Is Flat Paint Easy to Clean?

Flat paint is often used in areas where there is minimal traffic like bedrooms and living rooms. Despite this, you may still be wondering, is flat paint easy to clean?

Flat paint is the least durable finish and will not stand up to frequent washing and cleaning. The finish of flat paint is more porous than other finishes, which means it’s less washable and more prone to damage if exposed to moisture or cleaning agents. Semi-gloss and high-gloss have excellent washability.

Flat paint is still a popular choice among homeowners despite not being as washable as glossy finishes. Read on to find out what you need to know about cleaning flat paint. 

3 Reasons Why Flat Paint Is Difficult to Clean

Flat paint is bottom of the list when it comes to the easiest paint finishes to clean. Here is a list of the 3 reasons why.

1. Lack of glossy finish

Flat paint is a type of finish whose main distinction from other types of paint is that it does not have a glossy shine, making it more difficult to clean.

2. Absorbs dirt and grime

Flat paint’s porous surface absorbs dirt, grease, and dust particles more readily than glossy finishes, making them harder to remove. Furthermore, because of its lack of sheen, dust, and grime tend to be more visible on the surface of flat paint when compared with glossier finishes. 

Too delicate

Flat paint is also more delicate than other types of finishes, making it susceptible to wear and tear. Constant cleaning and scrubbing can cause the finish to fade or become scratched. Using abrasive materials when cleaning flat paint can cause it to wear off faster.

3. No moisture-resistance

Flat paint also has no resistance to moisture, so if it comes into contact with water or other liquids, it can easily be damaged. Hence, extra care is needed when cleaning areas with flat paint to prevent damage.

7 Factors That Affect the Ease of Cleaning of Flat Paint

1. Surface preparation

One of the most important things you can do is ensure that the surface you are painting has been adequately prepared for painting. Poorly prepared surfaces may cause your paint to peel or flake off, making it more difficult or impossible to clean effectively. 

2. Paint quality

The type of paint you use will also have an effect on its cleaning properties. Quality paints with more layers will be more durable than cheaper, lower-quality paints, making them easier to clean and maintain over time.

3. Type of stain or dirt

The type of stain or dirt you are trying to clean will also have an effect on how easy it is to clean flat paint. Some stains like grease, oil, or ink will require special cleaning products and methods in order to remove them without damaging the finish of the flat paint.

4. The age of the paint

The age of the paintwork will also play a role in how easy it is to clean. Older paintwork may be more difficult to clean as it has had time to absorb dirt, dust, and other particles, making them harder to remove.

5. Surface texture 

The texture of the surface you are trying to clean will also affect how easy it is to clean. Rougher surfaces may be more difficult to clean as dirt, dust, and other particles can become trapped in the nooks and crannies, making them harder to remove.

6. Type of cleaning product used

The type of cleaning product you use will also affect how easy it is to clean flat paint. Generally, mild detergents and cleaners are recommended for cleaning flat paint as harsher chemicals can cause the finish to fade or become scratched.

7. Amount of time spent cleaning

Finally, the amount of time spent cleaning flat paint will also affect its ease of cleaning. Scrubbing or wiping too vigorously or for too long can cause the paint to wear off, so it is important to take your time and be gentle when cleaning.

How Does Flat Paint’s Cleanability Compare to Other Paint Finishes?


Matte paint has a low sheen, making it ideal for creating a subtle, muted look. However, matte paint is not as easy to clean as glossier finishes, so extra care must be taken when cleaning in order to prevent damage. 


Eggshell paint is considered a low-sheen paint and is slightly glossier than matte paint. Among the paint finishes, it is the most preferred by interior designers for its subtle look, cost-effectiveness, and washability.

Compared to flat paint, eggshell paint is easy to clean as it has a slightly glossy finish, which makes dirt and stains easier to remove. However, it lacks the washability of semi- and high-gloss.


Satin paint has a medium-gloss finish that is both attractive and practical, as it is more reflective than flat paint but not as glossy as other glossier finishes.

Satin paint is more washable than flat paint, as it has a higher sheen and more layers of protection, which make it easier to clean. While it may take some extra effort and time to clean, with the right products and techniques, it can be easily maintained. 


Silk has light-reflecting properties and a smooth finish, making it attractive and eye-catching. It is a great alternative to flat paint for those who want a washable finish.

Unlike flat paint, which can be difficult to clean without leaving marks, silk paint has a low-reflective finish that is easy to clean and maintain over time. 


Semi-gloss has a high level of gloss but less so than high-gloss. The lustrous finish of semi-gloss paint affords it greater protection against dirt and stains, making it more washable than flat finishes. However, its slick surface makes the paint more prone to scratching and scuffing compared to other types.


High-gloss paint is the glossiest finish of all. As it has a higher sheen than flat paint, dirt and grime are easier to clean. However, due to its glossy nature, high-gloss paints require more maintenance than other finishes as they can easily become scratched and marked.

How to Clean and Maintain Flat Paint

Cleaning flat paint: The basics 

Spot clean

For light cleaning, spot cleaning is the best method for flat paint. Start by wiping the surface with a clean cloth and warm soapy water. If necessary, you can use a mild detergent or an all-purpose cleaner to help remove stubborn stains.

Gentle motions

When cleaning flat paint, use gentle motions and avoid harsh scrubbing or abrasive tools. Harsh scrubbing can damage the paint, making it more difficult to clean in the future.

Use a soft cloth

For best results, use a soft cloth when cleaning flat paint. A microfiber or microsuede cloth works great as it won’t scratch the paint.

Test on a hidden spot

Before cleaning a large area of flat paint, it’s important to first test the cleaning method on a hidden spot. This will help ensure that the cleaning products and methods used won’t damage or discolor the paint.

Maintaining flat paint: Regular maintenance tips 

Avoid moisture and high humidity

Make sure you regularly keep the air circulating in your home by using fans or running an air dehumidifier. High humidity can cause the paint to absorb moisture and can make the paint swell and become discolored.

Clean as needed

Make sure to wipe down the walls with a cloth and warm soapy water as needed. This will help prevent dirt and stains from building up on the surface of the paint.

Avoid using abrasive tools

It’s important to avoid using rough materials such as scouring pads or harsh chemicals when cleaning flat paint. This can cause the paint to become damaged and discolored.

Touch up as needed

If you notice any fading or chipping, touch up the area with a matching color of flat paint. Make sure to use light coats when painting to avoid streaks or discoloration.

Use a sealant

If you want to really protect the paint, using a sealant can help. Sealants are usually clear and are applied over the paint, creating an extra layer of protection against dirt and stains.

Do not use wax or silicone-based products

When cleaning flat paint, avoid using wax- or silicone-based products. These types of products can create a slippery film on the walls, making them more difficult to clean and maintain in the future.

Joshua Milton

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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