How to Clean Flat Paint Walls without Damaging the Surface

Whether it's craft spatters or red wine, walls have a way of getting dirty. This is how to safely clean your walls if they're painted with matt, flat paint.

A flat paint finish gives your walls an attractive matt appearance. Dingy, scuffed walls do not. But how to clean flat painted walls? 

The tricky part is the care that’s required not to damage the surface. If scrubbed too hard, the finish can become uneven and look even words. In this article, we outline safe steps to help you clean your walls with flat paint.

If you need assistance keeping your walls or home clean, consider booking a professional and affordable cleaner with Homeaglow.

How to tell if you have flat paint

Ensure that your walls are actually painted with flat paint before using these cleaning methods. If they are not, read our other article on how to clean walls with different paint types.

Flat-painted walls don’t refer to the texture of the walls; instead, it relates to their matte finish. Your wall's ability to reflect or absorb light can quickly reveal its type of paint. You have flat paint if there is no or very little light reflecting off the surface of your painted wall.

Cleaning supplies you’ll need

  • Sponge or microfiber cloth
  • Eraser sponge
  • Bucket
  • White vinegar
  • Towel
  • Foam cleanser
  • Dish soap or detergent
  • Touch-up paint and paintbrush

Steps to clean walls with flat paint

Step 1: Remove dust

Before you begin cleaning, use a feather duster or dry towel to remove any dust and dry debris on your wall. Work in small sections progressively down the wall and use a sturdy step stool or ladder to access high places if necessary. 

Step 2: Clean with water

Consider using a sponge and warm water to clean your wall before applying any cleaning product. The likelihood that you will harm the paint on your wall is lower if cleaned with water.

Use a moist sponge to gently wipe in a circular motion. This step is most likely to remove stains that are fresh on your flat paint wall.

Step 3: Clean walls with a cleaning solution

If the plain water doesn't remove the stains, prepare a cleaning solution by mixing 1 tbsp of dishwashing liquid and 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar for every quart of warm water.

Dip a sponge or microfiber cloth in your cleaning solution and squeeze out all the liquid. Then begin cleaning from the top of the wall to the bottom. Rinse your sponge in the cleaning solution frequently to ensure a clean wall.

Next, dip a second sponge in clean water and squeeze until nearly dry. Use this sponge to remove any soapy residue on your wall.

Step 4: Clean the wall with baking soda

If the stain and scuffs on your flat-painted wall are still there, it’s time to bring out the big guns. (If the stubborn stain is from your children’s crayons, you should read our article on reliable ways to get crayon off your wall.)

For stubborn smudges, stains, and scuffs, dip a damp cloth in baking soda and rub lightly on the tough spots. Baking soda has excellent abrasive action that might clean the problem.

Step 5: Clean the wall with an eraser sponge

If all else fails to work, dampen a melamine eraser sponge with water. Next, use soft, gentle touches on the affected area, as rubbing hard can leave shiny spots on the wall or remove the paint. Periodically check the sponge to see if the paint has transferred onto it.

Step 6: Use touch-up paint

Finally, if you notice glossy patches or a portion with removed paint after using the above cleaning steps, get out the original paint can and a painter's brush to touch up the walls. The original paint is always better than new paint as matching colors perfectly is hard to nigh on impossible. Try feathering the borders to blend the fresh paint with the previous flat paint.

Tips for keeping flat paint walls clean

  • Avoid touching the walls with your hands, as they are the primary cause of stains and marks. If you notice any fingerprint stain, wipe them off immediately.
  • Dust your walls regularly to prevent stains from lingering.
  • If you see any scuffs or scratches, use a cleaning eraser or a moist cloth with a cleaning solution to wipe them off immediately.
  • Keep samples of your paint around so you can easily touch up stubborn scruff, smudges, or stains.
  • Use air purifiers and exhaust fans. They are great for keeping airborne dust to a minimum, thus helping to keep your flat paint walls clean.
  • When vacuuming, avoid bumping into walls or baseboards with your vacuum cleaner. This will help reduce the amount of scuff and scrapes on your wall. Also, if any of your furniture is next to your wall, pull it out a little. 
  • If you have kids, try to teach them not to draw on walls but on drawing notebooks. If they won’t listen, you may need our guide to removing sharpie marks from walls

How to touch up flat paint walls

Step 1: Repair any damage

If you have a dent or hole in your wall, you’ll need to repair it before applying paint. 

  • Fill the dent or hole with a drywall compound or spackle. 
  • Leave it to dry. Then, sand smooth. 
  • For larger holes, you will need to replace sections of drywall. 

Step 2: Clean

Paint adheres best to a clean surface. Therefore, before you begin your touch-up, carefully clean the affected area. 

  • Dip a cloth in a mixture of water and detergent.
  • Squeeze out the cleaning solution.
  • Rub gently on the affected area.
  • Next, use another cloth dampened with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  • Leave it to dry.

Step 3: Use the same color paint and paint applicator for touch-up

For touch-ups, it’s important to follow these steps

  • Use the same color and brand of paint currently on your walls. If you don’t do this, there will be a noticeable disparity between the place you touched up and the rest of the wall. The original paint your wall was first painted with always be better than a more recent batch because of the difficulty of color matching. 
  • It’s also imperative that you repaint flat paint with flat paint.
  • While matching colors and brands are important, the texture left by a paint applicator also plays an important role. Use the same brush or roller used to paint the walls initially for touch-ups.

If you have the same color, type, and brand of paint and texture of brush, it’s time to paint.

  • Paint the cleaned spot in the same direction as the other parts of the wall. 
  • Since touch-ups can range from a small spot to a large part of the wall, you also want to be careful not to use a lot of paint. Instead, start with a small amount of paint and then paint another coat if needed.

Clean your flat paint walls with no stress

Cleaning flat paint walls require patience and attention to detail. Fortunately, you can easily clean walls with flat paints for appearance and hygiene by following the steps and tips outlined in this article.

If you need help keeping your flat paint walls clean, Homeaglow is always ready to assist. Find and hire the right cleaner online now.

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