How to Clean Wallpaper

woman with cleaning equipment stood in front of wallpaper

How To Clean Walls

After searching for and finding the perfect wallpaper, it’s worth committing to a regular cleaning schedule to keep it looking as bright and fresh as the day it was installed. A couple of hours each month is likely all that is needed to keep your walls looking beautiful.

Washing symbols for Wallpaper

Handy Tip: Take a photograph of the wallpaper and its label for future reference. The label contains details about the washability of the wallpaper, and this prevents a faulty memory from having you unsure of how to clean your wallpaper.

Removing Dust (The Vacuum Is Your Friend)

When wallpaper has even a slight texture, it will attract and hold dust. Simply trying to remove the dust with a damp cloth will not suffice. The action of wiping with a damp cloth is likely to spread the dust around and rub it into the wallpaper. The best and most efficient method is to use your vacuum with the dust brush and hose attachment. As dust is dislodged it will fall downwards, so it is best to start vacuuming at the top of the wall, working your way down one strip at a time. If your wallpaper has a flat, non-textured design, then a microfiber cloth wrapped on the end of a broom will likely work just fine.

vacuuming wallpaper

Test Unique or Textured Wallpaper Before Washing It. 

Delicate and natural coverings (grasscloth, reed, hemp, fabric etc) as well as uncoated wallpaper are easily damaged by water, and therefore cannot be washed. To find out if a wall covering is washable, squirt a little dishwashing liquid in water and dab some on the wall in an out-of-the-way spot. If the material darkens, absorbs water, or the colors run, then the covering is not washable. Clean it with wallpaper dough.

absorene brand of wallpaper cleaner

Wallpaper dough is a special product sold at paint stores and home centers. Take a handful of dough from the container, roll it into a ball, and then roll the ball across the wall covering to lift the dirt. When the dough gets dirty, knead the dirt into the centre of the ball to expose a fresh surface and continue until the dirt is no more.

Washing Your Walls

If after testing, your walls are fine with water, then proceed to gently clean your walls with a soft sponge and warm water. Make sure that the sponge isn’t too wet, to avoid water seeping under the seams and loosening the paper. It is better to clean over the seams in a downwards motion to reduce the chance of lifting any of the wallpaper edges that may be somewhat loose. Clean one or two stips at a time proceeding around the room in the same direction, blotting each area with a clean dry towel as you go. Change the water frequently and wash the sponge after each strip.

two hands, water bottle, sponge, cleaning wallpaper

How To Remove Stains From Walls

Golden Rule: Treat stains as soon as possible after staining. The older the stain, the more difficult it will be to remove.

Before attempting to clean any stains it is recommended that you contact the wallpaper manufacturer or a wallpaper expert for their advice. Your stain removal method will depend on the type and age of the stain, as well as the exact wallpaper material.

For light stains a small amount of dish-washing detergent with warm water could be the answer. Simpy apply the solution to a soft cloth and rub the area, taking care not to rub so hard that you damage the paper. If the first attempt did not remove the stain, be patient and wait for the area to completely dry before rubbing again. This process can take a while, but it prevents the paper from getting too wet which can cause it to tear or peel.

For those ugly dark stains, you may wish to try making a paste with baking soda. Simply mix a little baking soda and water and gently rub it on the stained area. Leave the mixture to sit on the stain for a few minutes before removing it with a damp cloth. It may be necessary to repeat the process a few times.


Ugly grease stains can be quite difficult to remove. There is a real possibility of damaging the paper, as it can require quite a bit of pressure to release the grease. Another option is to heat an iron to Medium Heat, hang two paper towels over the grease stain and press the iron on top of the towels.

person holding iron and kitchen roll against wallpaper to clean off grease
kitchen roll with grease against wallpaper

Hopefully, the heat will melt the grease and it will be soaked up by the paper towels. Again, this process may need to be repeated. Use fresh paper towels for each attempt, so not to transfer any of the grease removed back onto the paper. Of course, whenever working with heat you should use care.

Note: Even if your paper is scrubbable, it is better not to scrub too hard or to use strong household or abrasive cleaners.

Wallpaper – Common Cleaning Challenges 

Below are solutions to some common wallpaper cleaning issues, we hope you don’t need them, but find them useful if you do.

Important: Many wallpapers don’t stand up well to cleaning with water,  so remember to test any cleaning method in an inconspicuous area first, such as behind a cabinet or piece of furniture.

Q: How do I remove finger marks from wallpaper?

A: Try using an art gum eraser. They are softer than a traditional rubber eraser, so they will crumble as they lift the dirt of the paper.

Q: How do I remove scuff marks from wallpaper?

Many people report having success using an Art Gum Eraser. If the scuff mark is really dried on and tough to remove, try wiping with some water and liquid detergent using a clean cloth.

Q: How do I clean mould or mildew from wallpaper?

A: Try good old fashioned soap and water to begin with. Should the stain be stubborn and not want to leave, then add some white vinegar to the water and apply to the mould. Leave to soak in for 10-20 seconds, and then work inwards rubbing in a circular motion so that you don’t spread the mould further.

Q: How do I clean vinyl wallpaper?

A: Vinyl wallpaper can usually be cleaned with warm water and a mild dishwashing detergent. After you have successfully cleaned the area, make sure to rinse with a clean sponge, and then dry with a microfiber cloth, so you don’t’ leave any lint behind.

Q: How do I clean Grasscloth wallpaper?

A: Grasscloth wallpapers are water-resistant but not washable. Therefore they should not be cleaned with water, and removing stains is a delicate process. Best approach is always to remove fresh stains immediately, using a clean paper towel and then dabbing the area carefully with a damp cloth, without rubbing or soaking the wallpaper.

Q: How do I remove ink from wallpaper?

A: Apply some denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) to the area. Dab the alcohol on the affected area with a paper towel and let it sit for 10-20 seconds, before wiping gently with a clean dry paper towel. You may have to repeat more than once for stubborn stains.

Q: How do I remove permanent marker from wallpaper?

A: If the marker is fresh try dabbing the affected area with a clean cloth and soapy water. If successful, follow by dabbing with clean water to rinse, and then drying immediately with a paper towel.

If this does not work, you can make a paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Spread the paste on the stain and rub gently to remove the stain. Rinse the wallpaper with a clean rag and plain water to remove the baking soda residue.

Q: How do I remove crayon from wallpaper?

A: Waxy crayon marks can be somewhat challenging to remove, but with the help of a ‘Dry Cleaning’ solvent you should be able to remove the stain. Use a clean dry cloth or cotton swab to apply the cleaning solvent. Again, for stubborn stains it may take repeated applications for success.

Q: How do I remove food from wallpaper?

A: Start by gently scraping the food from the paper. Any stains remaining can be cleaned using a cotton swab or clean cloth dipped in a soapy water solution. After the stain has been removed, remember to rinse and blot dry.

Q: How do I remove wine from wallpaper?

A: Firstly, blot it dry, being careful not to spread the stain. Next use a clean sponge lightly dampened with a solution of warm water and a small amount of dishwashing detergent to carefully wipe it away. Blot and repeat.

If this doesn’t work, you can try adding a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to the soapy water mix. But as always, experiment first in an inconspicuous area. Once you have successfully removed the stain, reward yourself and pour another glass, but be careful this time!

If you plan to transform a room in your home with wallpaper anytime soon, we recommend using WallpaperBuddy™, the brand new tool that makes it easy to hang wallpaper by yourself.

How To Use WallpaperBuddy™

Applying wallpaper with brush and WallpaperBuddy

We hope you found this article helpful, and we would appreciate it very much if you shared it with someone else you feel might benefit from it.


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