How Do I Remove Ceiling Stains?

A step ladder offers a stable platform for cleaning ceilings, as opposed to a chair.
Bleach may be helpful for treating mildew problems.
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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2014
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There is a series of methods that can be used to remove ceiling stains, often caused by water or mildew. The source of the damage should be located and once the cause is identified, it should be repaired to prevent recurring ceiling stains, especially leaking water. Some stains caused by leaks may require construction in order to reach the source, and the piece of damaged drywall or ceiling tile is usually replaced. Ceiling stains that do not require complete removal can be cleaned and repainted with specific materials.

The surface should be cleaned after all other problems are resolved. An efficient chemical commonly used to eliminate water and mildew spots is a bleach based product. Directions for dilution and chemical mixing should always be followed to avoid hazardous contact and inhalation. Most mixtures require at least a medium size bucket filled with hot water to maximize sterilization. Plastic should be draped on furniture and placed on the floor to prevent further water damage in the room.

A step ladder, as opposed to a chair or unstable piece of furniture, should be set up properly to ensure safety. Goggles should be used because you will be scrubbing with chemicals directly over the head. The damaged area should be scrubbed several times before rinsing thoroughly with a clean wet rag. Drying times vary depending on the amount of cleaning fluid or water used and the temperature of the room.


The area should be completely dry before applying a stain sealing primer, and you should notice that the stain is significantly lighter. A thin coat of stain sealer can be applied with a painting utensil and can be repeated to ensure full coverage. There are specialized sprays for ceiling stains that are inexpensive, easy to use, and generally available at local hardware stores. Sprays may not be the best option for large ceiling stains, however, because overexposure to the fumes can be hazardous.

After the ceiling stains are covered by the stain sealer and the entire area is dry, the section can be coated with household interior paint. Some people choose to repaint the entire ceiling in order for it to match, depending on how long it has been since it was painted and how much discoloration has occurred across the rest of the surface. Recently painted rooms and ceilings will be able to withstand touch ups without noticing that a specific area has just been painted.


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