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There are many benefits to using flat paint on your walls, but one major disadvantage: without the protection of a glossy surface, flat paint picks up dirt really easily. Having dirty walls is nothing short of unsightly, but we have you covered with everything you need to know on how to clean walls with flat paint. While flat paint is prone to scuffing and absorbing oil and dirt, this does not mean you will need to admit defeat and look at stained walls forever. Below, we have provided you with a guide on how to clean flat paint walls with no fuss!
Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding Flat Paint
- 2 Pre-Cleaning Preparation
- 3 Cleaning Techniques
- 4 Tips for Maintaining Flat Paint Walls
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding Flat Paint
It is easy to misunderstand what flat paint is, but understand that it has nothing to do with the texture of the wall. Flat paint is a term used in the industry to refer to paint that has a matte finish. This type of paint has 0% to 10% gloss, which makes it perfect for hiding imperfections in accent walls as well as ceilings. The soft appearance of light when it falls on flat paint makes this type of finish equally suitable for rustic, traditional, Scandi-style, classic, and modern interiors.
Flat paint and moisture do not work well together, which is why it is very important to know how to clean flat paint and where you should use it. It is not a good idea to use flat paint in bathrooms and kitchens because of the high humidity level, but these paints are perfect for bedrooms and dining areas along with doors and trim pieces.
Unfortunately, cleaning flat paint is not as simple as taking a cloth and scrubbing the surface until the dirt is removed. This will more than likely remove some of the paint too – which is the last thing that you would want. This is why it is important to learn how to clean matte walls without removing the paint itself.
The Importance of Cleaning Walls
Much like any other chore that you would have, it is important to tackle your walls too. Having dirty or scuffed walls does not look good and it could give your home a shabby look regardless of how clean it really is. While flat painted walls should regularly be dusted, you should immediately remove dirt and smudges around light switches and door knobs.
Leaving the dirt on the surface for too long will result in you scrubbing the surface, which will remove the paint. This is the last thing that you need, but the good news is that the dirt can be removed with water if you act quickly enough.
Now we will move on to how to clean walls with flat paint and everything else that you would need to know.
Before you can begin cleaning the dirt off the walls, it is important to ensure that you are prepared for the task at hand. With most DIY projects, cleaning is part of the preparation, but in this case, you will need to take the steps that are necessary to ensure that you are able to do a good job.
Gather Necessary Supplies
The last thing you would want is to start doing something and discover that you do not have the appropriate supplies with you. There are a variety of materials and tools that are needed to ensure that you are able to clean flat walls with ease. Take a look at the list below.
- Baking soda
- Warm water
- Distilled white vinegar
- Dishwashing soap
- Plastic tarps
- Small soft paintbrush or detailer’s brush
- Spray bottle
- Microfiber cloth
- Step ladder
- Touch-up paint (optional)
Protect Surrounding Areas
While you should remove everything from the wall that you would be cleaning, it is also important to ensure that the surrounding furniture and floor are covered. Getting a cleaning solution on either will defeat the purpose of cleaning the wall as your floor and furniture will be ruined. By protecting the surrounding area, you will be able to focus on the task at hand without the fear of staining your sofa or leaving watermarks on your floor.
However, you might be tempted to squeeze into a gap between a cabinet and a chair; however, we implore you to move the furniture instead and cover the floor. These extra steps will save you from a much bigger problem further down the line.
Test Cleaning Solution on a Small Area
To ensure that the cleaning solution will work on the dirt or stain on your flat wall, it is a good idea to test a bit of the cleaning solution on a small portion instead of trying to use it right off the bat. The focus is not only on the stain but also on the effect that the cleaning solution will have on the wall.
It is important to pay attention to the effect that the cleaning solution has on the wall. If you find that it is too harsh on the paint, then it is best to stop and dry the surface with your microfiber cloth.
We would always recommend starting with warm water and gradually increasing the strength of the solution until you get the desired results.
When you are learning how to clean walls with flat paint, you will quickly realize that not all stains are equal. Whether you have kids that have discovered their affinity for finger painting or you are clumsy enough to get oil stains on the wall, each type of stain requires a different approach.
One of the main reasons that flat paints are so difficult to clean is because of their porous texture. This allows the paint to trap grime and dirt among other things. Fortunately, we have provided a guide on how to remove different types of stains from flat paint.
Before you can begin cleaning the wall, you should take the time to remove dried dust and dirt from the surface. More importantly, it is vital not to get any moisture onto the dust as this will cause the dust to cling to the surface and once you wipe the surface, you will spread the dirt, making a much bigger mess.
Instead, use a feather duster to remove dust and cobwebs, this will make the process effortless. Once this is done, you can use a dry microfiber cloth or even a paper towel to wipe down the surface to ensure that all of the dry dirt and dust has been removed.
