dirtex vs. tsp

I pit Dirtex vs. TSP and see which one did better at cleaning. I also go into why you might choose Dirtex in one situation and TSP in another.

Dirtex versus TSP

If you’re wondering just how to get your walls perfectly prepped for painting, this video should answer your questions. If you prefer to read, I’ve written it all out for you below the video. Thank you for watching and reading.

What is the difference between Dirtex and TSP?

So what’s the difference, Dirtex vs. TSP? Let’s get started.

Hey this is Kathleen from oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I am washing my walls to prep them for painting after I’ve taken off all the wallpaper. I thought that I would test two products. I’ve used both. I’ve used both TSP and I’ve used Dirtex to clean walls and other things in prep for painting.

Why would you need to use TSP on walls?

Okay, after you’ve got all the wallpaper off of your walls you have to go back over and wash the walls to prep them for paint, or new paper, either way. You’re going to have some residual glue from the wallpaper and you might have little teeny scraps of the paper that you kind of missed when you went over with your steamer or with the hot water and method.

Either way you’re going to have to go back over the wall, sadly. You need to do it with a nice, heavy-duty cleaner. Which one? And why is one – is one better than the other? TSP or Dirtex? I’ve used both and I sort of have a casual opinion about each one, but I thought that I would test them out and see, like is one really better than the other?

They’re made by the same company. Dirtex is actually a TSP substitute. It’s easier to get Dirtex or Dirtex-like products at your local hardware store or Walmart that you just walk into. if you just walk into those stores you can’t even get TSP on the shelf, at least not where I live. You have to order it. I had to order this from Amazon. So if you don’t plan ahead you know you’re going to be with a TSP substitute, anyway. But let’s see which one’s best.

Is there a difference in how they clean?

Well to be perfectly frank, I think TSP cleans better. But, however, huge however, you have to rinse after you wash with TSP. I have done an entire room, big old room – washed the walls with TSP, and then gone back over and rinsed, and do they get like, clean and ready to take paint like you would not believe? Yes, they do. Did I hate doing that rinse and like, kick myself for using TSP instead of Dirtex? Yes, I did. To be honest, in this room, um, I already know that I am going to use Dirtex come what may.

I – I’m curious to see which performs better, and I’m going to do that test because I think that it’s interesting and informative, and it might help somebody out there out who’s wondering the same thing as me. They both look the same. Dirtex is, um, is kind of orange, and TSP is white. Why, I do not know. On the back of the TSP box it’s a – it’s called, “heavy duty cleaning walls and woodwork” and on the back of the Dirtex box it’s, “painted or varnished surfaces, ceilings floors.”

What are the risks associated with trisodium phosphate?

TSP can be irritating if inhaled. It can cause skin burns.

Runoff from phosphate cleaners causes those huge algae blooms in creeks and ponds, so you don’t want to release TSP into the environment. This data sheet from Fisher Scientific has all of the details.

Also, TSP can damage wood. I left some TSP solution on a floor too long once and it sort of bleached it.

What are the risks associated with Dirtex?

Dirtex can also be irritating if inhaled. Prolonged exposure can burn the skin. There’s no environmental precautions listed on this safety sheet from Savogran company, the manufacturer.

Dirtex can also leave marks on your wood floors, if you’re not careful, but in my experience it’s not as bad as the marks from TSP.

Should I use TSP powder or liquid?

I have only used it in powder form. It’s very easy to mix and is cheaper to buy in powder. You can control the strength of your solution if you mix it yourself. I guess liquid TSP would be more convenient as you wouldn’t have the hassles of measuring and mixing.

How to Make Dirtex Solution

Okay, I put this tape here and I’m going to wash this side with Dirtex, this side with TSP. I’m measuring out the Dirtex. I’ve got one tablespoon. I’m going to dump it in my bucket, and two. I’ve got this in the bottom of the bucket. I’m going to run over to the bathroom and fill this up with hot water to the gallon mark on the bucket, and I’ll be right back.

How to Make TSP Solution

TSP is much finer than the Dirtex. The Dirtex is very coarse, almost like kosher salt, and this is more like table salt, and it’s white. So TSP, I’m gonna do three tablespoons, one and three.

