I have a wall that's painted a matte black color in multiple coats of high quality paint. It's a scuff magnet, and picks up dirt when people touch it.

On lighter colored walls I use soft clean microfiber, or magic erasers or similar. In my black wall, the soft cloth left significant wipe marks.

How should I clean marks on black walls?

  • Other than re-painting I don't think you can clean these marks off. In all likelihood those marks have changed the surface texture of that matte paint when they occurred - extra 'cleaning' will probably only make it worse by spreading it out more...
    – brhans
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 17:42
  • Well... I can readily clean my lighter colored walls using clean soft cloths or magic erasers. A clean soft cloth left a "wipe mark" on the dark wall.
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 17:50
  • You might also try what I called a "pounce" bag, i.e., bag filled with rubber eraser particles, e.g. amazon.com/Alvin-1248-Professional-Drafting-Cleaning/dp/… or dickblick.com/items/dry-cleaning-pad . They are gentle and only gradually remove surface material. No guarantees if this will help... please let me know if it works for you. Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 22:53
  • The watermark is reflective of the dust (a mixture of gray-white particles) that remains on the wall. You can continuing the cleaning until it is gone, however, when you clean the boundary it inevitably affecting a wider area. I will recoat/paint the wall, and only dusting off while cleaning.
    – r13
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 0:21
  • 1
    I'm finding this more and more as folks specify matte finishes. The simple truth is that they are not very easily wiped down due to the type of finish. We've had some success by wrapping a longer cloth onto a longer blade or even a piece of lath and wiping a wide section, top to bottom etc. Problem is matt is just a blooming dust magnet too, so you almost have to wipe the whole wall!
    – handyman
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 20:54

1 Answer 1


I have some matte black doors and walls and from day one, finger prints and cleaning were a problem. Any type of wiping, even with a wet black cloth, will show streaks. Other finishes (from low sheen to high sheen) like eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss, have too much sheen and show every imperfection, even brush strokes, plus you lose that depth that only a matte finish can provide.

When attempting to clean a matte finish, you are actually rubbing the color and texture of the paint. Any other type of finish has a binder which self-levels on the surface, offering a protective layer on top of the color, similar to a sealer.

The best solution is to repaint the wall and then put a clear matte finish over it. Problem solved with low maintenance.

Unless a shiny finish is requested, we do not adhere to the rule of using satin or gloss paint on walls and trim in high traffic areas like the kitchen or bathroom. We use flat matte paint with a flat matte clear in these areas. Flat paint adds warmth and depth to a room. Any other finish doesn't allow the eyes to see the true color due to the glare and reflective properties.

  • Please do not write a whole new answer just to add one paragraph. Instead, register your account and edit your existing answer. If you'll take the tour, you'll get a better idea of how this site works, and you could also take a look at how to write a good answer.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 20 at 18:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.