How to Get Shiny Wipe Marks Off of Matte Walls

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Matte finishes absorb light and make flaws less noticeable.
Matte finishes absorb light and make flaws less noticeable. (Image: David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Matte paint finishes have no sheen or gloss and dry to a flat, even color. Oils and grease, on rags, sponges or hands leave shiny wipe marks on matte paint finishes. Glossy streaks stand out against a lusterless finish and make the walls look unattractive. Washable matte paints are less challenging to clean than non-washable matte paints. Some matte-finish paints are less durable and scrubbing the surface may remove the paint, making cleaning more difficult.

Things You'll Need

  • Ammonia
  • Liquid dish-washing soap
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Natural sponge
  • Well-worn or white rags
  • Borax
  • White vinegar
  • Melamine foam sponge

Ammonia

Add 1 cup of household ammonia, 1 tsp. liquid dish-washing soap and 1 gallon of water to a bucket. Stir the cleaning ingredients to mix.

Put on rubber gloves and eye protection. Dip a natural sponge or well-worn rag in the cleaning solution and wring out the excess cleaner.

Wipe a hidden area of the wall with the damp rag or sponge to test the paint surface for colorfastness. If the paint color transfers to the rag or sponge, do not wash the walls.

Rub the shiny marks gently with the rag or natural sponge in a circular motion. Wipe the wall with a damp rag to remove ammonia residue. Immediately dry the wall with a clean, well-worn rag.

Borax

Mix 1 cup of borax, 3 tbsp. liquid dish soap and 1 gallon of water in a bucket or plastic container.

Put on rubber gloves. Mix the cleaning ingredients thoroughly. Submerge a well-worn rag or natural sponge in the cleaner. Wring out the excess cleaner.

Rub a hidden area of the wall to test the paint surface to determine if it is washable. If the paint comes off on the sponge or rag, do not use this cleaning method.

Wipe the shiny streaks with the natural sponge or rag, making small circles over the marks. Rub the area lightly with a rag or sponge, dampened with plain water. Dry the wall with a well-worn or white rag.

White Vinegar

Mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1 cup warm water in a bucket.

Dip the edge of a white or well-worn rag into the vinegar and water.

Wipe the shiny marks gently. Paint may come off onto the rag, if the paint is not washable. Continue to rub away shiny marks gently.

Rub the wall lightly with a white or well-worn rag to dry the surface.

Melamine Foam Sponges

Wet a melamine foam sponge with plain water.

Squeeze the sponge until it is barely damp.

Rub the sponge gently over the shiny marks until they disappear. Paint may come off on the sponge if the paint is not washable. Continue to wipe the wall gently to remove shiny marks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use care with dyed rags, as the dye may transfer to the wall during the cleaning process.
  • Avoid scrubbing the wall vigorously, especially if the matte paint is not washable.

References

  • "Heloise from A to Z Updated"; Heloise; 2004
  • "New Fix-It-Yourself Manual: How to Repair, Clean, and Maintain Anything and Everything In and Around Your Home"; Reader's Digest Editors; 1996
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