Asked on Nov 28, 2018

How to remove magic sponge marks on flat paint walls?

by Tonya

I recently moved into a rental, and there were some marks/dirt on this particular wall. Just by habit, I wiped the spots lately with a magic sponge, as I’ve always had luck with on painted surfaces. However, this while is painted with perhaps the most flat paint I have ever encountered. It’s almost chalky.

As I hope you can see in the photo, I have tried to fix it using the simplest method is in order not to create more damage. What I have tried so far is just using a damp cloth to wipe. And then a dry lintless cloth to lightly buff. I attempted to feather out the areas, and now I have an even bigger eyesore. Any ideas out there on how to clean walls with flat paint would be greatly appreciated!

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  25 answers
  • Tonya Tonya on Nov 28, 2018

    Sorry for the typos, I was using talk to text on my phone and Siri misinterpreted my words. I don’t see a place where I can edit. If anybody can tell me how to do that after I have posted a question I would also appreciate the help.

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Nov 28, 2018

    Tonya...Is the wall rough like maybe wallpaper prior and glue not removed? Kinda hard to see...I ask this because same thing happened to a friend and that was her problem.

    • Tonya Tonya on Nov 28, 2018

      Geez, I don’t think so because it is not rough or uneven… Rather, it is very smooth but just chalky.

  • Colleen Colleen on Nov 28, 2018

    Looks like you removed some paint, get permission to repaint. Landlord might have some leftover paint and supplies.

  • Before resorting to painting, (exactly why I don't like flat finish paint), try washing the entire wall with a vinegar / water solution, rinse and let dry. Blot, do not scrub, use a fluffy car wash type sponge. Then decide what to do next.

  • Gk Gk on Nov 28, 2018

    I like the idea of asking the landlord if you can repaint it. You weren't trying to cause any damage--you were just trying to clean. Better to deal with it now rather than if and when you move out--you could be charged a damage deposit for some pretty innocent cleaning behavior!

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Nov 28, 2018

    Flat paint sucks worst thing the landlord could have used!He probably just bought lowest cost he could get. anyway Do as Naomi suggests before painting it'll be cheaper, then talk to landlord if you need to paint, & if you need to buy paint redo with semi gloss so it can be washed.

  • Tonya Tonya on Nov 29, 2018

    Thank you so much for all of your replies. Looks like I really have my job cut out for me because I can’t even reach the entire wall… 20 foot vaulted and back into a loft area.

  • Tonya Tonya on Nov 29, 2018

    I really could use a solution that doesn’t involve the entire wall where I could just touch up the areas themselves. It’s actually impossible for me to reach the entire wall whether it’s cleaning or painting. It would involve repainting an entire room because of the way of the layout.

  • Dee Dee on Nov 29, 2018

    Magic eraser is a high grit sandpaper, those marks cannot be removed. You will have to repaint the wall to make it even. When painting make sure you use a good primer, or it will still look blotchy.

  • Jessie Jessie on Nov 29, 2018

    Ask your landlord for a small amount of the paint he uses... its the only way to paint just that area and still get a uniform look. It still won't be washable, but you're likely cleaner than the previous tenant anyway !

  • Jana Gingerich Jana Gingerich on Nov 29, 2018

    TELL THE LANDLORD!!! If the same paint is used throughout your home, you will never be able to clean without it happening again. You really want to fight that through the entirety of your lease?

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Nov 30, 2018

    Even on satin finish paint, I have found that the magic erasers leave a distressed area. I no longer use them on painted surfaces.I also agree with talking to your landlord to either get some more paint or at least make him aware of your situation.

  • Tonya Tonya on Nov 30, 2018

    Thank you all again!

  • D D on Dec 01, 2018

    We had a similar issue, contacted a friend of ours, who's a contractor, and built his entire house, tray ceilings, walls, you name it, who told us that attempts to "spot correct" our accidental texture removal, would likely show, we wouldn't be happy with it, so we should repaint the entire wall (Thankfully it was a bathroom wall).

    First we washed it down with a clean kitchen sponge and mild soap & water, and then went over it with plain water, to remove any soap residue, and let it dry completely.

    (The suggestions he gave us for disguising the uneven texture, like applying a fine knockdown, or spray on orange peel texture, before painting, may not be permitted, since you're in a rental). We also had 2 young boys and pets, so didn't want a texture that might collect MORE dirt, so asked for the simplest solution.

    We pointed out the mild "dimply" texture, that already existed on the walls, and told him we'd like to match THAT.

    He said what we were pointing out was produced by either having the initial coats sprayed on (which is commonly done to new home builds), OR the result of multiple, previous coats of paint being applied with a roller. So we cheated.

    Since that dimpled texture is produced by the slight pulling action of the roller, as it goes over the applied paint, we purchased a thicker nap roller, which laid a thicker coat on the wall, and then went over it, with a barely damp/nearly dry roller, to help pucker up that dimpled texture. We used an eggshell finish, and it turned out fine, without us having to apply 5-7 coats of paint, to the entire wall.

    I wonder if we could have gotten away with simply applying the existing paint color with a sea sponge or something that had a bit of texture, to it?

    Get a scrap piece of drywall and practice. Best of luck.

  • Rosy Rosy on Dec 01, 2018

    Magic erasers are like a sandpaper. They literally take off a fine layer of paint. I used one on my kitchen wall painted with a semi gloss premium Sherwin Williams paint, had to repaint the wall. Have never used one on a surface since without testing in a hidden spot.

  • You might try washing the area with soap and water, sometimes it eliminates the streaks. If not, you will probably have to paint in order to rectify the issue.

  • Annie Annie on Jun 16, 2021

    Our living room was painted with flat paint by previous owners, so we are in same boat as you. Good thing is you can repaint using a different kind of paint, like a latex. That is what we are going to have to do, we just keep putting it off.

    Talk to your landlord and see if you can repaint

  • I'm sorry, but you're going to have to repaint.

  • Pat Pat on Jun 16, 2021

    I have used Magic Eraser on my flat painted kitchen walls and it left a dull finish. Then I took some soap and water (Dawn dish soap is what I used) and then cleaned it lightly and then dried it with a towel. Helped a lot. I am agreeing with what Kim said about using soap and water.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Jun 16, 2021

    You will have to repaint the wall.

  • Maura White Maura White on Jun 17, 2021

    I've had a similar effect on my walls. The magic erasers are actually removing paint. At this point, I'd ask the landlord if he has paint you can use to paint over it. If you don't want your landlord to know anything, if you can get a chip of the paint color, you can take it to a paint store where they can match the color for you.

  • Magic Erasers, while magic in some places, aren't always magic in others. I use flat paint everywhere as I like the finish better so I feel this pain after attempting to clean some dog goo. Really the only solution I've found is to repaint. If the walls are too high, get or borrow an extending paint pole. Your landlord will appreciate you being proactive and honest.

  • Kellie Kellie on Aug 16, 2023

    I’m way late to answer this, but maybe I can help someone. I did this as well, magic eraser to a 20 foot vaulted wall. What worked for me was Zep foaming wall cleaner from Lowe’s or Home Depot. I don’t know what mechanism it uses to clean the way it does, but it rehydrated my paint, and it’s the only thing I used to clean my walls anymore. There’s nothing it won’t take off and I have eggshell paint.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 07, 2023

    I think the wall must be washed as a whole, by using magic sponge over the entire area. Then re-paint.

  • Mogie Mogie on Dec 09, 2023

    Get your landlord's permission and repaint the wall. But first get their permission.