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How To Clean Walls With Flat Paint or Matte PaintMay 11th, 2023 by
Do you have crayon, marker, or pen marks on your matte paint walls? Maybe your flat paint is covered in dirty fingerprints. Although different, matte and flat paints are extremely prone to getting dirt, especially in high-traffic areas. Even worse, using the wrong thing can actually damage the paint. No matter the cause of the dirt or stain, the following steps explain how to clean walls with flat or matte paint.
How To Clean Flat Paint Walls
Cleaning flat paint walls requires a bit of care. Harsh cleaning agents or excessive scrubbing can damage or discolor flat and matte finishes. Here are some steps you can follow when cleaning your flat paint walls:
1. Gather Supplies
Here are the supplies you will need to clean flat or matte paint walls:
- Soft microfiber clothes (at least three)
- Dish soap
- Bowl or bucket
- Cleaning eraser sponge(s)
- Rubber gloves (optional)
2. Dust Walls Gently
If you are cleaning the entire wall, gently dust it with a soft microfiber cloth. This will remove dirt and dust on the surface that can scratch matte and flat paints.
When removing stains and marks, be extremely cautious when dusting the wall. Even subtle pressure can spread the stain. Instead, dab the microfiber cloth very gently around the stained area.
Since the microfiber material will collect dirt and debris, avoid reusing it.
3. Clean With Vinegar and Dish Soap
White vinegar and dish soap make one of the most effective household cleaning solutions. The vinegar is strong enough to loosen dirt and stains but mild enough not to ruin the finish of matte and flat paints. Dish soap is effective on most stains and is naturally tough on grease, oil, wax, and most inks.
The secret to cleaning matte painted walls is to use wring out the cloth as much as possible. This prevents the vinegar from discoloring the paint or soaking into the wall.
For stains, add a cup of vinegar and just one drop of dish soap to a small bowl. If you are cleaning the entire wall surface, use at least a quart of vinegar and two to three drops of dish soap.
In either case, swirl the mixture to combine. Then dip a fresh microfiber cloth in and wring it out. Using very light pressure, wash the wall. Work in small sections and watch for drips or runs that can stain flat and matte finishes.
Once you finish washing the matte paint, set the microfiber cloth aside and get a new one. This limits the risk of spreading vinegar on the walls and potentially discoloring the flat and matte paint finishes.
Alternatively, you can rinse it thoroughly in the sink. Rinse the cloth under warm water for at least five minutes, alternating between saturating the cloth and wringing it out.
4. Rinse Flat Paint With Cool Water
After cleaning flat-painted walls, rinse the area with cool, clean water and a microfiber cloth. Like the previous step, wring out the cloth thoroughly so it is barely damp.
Use only gentle pressure to wipe away any remaining vinegar and soap. Continue wiping the wall with the damp cloth until you have rinsed the entire area.
5. Scrub Stains With a Cleaning Eraser
If the stain remains, gently scrub the flat paint with a magic cleaning eraser. These erasers are made of a soft sponge material that is great at getting stains off many surfaces.
Start by using gentle pressure and check the stain frequently. Avoid scrubbing too hard because this can wear away most flat and matte paints. Once the stain is gone, wipe the area with cool, clean water again.
6. Dry the Wall
Lastly, use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to dry the wall surface. This will prevent water from soaking into flat or matte paint, which can discolor the finish.
Tips for Cleaning Flat or Matte Paint Walls
In addition to the steps outlined above, here are some tips for removing stains and dirt from matte and flat-finished walls.
- Use as little liquid as possible when cleaning. Vinegar and water can soak into the paint and cause stains, discolor the paint, or even cause the paint to drip and run.
- Avoid using too much pressure when cleaning flat paint. The finish on matte and flat paints is thin. Too much scrubbing can wear the paint away.
- Never use a scrub brush, abrasive sponge, or abrasive cleaners on matte paint. The grit and texture can scratch the paint, causing it to peel and wear off the wall.
- You cannot paint over most stains. While painting may seem easier, cleaning flat paint, dirt, oil, and grime will cause paint to peel over time. Always clean matte paint before repainting. The only exception to this rule is markers and pen marks.
How To Tell if You Have Matte Paint or Flat Paint Walls
If you are unsure whether your walls are finished in flat paint or matte paint, you can check with two simple tests. First, use a flashlight to check for a shine or sheen on the wall finish. Hold the flashlight to the wall at an angle and check for a shine or reflection.
Nearly all flat paints and most matte paints will have almost no reflection or shine at all. Some matte paints will have just the slightest hint of a sheen. In comparison, even eggshell and satin finishes will have a sheen under the light. Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints will appear very reflective and shiny.
Second, rub your finger on the wall. Since matte and flat paints have a dry, almost rough, texture, your finger will not move across the surface smoothly. In contrast, your finger will glide across gloss paints smoothly.
What Is the Difference Between Matte and Flat Paint?
In most cases, the terms flat paint and matte paint are used interchangeably because the differences are extremely subtle. However, some brands do make a distinction between the two. Also, flat and matte paint from one brand might differ slightly from other brands.
Strictly speaking, there is a slight difference between flat and matte paint finishes. Matte paints have a subtle sheen that gives the walls an extremely dull shine. In comparison, flat paints have no sheen or shine at all.
Matte paint is generally easier to clean than flat paint because it has a slightly rougher texture that helps resist dirt and grime build-up. However, both finishes require gentle cleaning methods to prevent damage to the paint.