This Old Erie House
By Linda Martin Community Blogger
Owners of old houses have so much in common that house talk comes easy between us. Please join in the conversation as we try to fix, restore and update our old Erie houses.  Read more about this blog.
Posted: August 24th, 2010
Washing the Kitchen Ceiling

I’m prepping the kitchen ceiling to paint. My husband will do the painting. I climbed the ladder and to my horror (not really) there was caked on dirt on the top of the door moldings “crowns.”  I knew they would be dirty because it was more than a year since I took a ladder up to clean them off.  I have used the swiffers to dust them, of course,  but that doesn’t do much of anything for the kitchen ones. The kitchen is especially bad because the dirt doesn’t wipe off, it is grimy.  I took my usual Clorox cloths only to find the dirt turns to little sticky balls.  I took vinegar.  That didn’t do anything.  I tried the tsp substitute (full strength) and it didn’t do much either.  After 4 times climbing up and down that ladder, I found that straight ammonia took it right off. Ammonia will also take off shellac so you have to be really careful.  In high school, my home-ec teacher swore by ammonia. I used to get a rash on my hands from it but we had to use it. (Now days someone would sue the school but in those days we just took everything in stride and I went and bought some tar cream for rashes. ) When I saw the ammonia work so good,  I read the directions on the ammonia bottle for cleaning walls.  1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar and some baking soda.   I made a little mixture (didn’t measure but guessed at it) and dipped my rag in it and it worked really good. I decided to use that for my ceilings.

I’m writing this as I take a break.  My neck hurts and I’m getting a headache.  I didn’t use gloves because it just drips back onto your arms when you are reaching above your head so now my fingers are all wrinkly.   I got a whole 4 x 6 ft section done and I’m wondering just how important it is to have to clean that ceiling before painting.  I can see doing it over the stove where it would be a little bit more grimy, but the whole ceiling?  Isn’t paint today suppose to stick regardless?  I’m thinking if ever there was a time to take shortcuts, this would be it.

Posted in: ceilings, walls
One Response to “Washing the Kitchen Ceiling”
  1. Tom says:

    Prep is the most important part of painting. Many people skimp on washing. If you want a good paint job that will last, don’t skimp on the prep.