The Paint Finishes That Are The Easiest To Keep Clean, According To Our Paint Experts

The accidental marker smudge, sauce splatter, or dust that keeps magically appearing on your walls can be harder to remove, depending on your paint finish. Yes, the shiny look of your walls, furniture, and other painted surfaces factor into how easy they are to clean. In an exclusive House Blog interview, we spoke to Julie Fisher and Lisbeth Parada, the product manager and color expert, respectively, at Dutch Boy Paints. They gave us the 411 on the ideal finishes that make it effortless to keep your paint looking bright and fresh. It turns out that when it comes to easy cleaning, satin and semi-gloss are expert-approved.

The paint finish, also known as sheen, refers to how light will reflect off the exterior once the paint dries. Fisher explained, "The different levels of sheen include flat (no gloss), eggshell (low sheen), satin (soft sheen), semi-gloss (moderate gloss), and high gloss (high sheen)." The distinctions aren't just visual; each finish varies in durability and maintenance. These factors are important to consider when picking paints for high-traffic areas or well-used furniture. The right stain can make all the difference in how your home looks and feels.

For easy cleanups go with a satin or semi-gloss finish

If easy cleaning is your priority, you can't go wrong with a satin or semi-gloss finish. You only need a damp cloth and cleaning solution to remove any dust or dirt. Julie Fisher exclusively told House Blog, "Satin finishes have a slight sheen that makes them more durable and easier to wipe down. They're ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms." So skip the shower tile all the way to the ceiling and embrace your favorite paint color instead of a backsplash — just make sure you get the right finish.

Although similar, there are differences between satin and semi-gloss paint. "Semi-gloss finishes have even more sheen and are highly resistant to moisture and stains, which makes them perfect for trim, doors, and cabinets," Fisher said. With a semi-gloss sheen, you won't need to retouch the surface as often to keep the room feeling fresh.

However, some finishes require a little more elbow grease to get spotless. "The hardest paint finish to clean is typically flat or matte," Fisher shared. "These finishes have little to no sheen, which means they tend to hold on to stains and dirt more easily and can be more challenging to wipe clean without damaging the surface." You'll want to avoid these low-to-no sheen paints in playrooms, outdoors, and other busy areas. There are also some finishes that can make a room look more or less clean than it actually is.

Glossy finishes can make a room look cleaner

A paint that makes your room feel clean before you've had a chance to tackle the chore is a win-win. In an exclusive House Blog interview, Julie Fisher and Lisbeth Parada shared, "Glossy finishes can make a space look cleaner because their reflective surfaces bounce light around the room, creating a brighter and more polished look." Semi-gloss might be the ideal finish as it is easy to clean and creates the illusion of tidiness, too. Our experts added, "On the other hand, flat finishes can sometimes make a space look dull and highlight imperfections, which might give the impression of a less clean environment." Dead flat paint has its benefits, but a spotless-looking room is not one of them.

Color also impacts how tidy your space is and appears to be. "The use of light paint colors and/or stark whites, for example Dutch Boy Paints' White 003W, tend to show dirt, stains, and smudges more easily, and may require additional cleaning," Parada shared. A bright shade in a low-sheen finish could be a nightmare to keep pristine.

Medium shades that aren't too dark or light are your best bet. Parada said, "Mid-tone colors, like Dutch Boy Paints Mortar and Pestle 406-3DB, often strike a good balance, as they are less likely to show minor blemishes and can look cleaner without continued maintenance." Opt for medium-tone colors in satin or semi-gloss finishes so your painted surfaces look clean and are easy to keep that way.