All right, we’re gonna just go run and fill up these buckets. This is the Dirtex mixed with one gallon of water. It’s yellow. And here’s the TSP mixed with one gallon of water, three tablespoons TSP. It’s just – it’s white. You can’t really even see it once it’s dissolved in the water. I’m going to scrub one side of my wall with Dirtex and the other with TSP and then we’ll do a comparison.

So, are the trisodium phosphate substitutes on the market as good as the real thing?

Here’s the Dirtex side of the wall. It’s dry now, and it feels – it feels good. It’s a little sticky here. I think that’s where there’s still wallpaper glue that didn’t quite come off. Okay, but on most spots it feels dry and like it’s ready to take paint or plaster – you know, joint compound.

Here is the TSP side and it feels about the same, dry, ready for paint. There’s some sticky spots I can feel with my fingers where I need to scrub more at the wallpaper paste that’s stubbornly sticking to the wall.

TSP is made by the same company that makes Dirtex, Savogran out in Massachusetts, Norwood, Massachusetts. The difference in the descriptions on the packaging, overall, TSP sounds like a more heavy duty cleaner that can do more and cut through more dirt than Dirtex.

For example, the first line on the back says, “formulated for heavy-duty cleaning, removes greasy, sooty, dirt and prepares painted surfaces for repainting.” I think if I were trying to degrease kitchen cabinets before painting, I would choose TSP. If I was trying to clean soot stains, greasy dirt, greasy grime, I’d choose TSP.

And then the first line on the back of the Dirtex box says, “a general purpose quick dissolving powder cleaner for use on every washable surface in home, office, shop. Recommended for cleaning walls, floors, and woodwork and for preparing painted surfaces for refinishing.” So it just ,you know, even the way to describe it, it’s like this is a great strong cleaner for stuff that gets dirty, and this is like, “greasy,” you know, something that’s a little more intense, even, and then of course the other big thing for me, the huge one, is TSP. You have to rinse it after, according to the directions. I mean, I guess you could skip it, but the directions say to rinse, and I’d be afraid not to. And then Dirtex specifically says, “leaves surface clean without rinsing,” which is like, awesome if you’re feeling crunched for time, which is all of us, right?

Both TSP and Dirtex are Heavy Duty Cleaners

My walls, they both did a good job cleaning. I’m happy with both of them as a a way to prep the wall for painting. If I could skip washing walls altogether, of course, I would. But when you’ve got, when you’ve taken wallpaper off, it’s really important to go back. There’s always little bits of paper and there’s always like, this glue residue, even with the steamer there’s glue residue, quite a bit, in fact.

TSP Neutralizes Lead Paint Dust

The other thing, which I will get into in another video, I would like to share with you all my experiences with lead paint. if you have an old house you are probably sooner or later going to have some kind of experience with lead paint. We’ve had quite a few in our house, and we’ve had to do a lot of remediation. If you are in some kind of situation where you’re getting a lot of lead paint dust in your house, and you can’t immediately fix the root cause, TSP is great for dissolving lead dust. It actually – whatever it is in the lead that’s harmful to us humans, it binds with it and neutralizes it. It is a great thing if you need to be wiping down your windowsills and floors because you’ve got lead dust in your house. This is what you want.

Dirtex Does Not Neutralize Lead Paint Dust

The Dirtex does not make any mention of being able to neutralize lead paint dust, like here it says, “effectively controls lead paint dust.” This says, “effectively controls,” but I’ve read other places that that’s what it does. It just neutralizes it. So that’s great, and then the Dirtex does not mention lead dust at all, so if you are worried about lead dust, and you’re washing paint work, I would go with the TSP for sure.

Dirtex is Better Because You Don’t have to Rinse

Otherwise, like this, I’m just doing these bare walls; they don’t have paint on them; there’s miles of them, it feels like. I’m gonna go with the Dirtex. You don’t have to rinse it. It’s a very strong effective cleaner. It’s cheap and it’s good. TSP and Dirtex.

I hope that this helped you make a decision if you’re wondering about TSP versus Dirtex.

