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How To Clean Scuff Marks from Painted Surfaces

Scuffs can show up on walls from people brushing against them, furniture marks, the aftermath of a furniture move and more. Scuff marks can be comprised of different materials, including tar, dirt rubber, paint transfer and other substances. Trying to remove them with harsh solvents or abrasives isn't necessary, if you try these gentler remedies first. Test all cleaning solutions and application techniques in an inconspicuous  location before using them in a wider area.

There are many similarities between the methods to remove ink and marker, and those to remove scuff marks. One main difference is that scuff marks are more likely to have bulk material. To address the 3-D part of the stain, use a high quality art eraser formulated to remove ink or a kneadable eraser to lightly rub and dislodge scuff material. Brush away and discard the eraser/scuff residue.

Next, use a clean cotton swab or corner of a soft rag to apply rubbing alcohol to the scuff-affected area. Refresh the cotton swab or move to a clean area of the rag as necessary to help avoid spreading the ink/marker over the surface. In a pinch, substitute a clear spirit like vodka that contains ethyl alcohol.

Follow the alcohol application with a light overall cleansing using a specially formulated cleaning solution of mild pH neutral dish soap or shampoo diluted with water. For a quart of lightly sudsy cleaning solution, add 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 TB of borax and 1 TB of glycerin. If there is particular concern regarding dark colored walls, the borax can be omitted. Use a clean sponge to apply the cleaning solution to the areas that were discolored with ink and marker to remove any removing residue. Avoid over wetting, and allow the wall to dry. If a large area was affected, you may wish to use fans to help facilitate drying and prevent lingering moisture that could  encourage mildew growth.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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