10 tips for cleaning your wallpaper

10 tips for cleaning your wallpaper

Posted 26th Feb 2018

There's no two ways about it - wallpaper, frankly, becomes dirty

However, there's some good news! Most wallpaper will actually be easy to clean without damaging them, while for heavy use areas that are prone to dirt, there are scrubbable and even extra washable options on the market.

To give you a helping hand, Alex Whitecroft of I Want Wallpaper offers her ten top tips to ensure you can keep yours spick and span.

1 Pick washable wallpaper

Most wallpaper websites will offer information on how washable the wallpaper is in the 'product summary' section of their website. Keep your eyes peeled for vinyl / acrylic covered wallpaper, as these can only be scrubbed with mild detergents. If you think you need a paper that can be washed, avoid plain paper - this will not be as hard-wearing.

2 Look for labels

Before going at the walls with a scrubbing brush, check the wallpaper's instructions. Brands should provide information on how to clean them, the cleaning agents to use and even the pressure to apply.

Bosco Gold Wallpaper

For instance, I Want Wallpaper include products that vary from 'spongeable' (only dab fresh paste off when hanging the paper when it's still wet), to 'highly scrubbable' (scrub with mild detergents to remove oils and other tough stains).

3 Dust or vacuum the walls

A simple way to keep your walls looking fresh and to limit the build-up of cobwebs and 'dust bunnies' (fluffy clumps of dust particles) will be a weekly dust over of the walls. Use a feather duster with a long handle or, alternatively, vacuum the cleaner attachment for those harder to reach areas. Avoid pressing the wall with the vacuum extension so you don’t leave a mark or transfer the dirt. Always vacuum or dust the walls before washing them too.

4 Get everything you need before you start

Before starting, make sure you have the following items:

- A ladder (free standing is best, so you avoid damaging wallpaper when leaning it against the wall)
- Hoover / duster
- Plastic / cloth sheet (Line the floor and nearby furniture with a large sheet (ideally this will be plastic), in case of drips, dust or spillages)
- Soft brush
- Bucket of clean water
- Bucket of water with mild detergent
- Plain, clean sponge
- Clean cloth
- Small towel

5 Do a patch test

This one's simple - find a discreet spot and test any cleaning solution first – this will avoid costly damage. 

6 Be sparing

Did you know using too much detergent can attract dirt and leave stains? Similarly, too much water can prove damaging, leaving water marks. To get around this, dip the sponge in the soapy water and wring out excess moisture until the sponge is only slightly damp.

7 Be methodical

Start at the top left corner and wipe the wall with soapy water using gentle downward motions - make sure you're careful to avoid loosening or ripping conjoining edges. After cleaning a strip, use a bucket filled with clean water and a fresh cloth to remove any excess soap. Clean from the bottom (to avoid drips) and work across the wall from left to right. Be sure to rinse the sponge and change the water regularly so you don't just move the dirt around.

Muriva Brick Wallpaper

8 Towel dry

Dry each section with a towel as you go. Using a towel will mean you can gently absorb any leftover moisture, limiting the risk of water marks.

9 Be gentle

Even scrubbable paper will require a soft touch - it is paper after all. Avoid using bleach or harsh cleaning solutions and be aware that abrasive products like hard-bristle brushes could be too coarse for the job. Gentle downward motions are effective enough to remove most of the dirt and stains.

10 For harder to shift stains...

If you have tough stains, try these wallpaper hacks (but make sure you remember to spot-check first)

- Scuffs

There are a number of methods to get rid of scuff marks, with an eraser being one of the most effective. Baking soda / water can be used but could be slightly abrasive so always test it first.

- Grease

Talcum powder can absorb grease stains on non-vinyl wallpaper (just apply and leave it on for five minutes before brushing it away).

Alternatively, a low-heat iron applied over paper towels will soak up the stain.

- Food

Gently scrape away any food that happens to be stuck to the wallpaper. If there are more persistent stains, gently rub them with a toothbrush dipped in detergent.

- Crayon

This can be scraped away with a blunt knife. If there are more persistent stains, use the iron and paper technique.

- Ink

  • If it's from a washable marker, try using baby wipes.
  • Alternatively, if it's non-washable ink, gently rub baking soda and water.
  • Rubbing alcohol or silver polish can be used on very durable wallpapers.

- Fingerprints

An eraser will rub the stain away with minimal pressure.

Tips and images courtesy of I Want Wallpaper


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