5 Tips That Will Make Cleaning Your Popcorn Ceilings Easier

As we meet new customers, one of the biggest questions we get is “how do you clean and dust popcorn ceilings?Getting dust off is more simple, but if you’re trying to remove stains requires more attention. In this article, we’ll address the top concerns of cleaning popcorn ceilings as well as 5 tips on how to make the cleaning process easier.

With that, let’s jump in!

Three concerns to address first

Three concerns to address first

Popcorn and even tile ceilings are different from the conventional ceilings most newer homes are made with. Before tackling them, here’s a few things you’ll need to know first:

1. Health concerns from Asbestos

Popcorn ceilings in homes built before the 1980’s might have Asbestos which causes serious health issues. According to, Asbestos is known for causing cancer if inhaled, which makes it critical that you test your popcorn ceilings first if your home was built before the 1980’s. Learn more about Asbestos here.

2. Easily test your ceilings within 3 days

The good news is you can quickly test for Asbestos by purchasing a test kit on Amazon and getting the results back within three days. Sampling is easy to do. Just follow the instructions on the kit, send the kit back for testing, and get your results within three days.

3. Know the difference between dirty and damaged ceilings

When we’re conducting walk-throughs, we try defining spots from a dirty ceiling vs stains from a damaged ceiling. Because popcorn ceilings are made from vermiculite and polystyrene materials, they absorb liquid (like coffee or grease in the kitchen) and smoke within their pores, which makes it harder to use elbow grease for tougher stains.

If your ceiling is damaged, you may need to call a home improvement service that specializes in repairs and restorations on interior walls and ceilings.

5 Tips for dusting and cleaning ceilings

If the ceiling is just dirty, there are several easy steps for getting it cleaned. Below is our checklist of action items you can do yourself to help make the process easier:

Tip 1: Prep area by laying covering with sheets

Cleaning popcorn ceilings is messy. You’ll find ceiling kernels falling all over your furniture, floors and vulnerable areas like kitchen countertops. Because of this, we recommend taking a large sheet or two and covering the exposed areas of the room you’re cleaning.

Prep area by laying covering with sheets

Don’t worry about covering the entire room all at once. Start with a 5ft x 5ft area around where you’re cleaning and move your sheets as needed.

Tip 2: Wear a hat and face protection

Wearing a baseball cap will help prevent kernels from getting stuck in your hair, and eye goggles will allow you to focus clearly without worrying about debris falling in your eyes.

Wear a hat and face protection

Also, it’s a good idea to wear a facemask. Even if your ceilings aren’t tested positive for Asbestos, a face mask will help keep you from breathing in other falling dust.

Tip 3: Use a Swiffer Duster for minimal dust jobs

We recommend using the Swiffer Duster Super Extender for minimal dusting jobs. The reason we love this is because it can extend up to 6 ft, which makes it very easy to reach high areas.

Swiffer Duster for minimal dust jobs

The microfiber heads also do an amazing job at retaining dust and keeping it from escaping into the air. This is because of Swiffer’s microfiber static technology that acts as a magnet toward dust.

Tip 4: Use a vacuum brush attachment for thicker dust jobs

Ceilings that haven’t been cleaned for a few years will probably have thicker dust clumps. In these situations, using a vacuum brush attachment is a better option than a duster. One reason a vacuum attachment is better for stronger dust is because the air suction keeps any dust from falling into the air.

vacuum brush attachment

The brush tool is also effective at agitating the popcorn ceiling crevices using its bristles which helps loosen and remove more dust.

Some cleaning professionals recommend using a shop vacuum, but we’ve personally found that a shop vacuum can be harder to operate cleaning ceilings, especially if you’re having to stand on a step ladder. Our recommendation is to use a vacuum that has a good accordion hose which can extend at least 15 ft. Accordion hoses are different from rubber vacuum hoses. They’re much easier to stretch across rooms or to reach ceilings. We also recommend the hose come with a telescopic handle which will make it even easier to reach higher up spaces.

If you’re looking for a good quality vacuum that includes all these features, check out the Tandem Air upright vacuum by Riccar. It’s a little pricey, but much more affordable than a Kirby vacuum, and is by far one of the most durable and effective vacuums for dusting higher up areas.

Tip 5: Use Clorox and water for tough stains

cleaning ceiling with spray

Other spots caused by grease or beverage spills (like in the kitchen) can be treated using a mix of water and bleach in a spray bottle. Some professional cleaners say to use a 50/50 ratio of bleach and water, but this is a bit strong. We recommend starting out with a 75/25 ratio (75 = water, 25 = bleach). If the stains don’t go away, then add a little bit more bleach and keep trying.

Caution: make sure to test your water and bleach solution in a non-conspicuous part of your ceiling first to make sure it doesn’t discolor your ceiling. You also want to make sure you’re wearing your eye protection and face mask.

Spray the spots on your ceiling using the “Mist” setting on your spray bottle and leave to set.

For less difficult spots, we recommend using a bottle of Krud Kutter degreaser and a damp sponge to gently dab at the spot. Remember, popcorn ceilings are tricky because you can use a lot of elbow grease to scrub the stains off, so you’ll need to focus on saturating the spot with your degreaser and patiently dabbings the area until the spot begins to fade.

3 reasons most people avoid cleaning their popcorn ceilings

As we’ve gathered feedback from our customers over the years, we’ve learned there are several reasons people decide not to clean their popcorn ceilings:

1. It’s physical straining

While using the right tools can help easily remove dust and stains from your ceilings, ultimately the process is tiring. People find lifting their arms above their shoulders to clean higher up areas can feel draining over time. Those with back issues or vertigo may also find the physical effort challenging.

2. It’s very time consuming

Popcorn ceiling cleaning takes time. For a small 1 bedroom+1 bathroom apartment, it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire morning to clean. For larger homes, you’ll definitely need to schedule multiple weekends at a time and clean the ceilings in sections.

3. It requires a lot of preparation

Everything from purchasing the supplies you need to preparing the room so dust doesn’t fall on furniture all takes extra effort, which adds to the amount of time need to accomplish the job.

What’s the best option moving forward?

What our customers realized is that hiring our company was a much better option in the long run. Not only were we able to offer them a great deal on popcorn ceiling cleaning, but they saved so much time, energy and preparation.

Hiring Soji Cleaners has given our clients back their weekends and free time to pursue recreational activities, hobbies and enjoying being with family and friends.

We encourage you to give us a call or email us to set up a time to conduct a free walk through, or you can visit our main website at