How to Wash Walls with Flat Paint – The Ultimate Guide

Updated on March 2, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

Individual with gloves cleaning painted tile walls with sponge and soap

Flat paint walls are a staple in many homes due to their appealing outlook. They offer an elegant and clean look you can’t consistently achieve with glossy paint. Flat paint is typically used because it covers well and hides imperfections. It consists of more pigment than any other finish, concealing blemishes and providing a matte look.

To preserve its beauty and ensure that the walls remain fresh, it’s essential to know the right tactics to clean them. This guide will help you understand the suitable cleaning methods for walls with flat paint and ways to keep them looking fresh and new.

What Is Flat Paint?

Flat paint is a type of paint with a low or no sheen. It has a matte finish, is low in gloss, and can be used on interior and exterior surfaces. It comes in oil, latex (water-based), or alkyd (a paint that could take up to four weeks to fully dry).

There are many benefits to using flat paint over other types of paints. Some include:

  • Flat paint is low in sheen, which does not reflect light. This makes it perfect for home areas where you want a contrast, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
  • It can hide imperfections effectively because there is no shine or gloss to make colors appear lighter.
  • It is great on walls with existing textures because it will not reflect light on the bumps or ridges of the textured wall.
  • It is also an excellent choice for ceilings, as it will not show dirt marks, conspicuous spots, and excess dust as much as other types of paint.
  • Flat paint is easy to clean and can be wiped down using a clean duster without leaving any streaks. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance paint option, flat paint is the way to go.
  • Flat paint can be used on interior and exterior surfaces, making it a versatile option.

The only downside to flat paint is that it has a shorter lifespan than other types of paint. It does tend to fade faster but can be restored through effective methods such as repainting.

Some people worry that flat paint doesn’t look high-end, but several different flat paint finishes are available that can give your walls a more polished look. If you’re looking for an alternative to glossy paint, flat paint is worth considering.

Man pouring pink paint onto painting equipment on the floor covered with a cloth

How to Wash Walls With Flat Paint

Walls tend to get dirty quickly, especially if you have kids or pets. Regular cleaning with a damp cloth may be enough to keep your flat paint walls looking fresh for a short time. However, in the long term, you will need to adopt a more thorough cleaning method due to the accumulation of dirt.

You could get professional assistance to ensure that your walls are dirt-free. However, you can also implement DIY cleaning methods to save costs take the project on yourself.

  1. Determine if You Have Flat Paint Walls

Before starting the cleaning process, you must determine whether you have flat paint walls. You can do this by checking the label on your paint can or by looking at the texture or sheen of the paint.

If you have flat or matte walls, they are covered with a layer of plasticized latex-based paint which is very good at hiding imperfections and blemishes since it’s not as shiny as other paints. It has a highly smooth surface, so dust streaks and dirt particles will be less visible.

  1. Gather Your Cleaning Products and Supplies

You will need basic cleaning supplies like a bucket, plain water, a sponge, liquid soap or detergent, and a cloth to clean your walls. You will also need some white vinegar, touch-up paint, a paintbrush, and a stepladder.

  1. Wet the Walls

Fill the bucket with warm water and add the cleaning solution or laundry detergent and some white vinegar. Dip the eraser sponge into the soapy water mixture and wet the walls. Do this in sections to get all the dirt and dust off the dirty wall.

  1. Scrub the Walls

Once the walls are wet, start scrubbing the walls with an efficient soft sponge. Soak your sponge into the soapy mixture, squeeze it to remove excess liquid, and scrub the walls thoroughly until you see the dirt and grime start to disappear. 

Use circular motions to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Be sure to pay special attention to any spots or stubborn stains stuck to the walls.

Man with gloves and apron cleaning he wall with a sponge and spray

5. Rinse the Walls

Once you have scrubbed all of the dirt and dust off the walls, rinse them with clean water to remove all of the suds and solution using a damp sponge. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the walls as you rinse them.

6. Dry the Walls

Use a cloth, dry towel, or feather duster to dry the walls. The flat-painted surfaces must be completely dry before painting them. If the walls still have some moisture on them, it might affect your touch-up paint and cause additional problems if left untreated.

7. Begin Painting

If there are areas of original wall paint that have been damaged, use a touch-up coat of paint and a brush to cover those spots before they become more significant problems. Once every section of your wall looks fresh and new, you’re ready to start painting.

