How to Clean Walls Painted with Flat Paint

A painter covering a white wall in yellow interior paint.
What You'll Need
Clean rags
Spray foam cleanser
Laundry detergent

While flat paint is a great way to cover your walls, there are many situations in which it can stain or become dirty. When this happens, it is important to clean it as soon as possible. Stains left alone will only get worse and more difficult to clean as time passes. However, it is easy to damage paint by using improper cleaning techniques as well, so removing dirt and stains can be intimidating. There are fortunately several ways to reliably remove even the toughest blemishes from flat paint while minimizing the chances of damaging it. What follows should give you everything you need in order to get your flat paint looking spotless.

Wiping the Walls

In some cases, it is possible for a stain to look more difficult than it actually is, so it is important to start out with the least harsh methods you can.

Get out one of your clean rags and soak it in water; then, wring it out so it is only damp. Use the damp rag to wipe off the stained area. Continue until you are satisfied that the stain is gone, or you are sure that this technique is having no effect.

Try a Foam Cleanser

While using the mildest methods is a good idea, sometimes they do not work. In this case, it is necessary to use something stronger. However, you should always remember that harsher methods have an increased chance to damage your paint, and it is important that you not be too quick to go on to the next method.

Spray your foam cleanser onto your stain. Your particular brand of cleanser should have more specific instructions, but when you have sprayed the foam and waited the appropriate amount of time, wipe it off with another clean damp rag.

Use Detergent

If spray foam cleanser does not remove the stain to your satisfaction, you may want to use laundry detergent to remove it. However, laundry detergent is much too harsh to be used on paint undiluted and will damage it under normal conditions. Because of this, it is important to water down your detergent before using it to clean your flat paint.

Measure out one gallon of water and put it in your bucket. Next, measure one tablespoon of laundry detergent and mix it in. Stir the two together thoroughly, and once you have done this, dip a new clean rag into the mixture. Wipe off the stain with the rag, continuing until it has been removed.

It can be a good idea to first test out the detergent and water solution on your flat paint in an inconspicuous location. By doing this, you can see if it damages the paint at all, without ruining the area's appearance. If it damages the paint badly, you may decide that a small stain is less unattractive than badly damaged paint, and opt to leave it alone.