It’s inevitable that you’ll have to wipe away stains on the walls in your home from time to time, especially if you’ve got babies that walk on two feet, and ones of the furry kind. Finger smudges, scuffs, splashes, residue from cooking, and other marks will, at some point, adorn your walls. Depending on the type of paint finishes you have, cleaning and scrubbing these surfaces can have a different effect on their appearance. So how do you go about cleaning your walls without ruining their finish?

Flats and Eggshells

A flat paint has a chalky, matte finish, which makes it ideal for concealing surface imperfections when walls are initially painted, since it absorbs light instead of reflecting it. It’s also perfect for ceilings with irregularities, and ones with lap marks. One drawback of flats, however, is that they often blemish after being wiped with force. Eggshell finishes are also not very durable.

So avoid using abrasive chemicals or degreasers on flats and eggshells, and be careful not to scrub too vigorously when washing walls with either finish. Always clean using a sponge, and wring it out nearly completely before wiping your walls.


A satin surface is similar to the look of a pearl. It’s durable and can tolerate light scrubbing, making it ideal for children’s rooms and high-traffic areas like hallways. It’s also great for woodwork.

Semi-Gloss and Glossy

These kinds of finishes are the most durable, so you’ll probably use them often in areas like kitchens and baths, on doors and baseboard trim, and in other high-traffic areas. It’s fine to use a mild degreaser on these surfaces, but be mindful that even though semi-gloss and glossy finishes are hardy they will still scratch. So remember to use a soft sponge when wiping them down.

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