How to Clean Popcorn Ceiling (Not Everyone Knows)

Popcorn ceiling, or so-called acoustic ceiling, is a popular ceiling texture back in the 80s. At that time, bidders favored this structure simply because it was easy to apply, along with its moisture-resistant and reasonable price. In addition, this ceiling can cover well if there is any imperfection causing during the construction.

However, because the surface is not smooth with popcorn-like pockmarks, these ceilings are easy to catch dust. Also, when the surface is dirty, the roughness of the texture will reveal the dirt that causes aesthetics and bothersome for homeowners. If you are one of those people who own this vintage ceiling, follow some of the tips on how to clean popcorn ceiling effectively.


We strongly recommend that you should not rush to do the cleanup. The reason is that the acoustic ceiling used in the 1980’s would contain asbestos. Asbestos is a soft, greyish-white material that can be used in buildings to protect against fire and stop heat from escaping.

However, it is capable of severely damaging humans’ respiration. You can learn more about how to check the asbestos density on the ceiling via the Internet before getting started. While cleaning, remember to wear goggles and mask to protect your health. Bellowed is a complete list of the tools needed to clean the popcorn ceiling.

Tools for cleaning

Plastic canvas, vacuum cleaner, long brush, adhesive tape, lint roller, paint roller, water, dishwasher soap, sponge, detergent, aerosol, ventilation fan

Protective gear

Protection mask or face mask, goggles, gloves, and ladder

Before cleaning, please cover the floor and surrounding furniture with plastic canvas, tarps, or old newspapers to protect them from dust and dirt that will come off the ceiling.

For dirt and cobwebs

Dirt and cobwebs are the first basic need-to-clean things on how to clean popcorn ceiling.

To get rid of dirt, the most traditional method is to use a broom or feather duster. However, this will cause dirt to fall down on the floor. If your furniture and floor are not covered with care, you will have to clean up more than the attempt work. If your vacuum cleaner has a brush attachment, use it to sweep away the dust. This will minimize the limitation of using a broom, as the vacuum cleaner will suck up any dust instead of brushing it down.

You can use duct tape to clean dirt on the ceiling. Coil the tape tightly around a paint roller with the sticky side up. This combination will effectively remove the dirt without damaging the ceiling. When the roller is doing its job, the dust will be stuck on the duct tape. If the tape loses its stickiness, it is time to change to the new one. Use this technique for two or three times to completely remove the dust from the ceiling. The tape and roller combination can also help you clean even corners.

For dirt and cobwebs

Image source: wikiHow

To clean cobwebs, you can use one of the following ways:

A feather duster can help clean away those stubborn cobwebs. When you place the duster under each cobweb and lifting it away, the dirt will not it leave any unwanted marks. Clean the duster right after so that it will not leave marks elsewhere when you need to use the duster later.

Cleaning cobwebs with vacuum cleaner could be a good idea. The vacuum cleaner will clean the ceiling by sucking up the cobwebs. It would be perfect to have a handheld vacuum with a long hose that reaches the ceiling. If the hose cannot extend as high enough, you’ll need a ladder.

How to clean popcorn ceiling that has stains

In order to deal with stains, you will have to make a liquid cleanser. Please check if the ceiling can endure water. Remember not to get the ceiling too wet since the popcorn ceiling cannot stand up to much moisture. After putting any solutions to the ceiling, let it dry overnight with ventilation fans on or windows open.

For your own safety, please do not forget to wear gloves, mask, and even goggles while taking care of the stains.

Cooking stain

The solution for cooking grease is a mixture of warm water and dishwashing liquid. You can put it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture directly onto the stain, dab the area with a sponge, then let it dry naturally.

Cooking stain

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Cigarette and mold stains

The remedy for this is water and bleach. The ratio of water and blench depends on the shade of the discoloration. You can add more blench after the first try.

Normally, the mixture will have one part bleach to five parts water. Put it in a spray bottle and mist the area. After several hours, if the stain is not blurred, you can add more bleach to the mixture.

To evaluate if the remedy is working, the area sprayed must be completely dry.

If you cannot remove the stains, or you do not like the look of the ceiling after the cleanup, consider refreshing it with a new painting.

To sum up, the answer to how to cleaning popcorn ceiling is not such a big concern. Just clean it at least once a year and your house will be shiny and bright than ever.

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