How to Clean Your Wallpaper
You’ve got the ideal wallpaper, everything matches and the house is looking like a show home. But sooner or later, those walls are going to show signs of dust, grime and — heaven forbid — staining.
If you’re wondering how to clean your wallpaper quickly, easily and without damaging it, we’ve got the guide for you.
After researching the best methods and techniques, we’ve come up with a step-by-step guide to keeping your wallpaper clean and protected. Taking into account all kinds of stains and plenty of tips; read our How to Clean Your Wallpaper guide for a quick-fix to just-like-new walls.
Before you do anything, you absolutely must check the wallpaper instructions that came with your wallpaper, or our product summary tabs online. What you’re looking for is to find out how washable and scrubbable your wallpaper is.
Basically, ‘washability’ and ‘scrubbability’ ratings go from ‘spongeable’ (you can dab fresh paste off when the paper is still wet, but that’s usually about it), to ‘highly scrubbable’ (you can scrub your wall using mild detergents to remove oils and other tough stains).
Remember; this rating only takes into account the cleaning agents you can use and how often you should clean your wallpaper. Be careful never to wash your wallpaper with anything more abrasive than a plain sponge and diluted detergent! For more details about ‘washability’ and ‘scrubbability’; head to our Wallpaper Symbols Guide.
As soon as you know whether you have plain-paper wallpaper that easily absorbs moisture and can’t get wet, or vinyl/acrylic covered wallpaper that you can scrub with mild detergents; you can start going through our how to clean wallpaper tips.
What you need for speedy wallpaper cleaning
- Plastic/cloth sheet
- Soft brush
- Bucket of clean water
- Bucket of water with mild detergent
- Plain, clean sponge
- Clean cloth
- Small towel
Cleaning wallpaper set-up and run-down
- Line the floor and nearby furniture with a large sheet (preferably plastic), just in case of dirt, dust or spillages.
- Fill one bucket with warm water and add a small amount (about two tablespoons) of clear, mild detergent. Remember to use only water, if your wallpaper instructions advise.
- Then, fill your second bucket with clean water only.
- Before you begin, we suggest that you clean from the top of the wall and move downwards, going from side to side.
- Starting in the top corner, use your soft brush to gently sweep away any cobwebs or loose dirt that you can see.
- Once you’ve swept the full wall, dip your sponge in the soapy water and wring out the excess as much as you can until the sponge is just slightly damp.
- Test the sponge on an unnoticeable part of your paper to make sure it won’t damage.
- If everything looks fine, begin wiping the wall using circular motions from side to side and moving downwards.
- Rinse your sponge regularly, so that you’re not just moving dirt around.
- After each section you clean with detergent, use the bucket filled with clean water (and the fresh cloth) to gently rinse off any excess soap that you might not be able to see.
- Using the towel, gently absorb any leftover moisture as you go. Don’t leave your wallpaper to air-dry — it might soak up extra moisture.
- Repeat until every inch of the wall is clean and dry!
Vacuuming and dusting your wallpaper
If you want clean wallpaper, but don’t think it needs a bucket and sponge; why not simply give it a vacuum or dust?
This is a very effective and quick way to get rid of loose dirt and thoroughly clean wallpaper. Attach your brush extension to your vacuum cleaner and gently clean from the top of the wall, moving straight down in vertical sections. Try not to press on the wall with your vacuum extension; this could leave a mark or transfer dirt that wasn’t there to start with!
You can use the classic hand-and-duster method to clean wallpaper, but this is much more time-consuming than using a broom with a microfibre cloth over the top. Once your cloth is attached, simply sweep the wall from side to side. Just make sure to put a sheet over your floor or furniture to protect them from falling dust and dirt.
Removing (almost) any stain
If you’re not after all-over cleaning and dusting, but have a tough stain you need to get rid of, we’ve covered this too. Again, just check how much detergent, moisture and scrubbing your wallpaper is designed to handle, first.
Wine and coffee stains
- Dampen a cloth with a mixture of soap and peroxide.
- Apply the soap and peroxide compound to the stained wall and leave it there for a few minutes (it should be thick enough to stick to the wall itself).
- When it’s time, rinse the mixture from the wall with a damp cloth, and then dab away any excess moisture with a dry towel.
- Put paper towels over the stain.
- Turn your iron on and heat it to its lowest level.
- Run your iron over the paper towels; the paper towels should absorb the grease and you can simply remove them from the wall!
- Using a small putty knife, gently scrape off all the extra crayon you can.
- Then, put paper towels over the stain and run a low-heat iron over them.
- Like the grease spot removal step-by-step above, the crayon stain should seep into the paper towel. So, you can just remove the towels once you’ve used the iron, and the stains should be gone from the wall.
Ink and felt-tip stains
- Many kids’ felt-tips and markers are washable. If you’ve checked and they are, just get a baby wipe to remove it.
- For ink and non-washable marks, make a mixture of baking soda and water.
- Once it has a paste consistency, apply it to the stain with a cloth.
- Simply rub the stain gently and it should come off.
- You can use rubbing alcohol, but only on very durable and strong wallpaper varieties.
- Find a clean, unused eraser.
- Apply minimal pressure and gently rub at the stain on the wall. This should extract any oil and dirt left behind by hands.
Weird wallpaper fact: Did you know, you can even use a slice of bread to remove fingerprints for clean wallpaper?! We’ve never tried it yet, but all you do is place a slice of bread to the affected wall and leave it for a few minutes. The gluten in the bread actually helps to remove this type of stain. Obviously, it won’t stick there alone, so you might have to stand holding bread against a wall for a bit, but still — it should work.
When carrying out these step-by-step guides to remove your stain, remember to spot-check first. This could save you ruining a large patch of your wallpaper for a small stain.
Dos and don’ts of wallpaper cleaning
Here are a few things you should remember, if you want to make sure you get clean wallpaper that stays intact and protected while you wash.
- Find out exactly what cleaning agents you can use and how much pressure you should apply when cleaning your wallpaper by referring to our product information tabs online, or your provided wallpaper details on delivery.
- Clean from side to side, moving from the top of the wall to the bottom.
- Use a free-standing stepladder (don’t lean it against your wallpaper).
- Spot-check any cleaning solutions and detergents you use on a hidden part of your wallpaper first.
- Remove dirt and dust prior to applying any water or detergent.
- Dry each section of wallpaper thoroughly before moving on to the next.
- Avoid using bleach to clean wallpaper.
- Forget to put down dust sheets or plastic covers on your furniture and flooring before you start cleaning your wallpaper.
- Use abrasive cleaning solutions or products (like hard-bristle brushes).
We hope this has given you a few pointers about how to clean your wallpaper and keep it looking pristine. Why not have a quick look through our latest wallpaper designs before you go?