How to Clean Chalk Painted Furniture

There are many benefits to using chalk paint. It is easy to use and often doesn’t need much prep before application. However, as with all paints, there are some downsides to using chalk paint as well. One of the most common complaints is that chalk-painted furniture is difficult to clean.

Cleaning chalk-painted furniture requires a slightly different approach than furniture with other types of paint.

This blog post will teach you how to clean chalk-painted furniture without damaging the paint itself.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Clean dust off chalk-painted furniture with a microfiber cloth. For cleaning off stains, dirt, grease, and grime from chalk-painted furniture, use a washcloth soaked in dish soap and warm water to rub down the surface.

Why chalk paint requires a specific cleaning approach

Chalk paint is different than regular latex and acrylic paints in many ways.

Chalk paint is water-based and often contains calcium carbonate, which gives it a beautiful chalky, soft-matte finish. The chalk paint composition makes it easy to scuff the furniture to create the distressed look that everyone loves.

However, due to the paint’s composition, chalk paint isn’t super durable on its own. With the wrong cleaning approaches, you could potentially rub the chalk paint off your furniture.

Additionally, it’s also important not to damage the top coat as you clean the furniture. Chalk-painted furniture is typically sealed with wax, and it’s important to take the right cleaning approach to avoid damaging the wax finish.

Cleaning chalk-painted furniture

Wiping off the furniture with a microfiber cloth

If your chalk-painted furniture has just a light layer of dust or dirt, it’s best to simply wipe it off with a microfiber cloth (available here on Amazon). Take a clean and dry microfiber cloth and lightly rub the cloth over all the surfaces of the furniture. Avoid rubbing the cloth into the furniture aggressively.

If possible, always resort to using just a clean microfiber cloth rather than a cleaning solution. You are more likely to inadvertently damage the paint by using a cleaning solution. However, there are some instances when a cleaning solution is necessary.

Using a cleaning solution

There are certain cases when a dry, microfiber cloth might not cut it. Consider using a soap and water solution if the furniture has been affected in the following ways:

  • Heavy buildup of grease and grime
  • Oil stains
  • Lipstick and makeup stains
  • Sap, glue or sticker residue
  • Doodles from a marker or pen on the surface

To handle any of these issues, mix warm water and a squirt of dish soap in a small pale. A little bit of dish soap can go a long way.

Soak a washcloth in the solution and rinse it out to get rid of excess liquid. The washcloth should be damp but not dripping. From here, you can wipe down any of the problem areas on the furniture. The dish soap will help to break down oil stains and most other contaminants that you want to get rid of.

When sanding and repainting may be needed 

If the problem areas on the furniture are beyond fixing just with soap and water, you may need to resort to fixing them by sanding and repainting.

Sanding down a surface is a surefire way to remove a tough stain. With enough sanding, you can remove any contaminants no matter how deeply they soaked into your paint. However, you will end up sanding off some paint in the process.

Fortunately, it’s easy to simply repaint the surfaces that have been sanded. Once you have finished sanding, simply wipe off the paint dust, and apply another coat of chalk paint. Once the paint has cured, apply the second coat. Once the second coat has cured, you can rewax the area and the furniture will look as good as new.

Cleaning approaches to avoid

When cleaning chalk-painted furniture, there are a few cleaning approaches to avoid altogether:

  • Using harsh chemicals: To clean furniture without damaging the finish, it’s important to avoid using harsh chemicals. For instance, any household cleaning products that contain ammonia should be off-limits. Eco-friendly dish soap and Simple Green are two great natural cleaning solutions that won’t be as damaging.
  • Using hard bristled brushes: Hard bristled brushes and scrubbers can scrub chalk paint right off your furniture with a bit of pressure. These tools are overly abrasive for chalk paint, and you are much better off using cloth instead.

Even if you take all the right precautions to not damage the chalk-painted surface, you may inadvertently rub off some of the chalk paint anyway. If you are treating grease or grime or a stain that has deeply penetrated the chalk paint, you may end up removing a bit of chalk paint even with mild dish soap and a washcloth. In this case, you may need to simply touch up the surface with more chalk paint. Remember to reapply wax as well.

Lastly, avoid cleaning your chalk-painted furniture if the finishing wax hasn’t had enough time to cure. Curing is the time paint takes to harden. If you try cleaning your chalk-painted furniture before it has completely cured, you are much more likely to accidentally rub off chalk paint in the process.

Finishing wax can take days to weeks to cure depending on the humidity and temperature.

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