How to Clean Different Types of Paint Finishes


by Houston Texas Painters - October 16, 2017

How to Clean Different Types of Paint Finishes

It’s rather upsetting to see your painted walls get dirty or stained when you’re still going through that phase of admiring them. But then again, you can’t expect them to look fresh and fabulous forever. Mainly if you have kids and pets, grubby hands and dirty paws are bound to wind up on your walls and leave marks or paw prints on them.

Now that you’ve come to face the facts, it’s time to learn how to safely and efficiently clean your walls by the type of paint finish. Many individuals refrain from cleaning painted walls in fear of damaging the finish, but with the following methods and tips shared below, you can safely make your walls look as good as new! Here are 3 different types of paint finishes and how to clean them properly.

  1. Latex Paint

There are several types of finishes for latex paints ranging from matte to high gloss; while cleaning the latter is easy, the former requires more careful and gentle cleaning (we’ll discuss how to clean matte – flat paint – finishes later). For semi-gloss, satin or even eggshell finishes, use the following cleaning method:

  • Use a dust cloth (preferably an electrostatic one) to wipe the area so that dust and dirt are removed.
  • Make a mild solution of warm water and a multipurpose cleaner, like dishwashing soap,  that does not contain any bleaching agents.
  • Dip a soft sponge in the solution; squeeze out at least half of the water and gently begin wiping the stained or dirty area using circular motions.

If stubborn marks do not come out, apply a paste of water and baking soda to the wall. Gently rub the area with a soft cloth.

  1. Oil-Based Paints

Any wall with an oil-based paint is easy to clean because of its glossy finish. Nevertheless, it’s important to do it the right way to ensure that you do not damage the paint finish in the process.

  • In 2 cups of water, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and half a tablespoon of dish soap and stir it up.
  • Dip a soft cloth into the solution to dampen it (squeeze out excess water, if any) and gently wipe your painted walls clean!  
  1. Flat Paints

This is the tricky one; dirt clings to this type of finish while cleaning it risks damaging or removing paint. Hence, you need to pay close attention to these cleaning tips to clean flat paint correctly:

  • Soak and wring a soft cloth in water and gently try wiping away dirt or stains.
  • If detergent is needed, make an incredibly mild solution and increase the strength until it is effective in removing stains. Be sure to double check the paint finish after each wipe to ensure that it is not being damaged.
  • A melamine foam cleanser (bleach and ammonia free) can help remove stubborn stains; however, you run the risk of damaging the finish if you use too much or rub too hard.

Before you try any of the above methods, test your solution and technique out in an inconspicuous area and allow it to dry completely to check if any damage has been done. By taking the necessary precautions and using the tips above, you will be able to clean your painted walls like a pro!