TL;DR, Dirtex vs TSP

The TL;DR is, Dirtex you don’t have to rinse it. It’s very powerful. TSP is a little more powerful. You do have to rinse it and be a little more careful with it. It’ll leave marks on your floors, that kind of thing, more readily than Dirtex. I say that from personal experience. Also, if you have a lead paint dust issue you definitely want to use the TSP.

More on Prepping Walls for Painting

If you’re getting rid of old nasty wallpaper, check out my posts and videos on How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper? and How to Strip Wallpaper with Three Simple Tools.

Make Old Furniture Look New

wood dresser

Use a solution of three parts oil to one part white vinegar to give the old finish a mini facial. It can make old furniture look new.

Sometimes you can’t paint a piece of furniture, because it’s too pretty, or someone you love likes that old brown dresser just the way it is.

You don’t have time or space to refinish it, and you’re tired of staring at that beat up old piece.

Make Old Furniture Look New … Without Paint

Painted Furniture is great, but too much of it in the same room looks, well, bad. Balancing out your painted pieces with good old fashioned brown furniture is the key to evolved, old world style French/Swedish/English Country style interior. It’s fun to play around and find just the right mix of different paint colors, finishes, and old brown pieces with great patina.

Speaking of patina, wood furniture can be charming, antique furniture, or it can just be old wood furniture.

I think it was Annie Sloan who said that the French would paint any wooden furniture, unless it were very special, indeed. That is pretty much my philosophy.

If something is just old wood furniture, it’s better off being painted with a lovely, interesting finish. But if you’ve got something truly special, even if it’s just special to you, that’s a different story.

He Likes the Wood Look

Painted furniture can add so much charm and interest. But, you will run across that furniture piece that you just can’t paint, for whatever reasons.

In my case, my boys don’t want painted furniture in their bedroom, not really. They prefer the wood look.

Family Baggage Heirlooms

And then I also have a few things that have come down from grandparents. Nothing fancy, but I have a feeling if I were to paint them, I might make some people upset.

I have never stripped, sanded, and refinished a piece of furniture. I don’t have the time, and I’m scared of the chemicals.

All-Natural Refinishing to Make Old Furniture Look New

If you feel the same way, but you’re sick of staring at that old finish, try this all-natural furniture refinishing solution: three quarters cup oil (I used olive oil) and one quarter cup vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar).

I got this tip from Miss Mustard Seed in her book, Inspired You. It’s tucked in there, just like an offhand remark, but it’s really brilliant. It might not be full on furniture restoration, but it can be as exciting a change to your old piece as a fresh coat of paint and furniture makeover.

I recently gave this a try on a beat up old dresser from the 60s and set of nesting tables from the 40s.

They’re both good quality, solid wood. I was really pleased with the results for such a minimal effort. The wood on these old pieces now looks silky smooth and moisturized. They’re both a bit darker and a bit shiner. It really did make old furniture look new.

This little mini facial didn’t remove any stains or imperfections, but it did perk up my pieces and make them look cared for and shiny.

Here’s the video I made about treating furniture with this oil and vinegar solution. If you like reading better, I wrote it all out and added the pictures, just below the video.

He Doesn’t Want It Painted

Did you ever have a piece of furniture that you just didn’t want to paint?

Or, that your little boy or husband didn’t want you to paint?

That is my situation with this dresser. it’s an old pine dresser probably from the 60s. We’ve had it for many years and as you can see it’s very dirty. It’s got grease spots and watermarks, all kinds of stuff.

I have suggested painting it many times and my husband and my son always say, “no no no no I love that dresser!” Now it’s going to be my son’s dresser. So what to do?

Oil and Vinegar Facelift

Hi, this is Kathleen from Old World Farmhouse and today I am going to take a solution of oil and vinegar and try to clean up this dresser. I like to make old furniture look new, but I do not want to get into refinishing. I just don’t have time or patience for all of that mess.

I read in Miss Mustard Seed’s book, actually, that you could take a solution of oil and vinegar, if your wood furniture isn’t in too bad of shape, and just kind of rub that in to clean it up, instead of going through the whole mess of refinishing.