Ensure that you wipe lightly, as a heavy hand will remove some of the paint from the wall.
When learning how to clean flat paint walls, it is important to understand how to identify different types of stains. As previously mentioned, each stain should be treated differently and we would advise you not to start scrubbing a stain.
Always start by rubbing some warm water on the stain, and this is usually enough to remove it, particularly if the stain itself is still fresh. If this does not work, there are different techniques to use depending on the type of stain that you are dealing with. These stains can be classified as either water-based or oil-based stains.
A 3:1 ratio of water to bleach is the most effective method for removing water-based stains from walls. However, because we are working with flat walls, it is best to start with water and gradually increase the amount of bleach that is used. With a soft paintbrush or detailers brush, use a circular motion to agitate the stain before wiping it with a dry microfiber cloth.
Water-based stains are easier to clean as they generally consist of wine, food, and different condiments. However, the longer you allow the stain to sit on the surface of flat paint, you will have a much harder time removing it. The good news is that you could get away with using warm water and dishwashing soap to clean it.
This is where it can get very difficult, especially if you are learning how to clean matte walls without removing paint. Oil-based stains are generally the result of crayons, shoe polish, grease, and so on. With these stains, you will start with water and dishwashing liquid, but if this does not work, you will need to use something stronger.
Distilled white vinegar mixed with warm water will do the job with fresh stains, but you will need to use baking soda on more stubborn stains such as baking soda. Other compounds such as peroxide work wonders on stains that have rich pigments such as wine.
If the stain is taking a long time to fade, do not scrub harder, as this will start stripping the paint.
Wiping the Walls
Once the stain has been removed, it is important to wipe down the wall to remove any leftover detergent or cleaning agents. Use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the wall. If you leave any detergent sitting on the wall, it could end up damaging the paint.
Ensure that you wipe down the entire wall, so use a step ladder to get to the top of the wall.
Drying the Walls
Once you have wiped the wall, it is a good idea to dry the wall with a dry cloth. Once the wall is completely dry, you will be able to see any imperfections and then you can decide if you would like to repaint the wall. Nevertheless, once the wall is dried, you will be able to see the true state of the surface.
Tips for Maintaining Flat Paint Walls
Wall maintenance is not something that is often on our to-do list. However, to ensure that the paint lasts a long time, regular cleaning is not enough. Below we have provided some important tips to ensure that you are able to use them once you have learned how to clean walls with flat paint.
Avoid Using Abrasive Materials
Abrasive materials and flat walls do not go together. This is mainly because of how easy it is to peel the paint, but you should also consider the age of the paint job. Paint eventually starts to wear after a certain period and flat paint is softer than enamel variations, which makes it much more difficult to clean because it holds dirt. This means that regular cleaning is needed and you need to use soft materials such as microfiber cloths instead of scrubbing pads.
Regularly Clean the Walls
As we have mentioned, flat walls need to be cleaned regularly since they tend to hold onto dirt and dust. Cleaning this paint is very difficult and requires a lot of patience because if you are not gentle, you will remove the finish of the paint.
By cleaning the wall regularly or when you see a fresh stain, it is best to give it a light wipe down instead of battling stubborn stains every few months.
Touch-Up Any Damaged Areas
Since flat paint is prone to damage, particularly if you are very rough with the stain removal process, it is best to have some touch-up paint of the same color on hand. Once you have cleaned and dried the wall, it will be easy to find the imperfections that can be filled in.
Now that you know how to clean walls with flat paint, you will be able to keep your home looking immaculate all year round. Keep in mind that this is not something that can be rushed, but once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly satisfying to remove stubborn stains from your beautiful paint job. Happy cleaning!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Easy to Learn How to Clean Flat Paint?
Learning how to clean this type of paint is not difficult, but it also depends on the type of stains that you have. Some are more difficult to remove than others, so it is important to know how to remove each type of stain.
What Is the Best Material to Clean Flat Paint?
Warm and damp microfiber cloths are great for cleaning flat paint. For more stubborn stains, we would recommend that you use dishwashing soap or distilled vinegar.
How Can I Get Crayon Wax off a Flat Paint Wall?
Removing crayon stains from flat paint walls is an extremely difficult task. However, a cleaning eraser or mayonnaise will be able to remove fresh crayon markings. Mayonnaise has oils that break down the wax, which makes it easy for you to remove the stain without damaging the paint.
Rebecca is an art maniac since childhood. She started writing for craft-art.com 2 years ago and is also craft-art.com’s blog post editor. After graduating from Cornell University and working for a local art gallery, she discovered her enthusiasm for writing and combined this with her affinity for the creative world.