Rex & Mary, if you find something that works, please post it here. We tried and tried and never found anything that works very well. The usual household cleaning items worked about as well (or not so well) as anything else, for us. That, a scrub brush, and lots of elbow grease. We were cleaning off black stripes on our ceiling. We eventually got 95% of it off but if I look I can still see them. Sorry to not have a good answer for you.
I suppose it depends on what is on the ceiling that your trying to get off.About 20 yr ago we bought an old camper and someone had smoked in there(alot) and I never could get that yellow stain off the white ceiling so eventually I painted it.
Well! here is what I do and it has worked fair so far. I bought one of those swiffer things you know the one with the swivel tops. I use the swiffer wet cloth's that you use for the floor only I spray a little orange cleaner on it.It does a pretty good job and I don't have to climb the ladder,I also just run it over the walls too.I like it because you can stand on the floor and wash the walls and the ceiling. There are places that are low that is easer to do by hand.
When we cleaned my mothers house we used Simple Green. It took years and years of smoke (both wood burning stove and cigarettes) off the walls and ceiling so we could paint. Also made the house smell good too.