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How To Clean Walls With Flat Paint

A woman dusting her flat painted wall ready for cleaning

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Typically, a person would choose to use flat paint if they seek a matte finish to their walls. However, it’s essential to know that your flat paint will need to be washed or cleaned frequently, and learning How to Clean Walls with Flat Paint is a crucial skill.

Flat paints are usually found in newly constructed homes, and usually, bedroom walls and living rooms are painted using this finish. This finish is popular as it can easily be rolled or sprayed onto your wall, as well as helping to disguise any imperfections.

However, the matte finish can make your walls look dingy and scruffy as it makes it easier for stains to stand out. Anything from greasy smudges to scuffs and grime can cover your walls, creating an unprofessional appearance.

With these defects and discolorations showing, it can immediately impact the ambiance and cleanliness of your home. Even if you clean your home throughout, leaving the walls still reflects a dirty house.

Although you may be able to remove some grease marks from your wall with a damp cloth, there are some special steps you will need to take to thoroughly remove all grime without causing any damage to your flat paint walls.

If you scrub your flat paint walls too harshly, the finish may wear down and begin to flake, as well as making the sheen patchy in some places.

It’s important to remember that when you discover how to clean walls with flat paint, flat paint is delicate and requires a gentle touch. Otherwise, you may create a more significant task than you originally started with.

If it’s your first time cleaning your flat paint walls or just generally unsure, our step-by-step guide will help you plan and execute your cleaning process for an immaculate flat paint wall.

So, continue reading our guide so you can better understand How to Clean Walls with Flat Paint.

Benefits of Using Flat Paint

Matte paint or flat paint helps to create a subtle and smooth finish while showing a small amount of sheen when fully cured– as it absorbs light.

Flat paints are frequently used in living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and ceilings because of their ability to cover up blemishes.

As with any painting job, whether doing your DIY task or calling in a contractor, you are subjected to minor mistakes or imperfections.

Flat paints or matte paints help cover up any imperfections or mistakes on your walls by reducing their visibility.

Drawbacks of Using Flat Paint

Along with the positives of flat paints, there are some drawbacks as well. Smudging, scuffing, and durability are the main negatives that crop up when analyzing matte paints.

If you notice smudging or scuffing, the best thing to do is clean your walls, but you must start by doing as little as possible. If you then feel you need to take further measures to restore your walls, then ensure your research methods in-depth so you don’t ruin the integrity of the finish.

You have to clean your walls, but it’s worth noting that excessive scouring or rubbing can course your paint to look discolored, uneven and can cause your paint to be removed from the drywall.

Also, flat paints do not react well to moisture, so they are not suitable to put in either your bathrooms (behind toilets or sinks), kitchens, or garage doors.

Hot Tip: Don’t start off using harsh chemicals or treatments. Likely, you will not get the perfect-looking wall that you were aiming for. Remember, less is better than more when it comes to cleaning flat paint walls.

How Often Should I Clean my Flat Painted Walls?

Along with your standard scheduled chores, you should aim to dust and remove any cobwebs from your wall at least once a month, and twice a month is even better.

Doorknobs and light switches should be dusted and cleaned as soon as you recognize any smudges or dirt around them.

In terms of a deep-clean, flat paint will react badly to being wet thoroughly. It would help if you tried to keep your deep cleans to once or twice a year and plan on repainting your room.

It’s also good to know how frequently you should paint your house, including your walls, so check out our trusted guide for further information.

Figuring Out if Your Wall has Been Flat Painted

Before you start cleaning your flat paint walls, you must determine if your wall has flat paint applied to them.

Remember: The term flat paint does not refer to the texture of the walls. It refers to the paint applied to the wall as being a flat matte finish.

As the matte texture does not reflect light, it’s recognized for its ability to hide imperfections on your home’s walls and ceilings.

Furthermore, if you notice that your wall absorbs the light rather than reflecting the light, that generally means that your wall is flat painted.

Key Insight: With gloss levels as low as 0 to 10 percent, it’s safe to trust that your walls have a flat paint finish if they do not reflect any light from any given angle.  

Before You Start

It’s safe to say that all flat paints can be dusted using a feather duster. However, when it comes to cleaning, it’s ideal for testing your cleaning products in a discreet area before applying them to a large surface area. You should also bear in mind:

  • Cover and electrical equipment using painter’s tape, or if you do not have any tape you can turn of your power supply for the room you plan to clean.
  • Whether you are using water and soap, or water and vinegar to clean your walls, you should start cleaning from the top of the wall down to the bottom. Doing this will eliminate the need to clean areas twice from any drips and streaks.
  • Protect your floors using a plastic sheet or drop cloth when using your water solutions to cut down your cleaning processes.

Equipment: Cleaning Materials

cleaning equipment to wipe down walls, for article how to clean walls with flat paint
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As noted, to start with, you should keep your cleaning process as simplistic as possible, so using some clean water with a clean sponge or cloth is appropriate.

