How to Clean Walls with Flat Paint without Ruining Them

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

Landlords often use cheap flat paint on walls in apartments. Flat paint is any paint with a matte finish. Whether you’re moving out soon and hoping to regain your security deposit or you simply don’t like that your walls are dirty, this guide will help you clean your walls, so that they look good as new.

Flat paint is hard to clean because it is typically cheap and can wear under extensive scrubbing or harsh chemicals. However, there are a few simple methods that you can employ to clean the flat paint on your walls and make it look like new. You can use several products that are commonly found in the household in order to clean such walls.

Materials You’ll Need to Clean Your Walls with Flat Paint

Step 1: Remove All Wall Art and Furniture from the Area

In order to make your walls accessible for cleaning, it is important to remove all of your pictures from the wall and move the furniture away from the affected walls.

Take pictures and paintings off of their hooks carefully and lay them flat. Then, move all of your furniture into the center of the room to clear the space around the walls so that you can reach high spots with a step stool.

Step 2: Try Water

The first option when cleaning walls with flat paint is to simply try using water to scrub off any smudges or dirt. Because water does not contain harsh chemicals, there is no chance that this method will damage the paint on your walls.

Take a sponge or microfiber cloth soaked in water and use a circular motion to clean the smudges off of your wall.

Step 3: Try Vinegar

If simple water does not work to remove smudges, the next step is to create a vinegar and water solution to tackle the problem. You can use about one half cup of white vinegar per quart of water to create a cleaning solution.

As with the simple water method, just take a sponge soaked in the solution and rub it in circles across the affected area.

Step 4: Try Baking Soda

If vinegar does not work to remove dirt and stains, the next step is to try baking soda. You can create a baking soda paste by mixing three parts baking soda with one part water. You can then apply this paste to the affected area, let it sit for several minutes, and wipe it clean.

This should remove most smudges from walls painted with matte paint.

Step 5: Try Detergent

If vinegar and baking soda do not work on your wall, you can try using dish soap or laundry detergent to remove stains.

Again, simply add half a cup of detergent to one quart of water and dip your sponge or cloth in it. Apply it in circular motions to the wall and rub gently until the stain is removed.

Step 6: Try an Eraser Sponge

If the above methods do not work as well, you can try an eraser sponge like this. These sponges are designed to remove stains and smudges from flat surfaces such as walls, bathroom tile, and sinks.

Simply take the sponge, moisten it with water, and apply to your wall in circular motions. This method will remove almost all smudges or stains from your walls.

Step 7: Apply Touch-up Paint

If all the previous methods fail, the next option is to apply touch-up paint over the affected areas. It is essential that you match the touch-up paint perfectly with the wall paint, both in color and in finish.

You should buy a matte finish paint that matches your walls exactly. If the new paint does not match the existing paint on your walls, you may end up with mismatched patches that look ugly.

A simple way to match paint is to cut a small square of paint off of your wall and bring it to your local Home Depot or Lowe’s. There, the associates will be able to match your paint exactly and give you the perfect color with which to touch up your walls.

Once you have your paint, take a small paint brush and apply a small amount of paint to the wall. Try to feather it so that it blends in with the rest of the wall and does not leave a strange looking spot on your wall.

Final Option: Repaint the Wall

If all else fails, your final option is to repaint the entire wall with a matching paint color. This is an option in cases like large swathes of crayon stains.

Remove a small piece of paint from the wall using a box cutter and take the sample to your local Home Depot or Lowe’s. They will match the paint color and finish and sell you as much paint as you need for your project.

A general rule is that you should have one gallon of paint for every 400 square feet of wall. To find the square footage of your wall, simply measure the height and width of your wall and multiply them. Make sure to buy enough paint for your entire project to avoid additional trips to the store.

Once you have your paint, use paint rollers or even a large brush to paint the entire wall, covering up the stains or smudges. This will give you a fresh, clean-looking surface that you can be proud of.

In Conclusion

While cleaning walls painted with matte paint may seem intimidating, it is actually quite easy. You can use things like vinegar, baking soda, or eraser sponges to remove stains from your walls.

In the case of crayon marks or other difficult to remove markings, you can apply touch-up paint to cover the affected area, making the damage invisible. You can even repaint the entire wall if need be.

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About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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