surfaces around the house. It’s quick, easy and a more natural method of cleaning. This can be a lifesaver for those with allergies or sensitivities to harsh chemicals found in commercial cleaning products.

But can you steam clean painted walls? No, do not use a steam cleaner on painted walls. Unfortunately, the paint is heat sensitive. Therefore, if you steam clean them, the surface of the paint will begin lifting away. And certainly, that’s not anything you want.

Is It Possible to Use a Steam Cleaner on Painted Walls?

Most paints in the house are water-based latex types. While they make an excellent waterproof surface, they cannot withstand the heat that steam cleaners put out. This will ruin the appearance with bubbles, chips and peels. Not only will it look unsightly, it will ruin all the hard work you put into it (or the job you paid for).

Discoloration ; Dripping

What’s more, you’ll cause the pain to discolor with the potential for a dripping look on the walls. Now, unless you want to go for that kind of appearance in the hopes of creating an atmosphere to that of a horror movie, go for it! Otherwise, it isn’t advisable if you wish to keep the paint pristine.

That said, there are some oil-based paints that can tolerate the heavy-duty action of a steam cleaner. But most people don’t use these in their home because of how long it takes to dry and set. But, if you have oil-based paint, you can test the steam cleaner on a small patch and see how it does.

What Can Surfaces Can Tolerate a Steam Clean?

Even though you can’t use a steam cleaner on a painted wall, there are a host of other surfaces that make it worth the investment. The following are some of the most appropriate areas for using a steam cleaner that will be safe:

  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Wood
  • Drywall
  • Fabrics
  • Flooring
  • Carpeting
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • Tile ; Grout
  • Marble
  • Granite
  • Unpainted Metal

What Other Things Shouldn’t You Steam Clean?

You shouldn’t use a steam cleaner on anything that’s sensitive to heat. This includes things like wood paneling, unfinished wood surfaces, wallpapered walls, silk, thin plastics and certain delicate velour upholstery. If you want to do things like window blinds or antique upholstery, this is going to be up to your discretion and judgment.

Testing a Surface for Safety

To ensure the surface you intend to steam clean can handle the intensity, do a small test patch on an inconspicuous place. Allow it to sit for a few hours and then check it throughout the course of the day. When you’re not sure, repeat the test on another area. Pay attention for any undesirable alterations.

Understand, though, this will not be foolproof. But it does give you a good idea of how well the surface will tolerate the intense heat.

How Do You Safely Clean Painted Walls?

The best way to clean painted walls is with good old mild soap, warm water and a clean non-abrasive sponge. Avoid using hot water or scrub brushes as this will create just as much, if not even more damage, than using a steam cleaner.

Removing Stubborn Stains

For stubborn, stuck-on stains, use a plant-based multi-surface cleaner that’s indicated as safe for painted walls. You could even use clothing stain remover. There are many reports of people describing how incredibly useful it is on stains for painted walls.

When you attempt to take out the stain, you must be patient and avoid using too much pressure. Even with the safest cleaners, it is possible to discolor the paint on the wall.


So, while it’s not advisable to steam clean a painted wall, it’s good to use on many other kinds of surfaces. If you have to clean a painted wall, it’s best to go for the traditional methods with plain soap and warm water. The point is to be as clean and chemical-free as possible without damaging, ruining or discoloring your current paint job.