Starting simple with water and a sponge or cloth will allow you to easily target sections section by section before moving on to different areas that may be dirtier.

However, if you want to gather all of your cleaning supplies upfront, you can do so.  

As well as having a bowl of clean water and a clean sponge or cloth, you can also have at hand white vinegar, liquid dish soap, an eraser sponge, and a foam cleansing product.

Important: The sooner you notice and clean any stains or dirt marks from flat paint, the better. If you leave them for a long period, naturally, the stains and grime become a lot harder to clean, which may lead to further damage to your paintwork.

Remove Wall Pictures and Move Furniture

Remove any items hanging up on your walls, such as pictures, and move any furniture near the walls away. This will make your cleaning process a lot easier and more effective by giving you space to move a stool around to reach all areas.

Prepare the Walls

It’s important to fully prepare the area you are planning to work on, so before using any cleaning fluids or water, your first step is to remove any dry dust or debris that may be stuck on your walls. This can quickly be done by using a feather duster or even a towel. Just gently sweep over the area and ensure any dust and debris have been removed.

Cloth, Sponge, and Water

After preparing your area, you should use some warm water with either your clean sponge or cloth.

On some occasions, water can be enough to remove any stains and avoid the use of any harsh chemicals. Water usually tends to work when you tackle stains and grime as soon as they become visible to you. If you leave them, then water is less likely to be effective.

Vinegar and Water

If you find that water alone is not helping to remove your marks and grime, try adding a few drops of vinegar to your water and then gently scrub your walls over the stained areas.

Cleaning Pad or Eraser Sponge

If your stain is stubborn or persistent, the next step is to take out your specialty sponge, such as the Magic Eraser. They are not rough, so if you use them gently when scrubbing your walls, you should not have to worry about ruining your wall. If you have some foam cleanser, you can add a few drops to your eraser sponge.

Be Mindful: When this type of sponge wears out, it can leave a white residue on your walls, especially if your walls are painted in dark colors like navy, brown, green, or dark grey.

Diluted Detergent

The last cleaning method you can try is using diluted detergent or standard dish soap. Using one tablespoon of your detergent or soap to one gallon of water should be plenty. Now using your sponge or cloth, dip it into the mixed solution and again gently scrub the stained area to remove what remains of the stain.


Whether or not the diluted detergent worked to clear your stains, it’s important to rinse your walls with warm water as it may leave a soapy residue and stickiness on your walls. Using a towel, pat the area dry and make sure it’s completely dry.

Remember: Do not harshly scrub the paint when you are drying with your towel.

Touch Up Paint

If you are finding that nothing can remove your grime or stains, then your next best option is to use a can of touch-up paint. Compared to other paint types such as satin or semi-gloss, flat paints are a lot easier to touch up. The paint on your wall mustn’t be dirty, patchy, or faded. This way, the spot you are applying your touch-up paint will match seamlessly once dried.

Last Resort- Repaint

If you’ve exhausted all over options and they have all failed, the only thing left to do is repaint the entire wall. You may want to use a more durable sheen. Using an eggshell finish with a 10 to 25 percent gloss will increase its durability and make it a lot easier to clean than your previously used flat paint. Although this will take you a lot more time and preparation, you may be better off over time and give a beautifully painted wall with your desired look.

Conclusion: How to Clean Walls with Flat Paint

Flat paints are usually found in newly constructed homes and are popular as they can easily be rolled or sprayed onto your wall, as well as helping to disguise any imperfections.

The matte finish can make your walls look dingy and scruffy as it makes it easier for stains to stand out, creating an unprofessional appearance.

Using a few simple household products and tools, you can have your walls look a lot cleaner in just a couple of hours- depending on the area you are cleaning.

Along with your standard scheduled chores, you should aim to dust and remove any cobwebs from your wall at least once a month, and twice a month is even better.

Make sure your check to see if your wall has been flat painted, and the trick is all to do with reflections. If it’s flat painted, the light should bounce off your wall.

The sooner you notice and clean any stains or dirt marks from flat paint, the better. If you leave them for a long period, naturally, the stains and grime become a lot harder to clean.

Regardless of the solutions used to clean your walls, it would help to start cleaning from the top of the wall down to the bottom.


Are all paints scrubbable?

This is not true! Many paint products are NOT designed to be scrubbable or washable. Doing so could damage, distort or fade the color finish of the paint resulting in a blemished look. If you need paint that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis, like in a bathroom or on cabinet doors, buy paint products designed to be washable and cleanable.

All Sheen levels clean the same

False – the higher the sheen level (gloss level) of the paint the easier it is to clean. Flat sheen paint is usually the hardest to clean and usually the least durable. A rule of thumb is that the higher the sheen level, the more durable the paint. Also the more durable the paint, the easier it is to clean. However higher sheen level paint shows more imperfections while flat or matte sheen paint has soft finishes and hides imperfections. NOTE – some top brands make scrubbable kitchen and bath paints that come in flat and matte sheen levels. It’s always best to speak to your local paint retail rep if this is a concern.
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