Sometimes while I am working, I inevitably end up touching recently painted walls with my hands. Though I try to keep my hands clean, the combination of the dirt and sweat on my hands leaves a very visible brown smudge on the wall.

I do not know what type of paint is used on the walls. The paint has had 24 hours to dry, but it typically has been applied within the past week.

What is the best way to remove the smudge? I would rather not carry around a spray bottle with soap water and clean rags. Would lightly sanding the spot with a very fine grit sandpaper work to remove it?

5 Answers 5


Definitely do not lightly sand. You will screw up the sheen. Use a clean rag with some clear DAWN. Did it just last week and it worked great.

  • This paint is flat, does that make a difference?
    – sam
    Sep 14, 2019 at 21:53
  • 1
    It will if and when any light hits it... I made the mistake when I painted my kitchen...Looked great until the sun came up or the lights were on.
    – JACK
    Sep 14, 2019 at 22:06
  • Got it. I'll try the clear dish soap on monday.
    – sam
    Sep 14, 2019 at 22:10

I have used melamine sponges, better known by their brand name "Magic Eraser." The Wikipedia article mentions that they work for removing grease from painted walls, and Mr. Clean even has a video on using them to remove scuff marks from walls.

Magic Eraser for walls

Just wet the sponge and wipe away the dirt. Then use a damp cloth or paper towel to remove the residue left by the sponge.


I usually just use a wet rag or a wet brush and "scrub"

  • Is doing that ok on paint which may have not yet fully cured?
    – sam
    Sep 14, 2019 at 21:06
  • I have done it several times, just don't scrub too hard and go in a circular motion.
    – SheenaMB
    Sep 14, 2019 at 21:08
  • Thanks for the tip. I will give it a try monday and report back!
    – sam
    Sep 14, 2019 at 21:12
  • 1
    There are those Mr. Clean sponges that remove dirt and scuff marks well. Rather than funking up the wall with dish soap and water, I'd reach for these first! You can buy them at hardware and grocery stores.
    – DAS
    Mar 8, 2021 at 7:47

I clean up walls with windex and a very very damp towel - microfiber preferred. This requires the least amount of water and the least amount of scrubbing.


If the paint has recently been applied, then you still have the paint cans, right? Just cover up the smudges with a small roller and DON'T TOUCH THE WALL.

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