Buildings appear to have changed colour because of the Saharan dust in the rain. / F.j.

The silver lining in the calima muddy rain cloud

Companies that specialise in cleaning and painting buildings are busier than ever, following the episodes of Saharan dust in the south of Spain that have stained outside walls a reddish-brown


After the first episode of calima (airborne dust from the Sahara desert) in Malaga, there were queues at the car washes. The second arrival, which was even heavier, has stained buildings red. And, as every cloud is said to have a silver lining, companies that wash down walls are busier than they have ever been, with requests for quotes from communities of owners, companies and councils who want to be near the top of the list once the muddy rain has moved on.

Many householders spent last weekend hosing down the front of their homes, but when it comes to an apartment block, professional help is needed because the walls need to be power-washed with a descaling solution.

More staff

“It’s incredible. We must have received 80 calls this morning,” says Alejandro Checa, the manager of Grupo Limsama, who is currently holding interviews because he needs more staff to meet demand. “We did what we could after the first lot of calima, but this time it has been much worse,” he says.

Mario Martín of Servihogar Malaga, agrees. Most of this company’s work is done for communities of owners. “We’re receiving a lot of requests but we can’t attend to them all at once,” he says. Some buildings can be cleaned, he explains, but others, depending on the type of surface, are going to need repainting as well.


“Since Friday we have been inundated with calls from people between Torrox and Marbella,” says Jesús Santiago, of the Malaga Colors company which specialises in repairing the outsides of buildings.

“It has been crazy, we have had about 20 calls and emails every day since Friday from people wanting quotes,” says Francisco Hernández, head of technology at Limpiezas Castor, a company with branches all over Andalucía which has now taken on another team to help deal with all the extra work. He thinks things will become even busier once the better weather arrives as some people will have decided to wait until there is less chance of rain before cleaning their buildings.

The cost of this type of cleaning depends on the size, type of wall, amount of dirt and the height of the building. Companies say the outside of a house can cost around 400 euros, and for apartment blocks the cost per square metre can range from 1.20 euros to 2.40 euros, depending on difficulty and the amount of dirt.

DIY warning

For those who are thinking of doing it themselves, Jesús Santiago has some words of advice: “Be careful. Accidents can happen when you are working at a height, and you need to know what treatment should be applied to each wall depending on how it has been painted and finished,” he says.