Abstract Malaria prevalence has significantly reduced since 2000, largely due to the scale-up of vector control interventions, mainly indoor residual spraying (IRS) and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs). Given their success, these tools remain the frontline interventions in the fight against malaria. Their effectiveness relies on three key ingredients: the intervention, the mosquito vector and the end-user. Regarding the intervention, factors such as the insecticide active ingredient(s) used and the durability and/or bio-efficacy of the tool over time are critical. For the vectors, these factors include biting and resting behaviours and the susceptibility to insecticides. Finally, the end-users need to accept and properly use the intervention. Whilst human attitude and behaviour towards LLINs are well-documented both during and after distribution, only initial coverage is monitored for IRS and in a few geographic settings the residual efficacy of the used product. Here, the historical evidence on end-users modifying their wall surfaces post-spraying is presented, a behaviour that has the potential to reduce actual IRS coverage, effectiveness and impact, as fewer people are truly protected. Therefore, clear guidelines on how to monitor IRS acceptability and/or coverage, both before, during and after spraying, are urgently needed as part of the Monitoring and Evaluation of malaria programmes.