8. Take Care of the Newly Painted Walls

Ensure that your extra touch-up paint dries completely before adding a second coat. If you don’t let it dry, you risk damaging the paint underneath the flat finish and ruining all of your hard work. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Your Walls

When it comes to painting your walls, there are a few things you need to take into account. Colors can affect moods and emotions, so choosing the right shade for your home is important. Here are some factors to consider when choosing paint:

  • Room size: Larger rooms can handle bolder or darker colors, while smaller rooms should use lighter shades to avoid making the room feel cramped.
  • Natural light in the room: If there is a lot of natural light, bright colors will reflect that and make the room look larger. If there is not a lot of natural light, dark colors will help to create a cozy atmosphere.
  • Room style: Traditional rooms might look better with warmer colors, while modern rooms could use cooler shades.
  • Furniture color: If you have light-colored furniture, you could use a light or neutral paint color. If you have dark-colored furniture, choose a darker shade.
  • Your personal preference: Ultimately, you should choose a color you like, as you will be living with it for a long time.
Individua painting the wall white with a roller

Is Flat Paint Right for You?

When deciding if flat paint is the right choice for your home or painting project, consider the following:

Surface Type

The surface you are painting will have the greatest impact on the type of paint you choose. Flat paint has a matte finish, so it will be best to go with this option if you prefer a flat surface texture.

On the other hand, semi-gloss provides better shine and durability for surfaces that need luster, like kitchen cabinets or large windows.

Room Type

Flat paint is slightly more forgiving if you make mistakes while painting, but it may not be the best option for rooms with a lot of detail or small details like nooks and door frames. Semi-gloss provides better coverage, particularly in these areas where flat paint might leave uneven spots.


Flat paint is an excellent choice if you are looking for a permanent solution and do not plan on changing your paint color often. It will be difficult to remove once applied, so make sure you are happy with the color before choosing this option.


If you live in an area with high humidity, flat paint may not be the best choice for you. It will retain more moisture and peel in these conditions, while semi-gloss can handle humidity much better.

Choose flat paint if you are looking for a long-lasting solution with minimal upkeep or detailed work required. If your desired surface texture leans toward flat, it is also the right choice for you.

If you are unsure about the surface you will be painting or the level of detail in the room, it is always best to consult with a professional. They can assess your needs and recommend the best paint type for your specific project.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flat Paint Wall Cleaning

Is Flat Paint Washable?

Many homeowners with flat paint walls are afraid to wash flat because they are afraid to ruin the walls. Fortunately, flat paint is washable and using the methods listed above will ensure that you achieve clean walls without destroying any part of them. Flat paint is very moisture-resistant and anti-mildew, allowing you to use water on them to clean safely.

What Is The Best Thing to Wash Walls With?

Since walls can be delicate, it is crucial to be mindful of your products when you clean. You can skip harsh cleaning products with toxins and chemicals while cleaning walls. According to the American Lung Association, many cleaning supplies or household products can irritate the eyes or throat or cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer, due to its harsh ingredients. 

The safest way to wash walls is by using water, a minimal quantity of detergent or liquid soap, and vinegar. You can look for detergent or liquid with fewer chemicals to ensure maximum safety.

Woman with apron posing for camera while holding a cloth and spray wth gloves

Why Do Builders Use Flat Paint?

Many professional builders prefer to use flat paint because it is more accessible to touch-up walls and cover any painting mishaps. It is also a cost-effective alternative as it requires less maintenance and lowers the cost to fix the paint in any error that occurs while painting. Many builders also opt for flat paint as the lack of shine blends better with previous paint.

How Long Does Flat Paint Last on Walls?

There are a variety of finishes available for flat paint walls, such as latex and oil-based paint. The type of paint finish you use on your walls impacts the longevity of your paint job. Latex or Acrylic-Latex paint can last anywhere between 2-10 years, while oil-based paint can last 15 years.

Is Flat Paint Cheaper Than Other Paint Types

One of the benefits of flat paint is that it is cheaper than its alternatives, such as eggshell paint. It is also cheaper compared to other finishes, such as satin paint. Although the cost to use flat or satin paint can vary vastly depending on the brand and where you live, here are the average costs of painting an 8×12-foot bedroom (labor included):

Flat Paint: $250 – $390

Saint Paint: $250 – 470


Cleaning flat paint walls may seem challenging, but it’s a lot simpler when you know the right tips and tricks. It’s important to know whether you have flat paint walls before starting the process of washing them. If they are, make sure you clean away any dust and dirt from the wall surface with a dry rag.

Scrubbing will loosen anything stuck on the wall so you can rinse it off for an extra deep clean. Once the residue on the walls has been scrubbed down, rinse well using a gentle sponge, and let air dry completely before painting again. Taking care of your walls with flat paint will allow you to enjoy a home that looks freshly painted all year round!

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!