Old Pine Dresser Looks New

I thought I’d give that a try today on this old pine piece and see what happens. Okay so here I’ve got three quarters of a cup of olive oil and a quarter cup of white vinegar. I’ve just got this little blue microfiber cloth that I’m mixing into that. It feels very oily and it doesn’t smell that great. I’m just gonna – I’m just gonna get started and see.

I hope that this is a “good enough for mom” solution.

Here is the finished result after I wiped it down with one quarter cup vinegar and three quarter cup of olive oil. It’s definitely looking happier now. It didn’t take away these little weird marks that I have no idea where they came from. But of course, I wouldn’t have expected that. The wood looks less thirsty and miserable than it used to for sure, and you can see a little more of the grain coming out.

The sides look great.

By and large, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out.

wood dresser

It didn’t take away the markings on the top. The water stains, so see like there’s a big ring stain it did not take it away.

But it definitely looks better than it used to, especially from the front.

Really Old Tables Look Silky Smooth

These wood nesting tables are really old. They’ve been passed down from my grandparents to my parents and now to me. As you can see, they’re very worn, they’ve got water stains and i was thinking of painting them, but somehow I just can’t bring myself to do it. I guess because they’ve been in the family and I don’t want to make anybody mad.

wood nesting tables
wood nesting tables

Also I have sentimental memories of seeing these in our house growing up. I’m going to try the same technique on these tables that I did with that dresser upstairs. I’m going to take my solution of a quarter cup of vinegar to three-quarter cup olive oil.

Here are my nesting tables after being rubbed down with a solution of vinegar and olive oil. They’re definitely looking a lot happier and less thirsty now.

brown nesting tables

This is how the tables look after 48 hours of drying. After I wiped them with the oil and vinegar solution. Wow the difference is remarkable. They’re darker and just less tired out looking and they’re like, smooth and silky to the touch.

brown nesting tables

Now I’m gonna go upstairs and see how my dresser is doing after being let alone for 48 hours. Let’s go. The pine dresser 48 hours later.

wood dresser

It’s no longer wet like it was. It’s still a little greasy to the touch but I think that it’s going to absorb in time because in other spots it’s perfectly dry now.

Let’s look at the top. Still pretty gnarly, but just soft and silky, less thirsty, and all in all I’m enjoying its worn and weathered look, instead of thinking that it just looked sad before. It’s like i gave it a little facial, a little maybe not even as much as a facial. I just bought it some nice moisturizer.

Thank you so much for watching this video. if you found it helpful could you help me out by giving me a thumbs up down below and please check out my blog at oldworldfarmhouse.com for resources on French, English, and Swedish country styles as well as old houses. Thanks again.

More Resources For Dirty Wood

If you’d like more resources on cleaning wood, check out my post, Can Mineral Spirits Clean Waxed Floors?. If you’d rather make over your wood furniture by painting it, check out my posts, Get The Swedish Country Look With Chalk Paint, and Khaki Green Paint Colors for French Country Style.

How to strip wallpaper with three simple tools

old wallpaper

It is totally possible to strip wallpaper with three simple tools.

We show you how to scrape off gross old wallpaper with hot soapy water, paint brush, wallpaper scorer (optional, just use the side of the 5-in-1 tool if you don’t have one) and a 5-in-1 tool.

We are using the instructions from Mr. Aubrey of “Aubrey’s Absolute Decorating.” His YouTube channel is full of some of the most useful and clear instructions I have ever seen on all manner of home improvement projects. I must have watched every wallpaper removal video on YouTube and his is the best.

Here is the link to his tutorial

Supply List

plastic dropcloth

wallpaper scorer

big cheap paintbrush

5 in 1 Tool

Plastic Bucket

Ajax, Dawn, or other liquid detergent

In this video, I’ll show you exactly how to strip wallpaper with three simple tools. If you’d rather read, I’ve written it all out just below the video.

How To Strip Wallpaper With Three Simple Tools

Hey what’s up YouTube this is Kathleen from the blog and YouTube channel oldworldfarmhouse.com and this is my son. We are going to be stripping the wallpaper off of his bedroom walls today. Very ugly, old, extremely old wallpaper. I’m gonna show you how to strip wallpaper with three simple tools.

