Scuff marks from shoes on the floor, and abrasion marks from colliding objects and furniture on walls and doors, are best cleaned gently. Many people attempt to abrade marks off surfaces, only to end up with results that look worse than the scuff they’re trying to eliminate.
Walls and Doors
Try to avoid the temptation to paint over the spot unless you’re prepared to paint the entire wall. While painting over the scuff can be successful if the surrounding coat of paint is fairly fresh, spot painting is likely to look splotchy on an older paint surface.
A pencil or art eraser will sometimes do the trick on walls and doors as long as excessive pressure is avoided. Then try dabbing marks gently using a light or white cloth moistened with an all-purpose household cleaner.
If you’ve still got a mark, stronger measures may be needed, but be cautious — apply too much pressure or cleaner, and you’ll end up removing paint or sealers. Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol or paint thinner on a white cloth and dab at the scuff. Continue doing so gently if the spot begins to darken the moist area of the cloth. Stop immediately if the color on the cloth matches that on the wall.
“Whatever you do, don’t grind away at it with dry cleansers or dry anything,” advises Don Aslett, author of The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to Cleaning Like the Pros. "Lots of black marks are actual surface damage that can’t be removed by mere cleaning.”
If the mark is still there, you’ll have to apply these chemicals using a gentle abrasive, such as a sponge with a white nylon scrub pad, but pay careful attention to make sure paint isn’t coming off the wall, too. Rinse and buff dry when done.
If you’ve been seeing an increasing number of scuff marks on the floor and no one’s been dragging feet or furniture across it, that’s a sure sign the protective wax or polish is wearing out. Once this happens, it’s time to strip the old finish, wipe up residue completely and re-wax or polish the floor.
Scuffs on well-waxed floors are easily removed, because the wax or floor finish forms a barrier between the abuse and the actual flooring surface. All-purpose cleaner applied gently with a sponge or white nylon scrub pad should make them go away.
If you apply too much pressure or use harsher abrasive pads, such as green nylon, steel wool or sandpaper, you’ll definitely remove floor polish from the spot and may permanently scratch the floor's surface. Avoid using strong cleaners or solvents. Ammonia, alcohol or acetone will strip away the protective floor finish.