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13 Jan 2022

Best washable paint

We tested matt emulsion paint from Dulux, Farrow & Ball, Johnstone and more, to find out which brand of washable paint is the easiest to clean and most durable
Joey Willoughby-Rainsford

Washable paint is certainly useful if any aspiring child artists decide to draw on your walls, but it's not just a good choice for parents and guardians, it's ideal for anyone who wants a more sustainable and longer-lasting finish to their walls. 

It's also a popular choice of paint in kitchens and hallways, where splash stains or scuff marks can be commonplace.

In December 2021, we tested eight different matt emulsion paints from Dulux, Farrow & Ball, Johnstone, Homebase and more, to see which can be washed and cleaned without damage.

The paints all claimed to be washable or easy to clean, and ranged in price from £18 up to £53.

Find out which is impressed in our tests, how to clean your walls without damaging the paint, and what you need to know about different types of paint finishes.

Pricing and availability last checked on 20 December 2021. All listed prices are for 2.5 litres of paint.

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The best washable paint in our test

Only logged-in Which? members can view the full test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see a list of the matt emulsion paints we tested in alphabetical order. 

Join Which? now to get instant access to our test results and recommendations below.

Crown Easyclean, 200 Sail White Matt Paint

Crown Easyclean - 200 Sail White Matt Paint

Cheapest price: £22.26 available from Amazon. Also available from Homebase

Crown claims its Easyclean range of paint is durable, scrub resistant and wipeable. 

We put it to the test to see if this matt paint is really is as stain repellent as the label says.

Log in or join Which? today to check out our full review and see our Best Buy recommendations.

Dulux Easycare Washable & Tough, White Mist Matt

Dulux Easycare Washable & Tough - White Mist Matt

Cheapest price: £22 available from Amazon, B&Q, Wickes. Also available from Wilko, Homebase

The Easycare range is claimed to be 20 times tougher than standard Dulux matt paint and no primer is required. 

Is it really as washable and tough as Dulux says, and how does it compare to the other brands we tested?

To find out, log in to your account now or join Which? today for instant access to all our reviews and Best Buy recommendations.

Farrow & Ball - No.2005 All White Modern Emulsion Paint

Cheapest price: £52 available from Farrow & Ball. Also available from B&Q, Homebase

Farrow & Ball says its Modern Emulsion paint has a tough finish that's washable and scuff-proof, as well as protects against mould. 

It's one of the most expensive paints in our selection, but if it's the most durable it could be worth the extra cost.

Log in to your account or join Which? today to gain instant access to our full review and all of our Best Buy recommendations.

Fired Earth - Neve Matt Emulsion

Cheapest price: £48 available from Fired Earth

This pricey white paint from Fired Earth is claimed to be environmentally friendly.

According to the brand, it requires fewer coats than ordinary paint, it's practically odour-free during application and it contains minimal VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Find out whether we'd recommend it - read our full review by logging in to your account or joining Which? today. 

Homebase Tough & Durable Matt Paint - Coconut Milk

Cheapest price: £18 available from Homebase

This paint from Homebase's Tough & Durable range is the cheapest in our selection. 

Is it a bargain or do you need to pay more to get durable washable paint?

Check out our full review by logging in to your account or joining Which? today to get instant access to our Best Buy recommendations.

Johnstone's Washable Paint, White Lace

Johnstone's Washable Paint - White Lace

Cheapest price: £19 available from Argos

Johnstone's claims its washable matt emulsion is stain and moisture resistant, low odour and highly durable.

Find out if we found it easy to remove marks and stains.

Read our full review by logging in to your account or by joining Which? today to find out. 

Lick, White 01

Lick - White 01

Cheapest price: £38 available from Lick

According to the Lick website, its water-based matt paint is durable, washable and wipeable, as well as low VOC. 

How did this paint fare in our tough durability tests?

Log into your account or join Which? today to get instant access to this review and all of our Best Buy recommendations.

Mylands Charterhouse, No.4

Mylands Charterhouse - No.4

Cheapest price: £53 available from Mylands

Mylands is Britain's oldest family-owned paint company and it holds the royal warrant.

The Charterhouse No.4 paint is the most expensive in our tests, but if it lasts the longest it could be worth it.

Read our full review to see what we thought, by logging into your account or joining Which? today.

What's the safest way to clean a painted wall?

For these tests we washed our plasterboard walls with hot water, washing up liquid and a non-scratch sponge (see how we tested below). 

To clean your wall without damaging the paint, we'd recommend:

  • First dust the wall to remove grime, dust and loose dirt. 
  • Use a soft sponge or cloth and warm soapy water to gently clean the wall.
  • Do not oversoak your sponge. 
  • For stubborn marks, leave the soapy solution for five to 10 minutes before rinsing off with clean water.

Different types of paint finishes compared

Many brands have their own versions and names for their paint finishes, but for the most part the different types are widely-known as matt, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss. 

Below you can compare the different paint finishes and what makes each unique. 

Paint finish
About the finish
Good for
Matt (also known as Matte or Flat)
- Has a non-reflective appearance
- Can hide slight imperfections
Low-traffic areas such as:
- formal living rooms
- dining rooms
- ceilings
- offices
- Has low lustre
- Has a velvety appearance
Moderate-traffic areas such as:
- family rooms
- bedrooms
- dining rooms
- hallways
- entryways
- Has a pearl-like appearance
- Is slightly reflective
Moderate to high-traffic areas such as:
- family rooms
- kitchens
- bathrooms
- mouldings
- interior doors
Semi-Gloss and High-Gloss- Is resistant to dirt, stains and mildew
- Can highlight any imperfections
High-traffic areas such as:
- kitchens
- bathrooms
- doors
- mouldings

How we tested washable paint

We put our eight selected emulsion paints through the following test to discover how washable they were.

Preparing the test

First, we painted sheets of plasterboard with two coats of yellow matt emulsion paint. This yellow paint served as the undercoat. 

Once this had thoroughly dried, we painted labelled squares with the various white paints. We painted two coats of each white emulsion paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

The test

For the test, we dirtied and then cleaned each paint square with warm soapy water and a non-scratch sponge. 

Each paint square was washed five times. The first time was with nothing on it. The second was with a smiley face drawn with red crayon, then a smiley face sketched with red pencil for the third. 

We used a different section of the paint squares for the fourth and fifth stains; a fingerprint of melted chocolate and a question mark drawn with a permanent marker pen.

After each clean, we examined the square to see if there was any colour fading, flaking, breakages or peeling.

The best paint never lost its colour, flaked or peeled. However, the worst paints peeled away from the wall like clingfilm or faded so much we could see the yellow beneath.

How we chose the paint we test

To be included in our selection, the paint needed to be a white matt emulsion, available in a 2.5-litre size and sold in the UK. 

If a brand offered a durable and washable version of the paint, we picked that option.

We purchased all the paint we tested, to bring you unbiased recommendations.

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