I’ll link below. I – I have watched a ton of how to remove wallpaper videos and my favorite one is from Audrey’s ah Audrey’s Aubrey’s Absolute Decorating. He’s got really clear directions. They’re great. I have followed them for stripping this room. They are the best I’ve ever seen.

Wallpaper Scorer

I’m just going to show you how I’ve taken his directions and adapted them to our situation, so let’s get started! The first thing we’re going to need is a wallpaper scorer. You can get these at Lowe’s, Home Depot, hardware stores, whatever. They’re not expensive at all. I can’t remember how much this one was, but definitely under ten dollars.

I’m gonna show you how – well, Lars is gonna – Lars is gonna show you how. It’s really fun, it works all right. Okay so you just go over your walls in a circular motion. I think Mr. Aubrey said, you know, do about, I don’t know, two feet or so at a time. No more than that. The reason that you’re going over them like this is to create little cuts in the paper so that the water can get behind there and soften the wallpaper. There, buddy you’ve got your section scored.

Hot Soapy Water and Wide Paint Brush

You want to get a bucket of very hot water with a couple drops of – Mr. Aubrey calls it washing up liquid because he’s English, but you know I have Ajax in here, and a very wide paint brush.

This is a cheap, four inch wide, you know, plastic bristle or something. What you’re going to do is just kind of dip your brush in the water – oh and I should mention, to protect your floor, throw down a drop cloth. This is a plastic one.

You know some water is going to drip, and if you have an electric outlet or something, tape it over. In his video he actually goes and turns the power off before he does the wall because there’s like an electric socket right in the wall. I’m working on a wall that has no electric on it, but when i get over to where my electrics are I’m definitely going to turn the power off. You’ll see why in a minute.

You take your brush, and he recommends, you know, soaking the paper in kind of an arcing motion. So, not up and down, but like – like a little rainbow back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and not a very wide section, you know two feet or so at a time, because otherwise it’ll dry before you get a chance to come over there with your scraper.

Then you wait two or three minutes, go do something else, come back and repeat on the same section again. Paint it with the water again. Mom what happens when you don’t wait? Well if you don’t wait, then you have more work. Like, if you want it, you’re like, I just don’t want to wait! You want to get in there with your scraper and start lifting the paper up, it’s going to be much harder because what the – what giving those three or minutes or so does is soften the paste. The water softens the paste, so let the water work for you. Let the water do the work. Um, okay then you wait another two or three minutes.

Then you do a third time. Coat your wall with water, always waiting two to three minutes in between.

Lift With 5-in-One Tool

Okay, so we have soaked our paper three times, waiting two to three minutes in between each soak with water, and now we are ready to lift it off. A good tool to use for that, show one Lars, this is from Lowe’s. It is a five in one tool. A very sturdy little thing that would be good. I have also been using this puppy from time to time if i can get good big pieces up with it.

Now Lars is going to demonstrate how to gently loosen the paper from the wall with the scraper without damaging the paper – not the paper, we don’t care about the paper; the plaster. We don’t want to damage the plaster underneath.

We do not want to have plaster problems if at all possible because plaster problems are a big big headache. All right, Lars, so get your little tool in there and show them how it’s done. Just slip it under the paper, and it will come off and then you can just take it off with your hands, like this. And voilĂ . And then what, just keep going, keep going, until you have gotten all you want for that day or that time done and if there’s this stuff you can just learn how to lift it with a tool. You can just go like if it’s small spots, just that’s what I do, yeah, show them with the paper. It’ll fall off, but this you can just push it, not too hard, not too gentle.

And then, and just keep doing that until you’re done. Okay, so that is where we are with our wallpaper stripping. It’s really part one, because according to Aubrey in his video, after you’ve got all the paper off, you have to go back and kind of take your scraper and scrape very gently the entire room to get the glue residue off. Otherwise, when you go to paint, the paint will stick to the glue and, you know, dry and look like a – an awful mess. He said lizard skin, I believe.

So we’ve got to go over it to get the paste off and then over again with water to wash. I’ll make separate videos for that when we get to that point. But for now, we are signing off, bye!

If you’re looking for more information about stripping wallpaper, check out my post, How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper?