Step-by-Step: How to Clean Different Types of Wall Paint

After all those long hours of decision making, your walls have finally been covered in the colours of your dreams!

Yes, a freshly painted wall is like eye-candy for many homeowners that have looked at hundreds of colour palettes and an unfinished (or old) wall for far too long!

Now, the question is: “how do I clean my painted walls and keep them looking fabulous without ruining the finish?” Well, that will depend on the type of finish you have in the first place.

So, to make things easier for you here’s a look at some common types of paint finishes along with a step-by-step guide on how to clean them safely and efficiently. Read on!

see also: DIY Wall Painting: 3 innovative ways to create textures and patterns

Oil-Based Finish


Everyone knows that oil-based paint has a glossy finish which makes it rather easy to clean without the risk of damage.

Then again, it pays to have all the information when cleaning any type of painted wall in order to clean it safely to perfection! So, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with that.

Step 1: Remove dust and dirt from the wall by using a broom or soft dust cloth.
Step 2: Make a cleaning solution that consists of mild liquid soap (1 teaspoon), white distilled vinegar (1 tablespoon) and room temperature water (2 cups); mix well and pour the cleaner into a spray can.
Step 3: Spritz some of the solutions onto a clean microfibre (or soft) cloth to dampen it; wring the cloth to remove excess water if needed.
Step 4: Wipe over the wall using minimal pressure for a safe and effective clean.
Step 5: Wipe the wall with a clean, dry cloth as excess moisture for prolonged periods can be damaging to the finish.

Latex Finish


Since there are many types of latex finishes, we’ve classified them into three categories:

1. Gloss/Semi-Gloss
2. Eggshell
3. Flat (Matte)

For category 1, you can use the same method above for an effective, damage-free clean. In fact, high gloss finishes withstand a lot more moisture and hence, can be cleaned using a stronger solution and more pressure. On the other hand, an eggshell and flat finish require more careful cleaning methods and products for desired results. These methods differ from each other (i.e. eggshell and flat), so let’s tackle one at a time with the help of a step-by-step guide.



Step 1: Use a clean electrostatic broom or dust cloth to rid the wall of dust and dirt.
Step 2: Choose a non-bleach cleaning product to mix with room temperature water; 1 tablespoon of the cleaning agent in 2 cups of water will suffice for basic cleaning.
Step 3: Using a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge, dip it in the cleaner and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Step 4: Wipe the wall in circular motions to clean efficiently. Rinse out the cloth/sponge as and when needed.
Step 5: Blot the wall with a clean absorbent cloth to allow it to dry faster.

Flat (Matte)


Step 1: Wipe the wall with a clean dust cloth. This must be done thoroughly to ensure that no dust or dirt is smeared around when the wall is dampened (in the steps to come).
Step 2: Fill a spray can with room temperature water; add a tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in 2 cups of water for a deep cleanse.
Step 3: Spritz a clean, soft cloth just enough to dampen it with the water/vinegar solution.
Step 4: Gently wipe one small section at a time and observe the cloth for dirt. Use a fresh side/cloth as and when needed to avoid spreading and staining.
Step 5: Spot clean stains using a soft, absorbent material (such as a hand towel) and a melamine foam cleanser. Make sure that it does not contain ammonia and bleach as this can leave white patches on your paint finish. Clean in circular motions using minimal pressure.
Step 6: Blot the wall with a clean, white towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.

Tips for cleaning painted walls


• Avoid cleaning newly painted walls unless you are 100% sure that the paint has dried completely (typically, you should wait for at least 3 weeks before cleaning painted walls)
• Always test your cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of the wall; check for any damages once the wall has dried completely
• Keep your windows open and run ceiling fans when cleaning to allowing the walls to dry up quickly
• Pick a large cloth and use small sections at a time to avoid the use of multiple clean cloths
• Use minimal pressure and check the cloth every now and then for removal of colour
• Consult a professional when using specially formulated wall/paint cleaners

We hope you enjoy reading these helpful tips from our Paintmates master painters.

Karen Saunders

Karen Saunders

Karen Saunders is the content marketing manager at PaintMates. With extensive experience in the home and garden space. Karen researches and writes about home improvement.

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