How to Clean Ghosting on Walls

If you have random dark spots on your walls, you may be experiencing “ghosting”. This is something you might be able to clean, however, you’ll need to find out why your walls are ghosting in the first place.

The good news for these homeowners is that the stains are almost always not mold growth, and they are unlikely to pose a health or structural risk to the building’s occupants. “Ghosting” or “thermal bridging” is the problem they’re describing. While this problem is not dangerous, it can be inconvenient.

If you’ve observed this strange staining pattern in your house, it’s important to know why ghosting on walls and ceilings occurs and what you can do to fix it.

Here is a quick solution you can try to get rid of the ghosting effect on your walls. If this solution does not work, you may have a harder problem to solve than just a simple cleaning. Contact a professional if you’re concerned!

Make a bleach-and-water mix with 1/4 bleach and 3/4 water. Soak the afflicted sections of the wall in the solution until they are completely saturated. Allow 5-10 minutes for the solution to seep into the affected areas. Using a brush, scrub the afflicted area until the mold spots are gone.

What is Ghosting on Walls and Ceiling

The collection of dust particles, dirt, soot stains and other debris on your walls and ceilings can give them a ghostly aspect, similar to what you might see in horror movies. It’s not an evil ghost, though! This problem is also known as “ghost stains,” “bridging,” and “thermal tracking,” and it causes strange patterns on external ceilings and walls, especially around studs and rafters.

cause of ghosting

The deposition of home dust and debris onto walls and ceilings in patterns induced by a combination of air movement, interior moisture, and, in some situations, a source of high amounts of particles is known as thermal tracking or “ghosting.”

When there is insufficient insulation or flaws in the insulation, cold air can push through the walls, causing ghosting on the walls and ceilings. When cold air passes through, it condenses, attracting dust and mold spores on the frame and fasteners of the walls and ceilings.

Everything has to do with the construction of a house in more depth. A thermal, air and moisture barrier must be installed around a residence to ensure that it is appropriately heated and cooled. The three of them are referred to as the building envelope. While gaps, penetrations, and voids should never exist, they do exist in homes with ghosting concerns, allowing air and moisture to be conveyed by the air current.

How to Clean Ghost Stains

Of course, your first instinct may be to clear the stains yourself, but it’s strongly advised that you first identify the source of the problem before cleaning it, otherwise the problem may resurface.

Determine where the cold air routes are located and whether or not there is any condensation behind the walls. If there is, it might be a major issue.

However, there are other less time-consuming ways to keep your home clean and stain-free:

  • Ensure the venting from the clothes dryer leads outdoors
  • Use kitchen exhaust fans when cooking
  • Frequently replace your furnace filter
  • Keep the indoor humidity below 55% in the wintertime
  • Get a professional air duct cleaning
  • Avoid cigarette smoke indoors
  • Seal up any cracks or air leaks
  • Work with an HVAC technician to repair any leaks in the supply and return registers
  • Keep the wicks on candles trimmed to no longer than ¼ inch.
  • Vacuum, dust, and sweep often
  • Ensure your gas and wood stoves are vented properly
  • Always turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom to air out the moisture after showering

If you’ve tried everything else and still can’t get rid of the ghosting stains, you’ll have to open up the walls and install some extra insulation behind the ghosting stains. Consider adding thermal break insulation to the light-gauge steel frame.

You can clean the drywall after you’ve remedied the problem. Repaint the wall after stain-killing paint has been applied to all areas. You shouldn’t have to be concerned about it reappearing.

If The Black Stains Are Mold

If an expert determines that the black spots are mold, you have a few alternatives, depending on the severity of the mold. Whatever you do, you must consult with a professional to assess the situation and identify the health hazards.

After that, you might hire a cleaning company to scrub down the affected area with special detergents and cleaning chemicals. If the mold isn’t too bad, you can make your own cleaning solution and scrape the mold away.

  • Create a solution that is 1/4 bleach and 3/4 water.
  • Thoroughly soak the affected areas of the wall until it is saturated with the solution.
  • Let the solution soak into the affected areas for 5-10 minutes.
  • Scrub the affected area with a brush until the mold stains are removed.
  • Repeat until stains have been cleansed.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to get a professional in to deal with your mold issue.


Can you paint over thermal tracking?

Surface staining from dust deposition by air movement over the insulation won’t affect its effectiveness as long as it hasn’t been wet (and isn’t at risk of mold infection). Keep in mind that simply painting over dark thermal tracking stains will cause the black streaks to bleed through your new paint job.

What causes ghosting on a ceiling?

The accumulation of soot stains, dust, grime, and other particles on items such as studs, joists, walls, ceilings, rafters, and even sheetrock screws causes ghost marks. Condensation can form on the rear side of a poorly insulated wall when cold air passes through it in the winter.

Why is there black dust all over my house?

Black dust can be discovered on furniture, fans, rails, stairwells, bedding, sinks, plants, and appliances in your home. In reality, black dust in your heater or air conditioner, as well as cold air returns, could be caused by failing duct lining materials. It could also be due to the soot particles produced by candles.

How do you stop ghosting on walls and ceilings?

What’s the best way to avoid ghosting? Do not use candles or flammable oils. These are the two culprits in the majority of cases. Improve the insulation in your attic. Make sure the ceiling joists/rafter ties are completely covered with insulation. Reduce the relative humidity in your home. The problem is made worse by the excess humidity in the air.

What are the little brown spots on my walls?

Brown Spots on My Ceiling: What Are They? Water stains created by a leak above might be seen on your ceiling and interior walls as brown spots or patches. This leak could be caused by a problem with your business roof systems or a leak in another part of your building, such as leaking pipes or HVAC units.

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