How to Clean Wallpaper Without Ruining It

It’s easy to clean wallpaper without ruining it as long as you have the right information and the right tools. After determining what type of surface you are working with, cleaning your wallpaper just takes a bit of your time and a few common household supplies. 

Cleaning wallpaper without damaging it requires a little attention to detail. However, it shouldn’t turn into a long, drawn-out task. With the right materials and some practical cleaning tips, your wallpaper will soon look bright and clean. 

Step One: Check What Type of Wallpaper You Have

It’s essential to check what type of wallpaper you have before you start the cleaning process. Wallpaper was traditionally made out of 100% textiles or paper. And while wallpaper made with 100% paper ingredients is still used today, most modern wallpaper is made out of vinyl or fiberglass. 

  • Vinyl is a strong, long-lasting, and easy-to-clean material and is one of the most versatile and popular materials used in consumer products. It’s also a popular material for wallpaper designs for the dining room because food stains and fingerprints can easily be removed. 
  • Fiberglass wallpaper is popular with home decorators because it’s tear and impact resistant. Like vinyl, fiberglass is easy to clean with a few basic household supplies.

As long as you have only vinyl and fiberglass wallpapers, you can clean your wallpaper without ruining it using nonabrasive cleaning supplies. You should always avoid using liquids on porous wallpaper types like grasscloth and fabric wallpaper as this could damage the wallpaper or cause it to tear. These kinds of wallpaper should be dusted but never wiped.

Step Two: Gather Your Cleaning Materials

After determining what type of wallpaper you have, gather the following supplies:

  • A bucket 
  • A spray bottle (for spot stain removal)
  • A large soft sponge or a soft cloth such as a microfiber cloth
  • A soft-bristle brush or vacuum cleaner
  • A wall brush extension
  • Warm water mixed with mild dish soap or cleaning solution
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Distilled white vinegar (an alternative to chlorine bleach or to treat grease stains)
  • An art gum eraser
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels
  • A stepladder

Step Three: Clean Your Wallpaper

Once you have gathered your tools, follow these steps to clean your wallpaper: 

Dust Your Walls and Treat Any Smudges and Stains

  1. Dust the wallpaper with a soft-bristled brush, microfiber cloth, or vacuum cleaner extension. 
  2. Take a step back and identify any stains, smudges, or mildew on your wallpaper. 
  3. Lightly mist each spot with the vinegar and warm water solution and gently rub each spot using a soft sponge or cloth. Use the art gum eraser to remove things like scuffs and fingerprints.
  4. Use cotton swabs or paper towels dabbed in a chlorine and water solution (one part chlorine, three parts water) to remove tough stains and mildew.

Mix Warm Water With Soap 

Now that your walls are dusted, mix your bucket of warm water and mild hand soap, cleaning solution, or dishwashing detergent. Be extra careful of soaps that contain harsh ingredients or dyes that could stain, damage, or remove your wallpaper. Ammonia and 100% chlorine bleach are two substances you’ll want to avoid. 

Lightly Sponge the Wallpaper

Next, dip the sponge in the bucket of soapy water, wring it out to remove the excess water, and begin to scrub your wallpaper where dirt has accumulated. Use the stepladder and wall brush extension to clean any hard-to-reach corners. Always scrub the wallpaper in the same direction each time. Clean from the bottom of your wallpaper to the top to help you keep track of the areas you’ve already cleaned. 

Step Four: Let Your Wallpaper Dry, Then Retouch

After cleaning your wallpaper, you can dry it with a paper towel or leave it to air dry. Either way, it’s a good idea to double-check your wallpaper in 24 hours to see if you need to retouch any spots. Wallpaper doesn’t need to be cleaned very often. However, some people suggest that wallpaper should be dusted at least every few months and cleaned thoroughly about four times a year. 

Well-installed high-quality wallpaper can last for years and cleaning it regularly can help it maintain its luster and color. You may also decide to change your wallpaper style before your current paper wears out. The wide range of fun designs on offer—including vibrant florals, whimsical animals, and sophisticated Art Deco wallpaper prints—makes it easy to switch up your wallpaper style every few years. 

Cleaning Your Wallpaper Is Easy!

You can easily clean fiberglass or vinyl wallpaper without damaging it as long as you’re careful and use the right cleaning supplies. It’s important to clean off the accumulated dust and dirt regularly for a healthy home environment.

Learning how to clean wallpaper correctly can also help to extend the life, brightness, and texture of your wallpaper print. Since wallpaper is often a style staple in a room, maintaining its radiance by cleaning it now and again can help keep your wallpaper looking as beautiful and brilliant as it was when it was originally installed.

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