How to Touch Up Scuffed Walls

Photo of someone in yellow rubber gloves washing a dirty white wall

Nothing can ruin an otherwise perfect paint job like unsightly scuffs. However, before you resort to repainting, you may want to try cleaning or touching up the affected areas. The success of your efforts will depend on any number of factors including the type of paint, quality of application, and the source of the scuff. The experienced professionals at Five Star Painting are pleased to offer the following suggestions for how to touch up a wall with paint or with common materials you may already have in your home.

How to Touch up Scuffed Walls

There are several tried and true methods to restore scuffed up walls to their original condition. General tips for success include:

  • Test out your method of choice in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Be gentle so you don't remove the paint or create a larger problem.
  • Start by trying to remove the scuff using natural materials before resorting to harsh chemicals.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is mildly abrasive and may be all that's needed to remove minor scuffs. Create a solution by dissolving four tablespoons of baking soda into one quart of water. Dampen a soft cloth or sponge with the mixture and rub gently to remove marks. Remove any residual solution with a clean, dry cloth.

Soap and Water

Use a combination of mild dish soap and water, or your favorite all-purpose cleaner and some elbow grease to remove the scuff. Rinse the area using a damp cloth and allow to dry.

Tennis Balls

Tennis, anyone? A clean tennis ball may help to remove scuffs as the outer layer of felt acts like a soft bristled eraser. Gently rub the tennis ball back and forth over the area, applying a bit more force if needed.


White, non-gel toothpaste may be applied to walls that are painted with a satin or glossy finish. Place a small amount on the end of a cotton swab or on a clean toothbrush and gently work back and forth over the mark. Use a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue and allow the area to dry.


An ordinary pencil eraser can be used to remove some marks in the same way that you would erase pencil marks from your paper.

Melamine Foam

Magic erasers or even a damp sponge may be an effective tool for fresh marks. Apply gentle pressure to the wall, focusing your efforts on the scuff itself and avoiding the paint in the surrounding area.

Chemical Application

As a last resort for minor scuffs, you can try using a solvent-based liquid such as nail polish remover. Place a small amount on the end of a cotton swab and dab the mark, working slowly and methodically to avoid damaging the paint.

How to Touch Up a Wall with Paint

If your attempts at removing the scuffs are unsuccessful you may need to touch up the wall with paint to cover them, using these steps:

  1. Lightly sand the area immediately surrounding the scuff mark.
  2. Clean the surface of the wall using a sponge or clean cloth and a mixture of mild soap and water. Dry with a clean towel before proceeding.
  3. Use a spackling compound to fill in any nail holes or minor dents following the directions on the label for use and drying time.
  4. Apply primer to the repaired section of the wall, which will improve adhesion and color matching, and allow to dry.
  5. Paint the area with leftover paint.

Note: If it's noticeable that you've touched up your paint (new color doesn't blend well, touch up has more sheen, etc.), you may consider freshening your paint job altogether.

Need help freshening the paint in your home? The pros at Five Star Painting would be happy to help! Give us a call today.