How to Clean Wallpaper - ServiceMaster Advanced - Gulf Coastal Alabama & Mississippi (251) 653-9333

How to Clean Wallpaper - ServiceMaster Advanced - Gulf Coastal Alabama & Mississippi (251) 653-9333

wikiHow to Clean Wallpaper

Three Parts:Cleaning Your WallpaperDusting Your WallpaperRemoving StainsCommunity Q&A

Even the most punctilious cleaner can end up ignoring wallpaper. It’s easy to forget. We don’t usually think about it until that spring clean, or when we realize that an artistic child has found their first canvas. Wallpaper attracts dirt and dust. Therefore, most wallpaper benefits from an occasional cleaning. Depending on the state of your wallpaper, clearing it up might require dusting and stain removal. Fortunately, this is not impossible to do. With the right materials, some tenacity, and a bit of elbow grease you can take your walls back to their original state.


Part 1
Cleaning Your Wallpaper
  1. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 1
    Determine your wallpaper type. Figure out what kind of wallpaper you have on your walls. Vinyl wallpaper is not difficult to clean. Coated fabric wallpaper is sometimes covered with an acrylic or vinyl covering that is easily washable. Plain paper wallpaper should not get wet. If possible, you should spot-clean it.[1]
    • You can scrub vinyl wallpaper, but you need to make sure that you don’t clean with anything abrasive. You wouldn’t want to use a rough sponge, for example.
    • Clean walls that don’t have protective coating with a dry sponge. A dry sponge, which contains no moisture, gently gets rid of the dirt on your wallpaper. [2]
  2. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 2
    Clean the wallpaper. Mix a small amount of dish soap, about two table spoons worth, with warm water in a bucket. Use clear soap to avoid staining the wallpaper with colored detergent. Dip a soft cloth or sponge in the cleaning solution. Wring out the excess cleaner into the bucket. Test the cleaning solution by dabbing a bit of it on an inconspicuous area. If it doesn’t damage the wallpaper, start the cleaning process. Wipe the surface from the top to the bottom. Clean in the direction of the vertical seams. Clean one section at a time in a circular motion.
    • Don’t overuse soap. Using a large amount of soap will make dirt stick to walls.
    • You may not want to use scrubbing pads because they are usually too harsh for wallpaper
    • Testing the cleaning solution in a small, hidden area prevents you from damaging the entire wall in case the cleaner turns out to be destructive. The surface near the baseboards is rarely noticeable to others, and is a good spot to test.
  3. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 3
    Rinse and dry the wallpaper. This is where the second bucket comes in. Using the water from that bucket and a new cloth, rinse each section with clean water. Don’t use too much water; you don’t want to end up with damp walls. With a terry-cloth towel, dry the surface immediately after to prevent the wallpaper from soaking up too much moisture and tearing.


Part 2
Dusting Your Wallpaper
  1. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 4
    Use a vacuum cleaner. The most efficient method for removing dust from your walls is vacuuming.[3] Attach a wall brush extension to your vacuum before you start. Depending on the length of your extension, you may want to use a ladder to reach the higher spots of your wall. This extension will keep you from scratching your walls. Begin at the top of the wall and do a few sections at a time. Gently brush until you have completed the entire wall.
    • As long as you don’t rub your vacuum on the wallpaper, you can generally use the vacuum on fabric wallpaper.
  2. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 5
    Dust with a broom. Find a cloth, preferably a micro fiber dusting cloth, and put it over a broom. Swipe the broom over the wall from left to right. This method will help you reach the dusty corners of your walls. Move the broom, clearing dust as you go, from the top of the wall to the bottom. You want to make sure that you leave no surface untouched.
    • If dust builds up on the floor, sweep it up.
  3. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 6
    Dust with a cloth. Wipe the walls directly with it. If your walls are high, you may want to get a step ladder in order to reach the corners. Start at the top and clear off the dust that you see. As you move down, make sure that your cloth has not become too dirty. A dirty cloth will smudge your walls.


Part 3
Removing Stains
  1. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 7
    Remove crayon marks. Use a putty knife and scrape away the excess crayon. Any loose bits that stick out should be ripped away. Once the surface is cleared, place paper towels over the stain. Now, press an iron set to its lowest heat on top of the stain. Wait for a minute, until the residual crayon seeps into the towels. Remove the towels and the stain should come off.
    • If you have washable wallpaper, then you should spray a washcloth with the solution you used to clean the walls. Then, gently wipe the stains until they disappear.
  2. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 8
    Remove finger prints. Find an art gum eraser. With this eraser, gently rub at the wall. The eraser should absorb the oil and dirt left by fingerprints.[4] If you have vinyl wallpaper, you can use soap and water to wash these prints away. Create a dish soap and water solution in a bowl. Put a cloth into the bowl to wet it. Then, use the cloth to wash the prints off the wall.
    • You can use a piece of bread to clear the wall.[5] Take a piece of bread and leave it on the prints for a minute. Then, remove the bread from the wall. The gluten in the bread should remove the stains from the wallpaper.
  3. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 9
    Remove grease spots. First, place paper towels over stains. Run a iron on a low heat setting over the paper towels.[6] The grease should seep into the paper towels. Remove the towels to dislodge the stains.
    • Talcum powder can also work. Pour talcum powder on a washcloth. Apply talcum powder onto the wall with the cloth. Let the powder sit for 10 minutes. Remove the powder from the wall with a dry sponge or brush.
  4. Image titled Clean Wallpaper Step 10
    Remove red wine stains. Wet a rag with dish soap and peroxide. Using the rag, apply this combination to the wall. The combination should stick to stain. Leave it there for five minutes. Use a damp towel to wipe off the stain, then dry the area with a paper towel.
    • If this does not work, then you can attempt to get rid of the stain with sodium percarbonate cleaner that will whiten the spot.[7] Dip a rag into this cleaner and then put it on the stain for four to six minutes. Then remove the rag, the stain should be gone. With a wet clean cloth or towel, clear the spot. Dry the spot afterwards by patting at it with a dry cloth.[8]


Community Q&A
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  • Vacuum or dust wallpaper regularly to keep dirt from building up over time.
  • Use rubber gloves so you do not get the cleaning solution on your hands.
  • If the wallpaper you have can be scrubbed, then you should try to scrub the wallpaper with a sponge. The scrubbing motion will dislodge excess dirt.
  • You can also buy wallpaper peel-away putty from a home improvement store. You can apply this putty to your wallpaper in order to get rid of stains.


  • Do not try to clean mildew out of wallpaper. Mildew usually penetrates to the wall. Remove the wallpaper so you can get rid of the mildew on the underlying wall.
  • Do not add too much soap to your cleaning solution. Excess soap will make the walls sticky. Pour in just enough soap to create some bubbles.
  • Avoid using chlorine bleach or solvents to clean wallpaper. These products are too harsh, and may scratch or tear the wallpaper.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 buckets of warm water
  • Dish soap or wallpaper cleaning solution
  • Sponge or soft cloth
  • Paper towel
  • Terry-cloth towel
  • Vacuum
  • Talcum powder
  • Slice of bread
  • WD-40
  • Putty knife
  • Art gum
  • Peroxide

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Article Info

Categories: Wall and Ceiling Cleaning | Wallpaper

In other languages:

Español: limpiar papel tapiz, Русский: почистить обои, Italiano: Pulire la Carta da Parati, Português: Limpar um Papel de Parede, Deutsch: Tapete saubermachen


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