How to Clean Wallpaper With Simple Ingredients

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Wallpaper is back — on accent walls and backsplashes, in bathrooms and bedrooms. When that papered wall gets dirty, here's what you need to do.

via Graham&Brown

What happens when your trendy wallpaper gets dirty? Don’t panic!

What You’ll Need

You can clean washable wallpaper with a few simple ingredients and a little light elbow grease. Experts suggest using this solution:

  • One gallon of warm water
  • A good squeeze of any clear dishwashing liquid

For heavily-stained walls, try this mixture

With either mixture, before you start cleaning always test the solution on a discrete place to make sure it doesn’t harm the wallpaper.

Next, wipe the wallpaper down with a clean sponge or cleaning cloth dampened with the mixture. Start at the bottom and work your way to the top, washing one section at a time. Be sure not to scrub too hard or get the paper too saturated.

Always rinse with clean water and then use dry cloths to wipe away any excess water.

Check out our collection of secret cleaning tips from the pros in this video.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Wallpaper

Do dust your wallpaper regularly. For out-of-reach places, use your vacuum with an extension wand to remove cobwebs. Start at the top and work your way down. A Swiffer duster with an extension handle also works well for dusting wallpapered walls.

Don’t use soft scrubs, scouring powders, scrubbing pads or Magic Erasers. These and similar products can scratch or tear your wallpaper.

You can, however, try wallpaper dough. Graham & Brown, a company that specializes in wallpaper and wall murals, notes that wallpaper dough is a good alternative if your wallpaper can’t handle soap and water. The dough lifts stains away from the paper and is reusable.

The company notes: “Simply pull a small part away from the pot and roll it into a ball. Then, using your hand, roll it over the dirty areas of the wallpaper, and you should see the dirt lift away. When the surface of the dough becomes dirty, re-roll the dough so that the dirt is absorbed into the [center] of the ball, and then reuse. When the full dough becomes dirty, dispose of it and start afresh with a new piece.”

Wallpaper that is hand-printed, textured or made from grass and other natural fibers usually cannot be cleaned. The best advice: Enjoy it while you can. If it gets too dirty, hang a picture over the spot, try to remove the dirty area and re-paper (if you have enough left over from the original installation) or start looking for new wallpaper to replace the old.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.