The Best Way to Clean Each Type of Wallpaper

If you’ve ever purchased wallpaper or even just shopped for it, then you have an idea of how much it costs. While you can find good deals, most wallpaper is fairly expensive. So instead of replacing your wallpaper, why not just clean it?

Wallpapers have been washable for around 25 years, but if you’ve ever tried to wash it you know there are still limitations to most types. All wallpaper should be labeled either non-washable, washable and now many wallpapers are actually labeled scrubbable. If yours wasn’t marked, try cleaning a leftover piece to see how well it holds up to cleaning.

Like any other item in your home, wallpaper collects dust and should be dusted or vacuumed regularly. Letting it build up will make it much harder to remove. You can use a long handled, soft brush or many times I’ve just fastened a soft rag to the end of my broom!

If the wallpaper you have was labeled washable, there was probably plastic coating applied to it. It is washable, but you don’t want to get it wet, the paper will come off the wall. You can clean it with a mild detergent in cool water, use a soft rag or sponge and make sure that you squeeze all of the excess water out of it before wiping the walls.

Gently wipe don’t scrub the wallpaper and use circular motions at all of the seams. It’s a really good idea to have two buckets, one for soapy water and one with clean water to rinse the walls. Once dried, soap can leave a film that will be very noticeable.

After you’ve cleaned a couple of strips of wallpaper, go back over it with a soft cloth and pat it to remove as much moisture as you can. If  you have stubborn spots that need to be washed again, let the paper dry thoroughly before re-washing.

Vinyl wallcoverings are generally labeled scrubbable and like the name implies are either made of vinyl or have vinyl in the paper. Scrubbable wallpapers are great for high traffic areas, since you can actually scrub them. They might have a higher initial cost, but they can look better for years longer because you can clean them much better.

You can use foam cleansers or mild soap with a cloth or sponge, but never use any type of cleaner that is abrasive. If you use a foam cleanser, follow manufacturers instructions and just spray and clean small areas at a time. Use a clean sponge in clear water to rinse the walls and pat them dry with a soft cloth.

While the purpose of vinyl wallpaper is that it is easy to clean, some vinyl wall coverings like grass cloth or burlap are still hard to get clean if they get stained. Regular cleaning is especially important on these types of materials. If they do get dirty or stained, clean in the same way that you clean vinyl wallpaper.

However, you can use a soft brush and gently scrub to get in between the material. For really stubborn stains, try a few tablespoon of non-chlorine bleach. Rinse well to help prevent streaks from forming on the wallpaper and pat it dry with a soft cloth.

Just because your wallpaper says non-washable, it doesn’t mean that you can’t clean it. There are wallpaper cleaners that you can purchase, they will come in a putty and you just rub it over the wallpaper. It’s very important that you follow the label directions exactly. You can use a vacuum or soft brush to remove any particles of the cleaner that stick to the wall.