How to Clean Wallpaper With Simple Ingredients

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.

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via Graham&Brown

What happens when your trendy wallpaper gets dirty? Well, you don’t have to panic. Cleaning wallpaper is a fairly simple process that, when done correctly, can completely rejuvenate your wall’s shimmer and shine.

Make a Wallpaper Cleaning Solution

You can clean washable wallpaper with a few simple ingredients and a little light elbow grease. If you’re just doing a light maintenance clean, use this simple cleaning solution:

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

For heavily-stained walls, try this mixture:

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

Wallpaper Cleaning Technique

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.

Drying the Walls

Always rinse with clean water and then use dry cloths to wipe away any excess water. Removing all water and moisture from the wall is essential to keeping your wallpaper in good condition.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Wallpaper


  • Dust your wallpaper regularly. For out-of-reach places, use your vacuum with an extension wand to remove cobwebs.
    • Pro tip: Start at the top and work your way down. A Swiffer duster with an extension handle also works well for dusting wallpapered wall
  • 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 is old, fragile and can’t handle soap and water. The dough lifts stains away from the paper and is reusable.


  • Attempt to clean 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.
    • Pro tip: If it gets too dirty, hang a picture over the spot, try to remove the dirty area and re-apply the wallpaper (if you have enough left over from the original installation) or start looking for a new style of wallpaper to replace the old.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.