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How to Clean Walls with Flat Paint

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Home Maintenance, Interior Painting

Every homeowner has different needs when it comes to interior painting.  Some people have small children and pets that rub against the walls every day.  Others almost never touch their walls and really can get away with a fully flat paint sheen no problem. 

As professional Portland interior painters, we ask all of our clients how often they think they will need to clean their walls and also what look are they hoping to achieve. Some owners really do like more sheen as it can reflect light better and make your home brighter.  The ultimate decision is always up to the homeowner but we try to steer them in the right direction so they are not having to repaint too often.

How to Clean Walls with Flat Paint

Flat paint can look amazing on interior walls as it does not reflect any light or look too glossy which some homeowners do not like.  Walls with flat paint are much harder to clean than paint that has a sheen to it.  Stains and dust tend to stick to flat walls much easier which can make it hard if you have children or pets to keep them clean.  We normally don’t recommend flat paint for homeowners that think they will need to clean walls very often.  An eggshell or satin finish can hold up much better over time and easily be cleaned multiple times.  

Important Considerations When Cleaning Flat Paint Walls

When homeowners try to clean walls that have flat paint it can often turn out looking worse than before and it can remove the paint from the walls.  You must be very careful cleaning stains or dust from flat walls.  

How to Tell If You Have Flat Paint Walls

You can usually tell if you have flat paint on your walls by looking at a wall that has natural light showing on it.  Look from an angle and see if the wall is reflecting light or if it appears to absorb the light.  It can also feel more chalky than paint with a sheen.  

cleaning flat paint walls

How to Clean Flat Paint Walls: Materials Needed

Some flat paints are more durable than others.  The lower-quality builders’ paints can be almost impossible to clean effectively.  The higher quality paints are much easier to clean so keep that in mind if you want to use flat paint and have it last a long time.  

We normally recommend using a dry towel or a hand duster to start with to remove any loose dust and hopefully remove the item that is on your wall.  Try lightly wiping the affected area and see if you get the results you are hoping for.  

If you did not get the affected area clean with a dry towel you can try using a soft towel with water or a non-abrasive sponge.  Warm water can be less damaging than trying to use a chemical cleaner so we recommend trying that first.  Clean with small circular motions and test a small area first to see if it is helping before doing a huge area on the wall.  

If water does not do the trick you can add a small amount of soap to the warm water and mix together before applying it to the walls.  You can use mild dish soap for best results.  You can also try a laundry detergent or white vinegar as options if needed.

You can do a light rinse with just warm water after you apply a soap for cleaning as it will help remove any residue on the surfaces.  Lightly dab a dry towel to remove water when done and see how it looks.      

What Not to Do When Cleaning Flat Paint Walls

We recommend not using harsh cleaning chemicals to clean your walls or any abrasive sponges.  Gentle cleaning is the key to avoid making it look worse.  Test small areas to see if you can get the results before you go full out on a large area as it can get much worse in some cases.  

We’ll Get Your Home Looking It’s Absolute Best

If you can’t get your walls clean, you may need to repaint them with another coat of flat paint or possibly consider upgrading to paint with a little more sheen for future maintenance.  Touch-up painting does not work very well in most cases even if you have the original paint.  You can almost always see touch-up spots in the right light so fully painting corner to corner is the best option.  

If you’re looking for a reliable paint company in Portland, OR area, please request a free estimate here!

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