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How to Clean Wallpaper

Wallpaper is an investment that needs to be delicately cleaned regularly because every type of wallpaper collects dust, air-borne grease particles, grime, and fingerprints around light switches. We’ve outlined a few tools and supplies to keep your wallpaper looking bright and clean.

How Often to Clean Wallpaper?

Smudges and grease marks should be cleaned immediately. We’ve explained multiple options for various types of stains. Mildew should be treated as soon as it is evident. Finally, wallpaper should be dusted at least once a month.

Things to Note

If you have access to manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning the wallpaper you have in your home, be sure to reference them to know the recommended cleaning techniques. It is also essential to know what the wallpaper is made of to avoid damage from cleaning methods and products.

If you are unsure about the type of wallpaper you have, test it to make sure it can be cleaned. Mix a drop or two of dishwashing liquid in one cup of warm water. Apply a small amount of the solution to a hidden area of the wallpaper. If the water soaks in or the color bleeds, do not attempt to do an overall cleaning or use water-based solutions on stains.

Things You Need

SuppliesTools
Dishwashing LiquidMicrofiber duster
WaterBucket
CornstarchSponge
Plastic WrapGum eraser
White VinegarMicrofiber cloth
Paper TowelsDull-edged knife
Chlorine BleachIron
Cotton Swabs

Type of Wallpaper and their Durability

Type of WallpaperDurability & Treatment
VinylVinyl wallpaper and vinyl-coated fabric and papers are some of the most durable and easiest to clean. Resistant to water damage and most cleaning products, these are ideal for bathrooms and kitchens.
Fiber glass / Commercial Grade WallpaperUltra-durable, flame and stain resistant, this is often found in commercial settings. It will hold up well to scrubbing and repeated exposure to moisture.
Non WovenThis is a blend of synthethic and natural fibres similar to coffee filters. They are tear resistant and allow walls to breath however, they are non-washable and difficult to remove.
Sure StripSure Strip Wallpaper from York Wallcoverings is the easiest wallpaper you’ll ever install. Printed on a unique, high-performance substrate with a special, pre-pasted adhesive, Sure Strip Removable Wallpaper smooths effortlessly onto the wall and removes in full strips when it’s time to redecorate.
GrassclothMade from natural components such as jute, sisal, hemp or reeds, grasscloth wallpaper is a highly textured, woven wallpaper. This wallpaper, while gorgeous, will not hold up to water or traditional cleaning products. Being gentle is necessary.
Peel and StickYork’s Peel and Stick Wallcoverings are made of vinyl. As such, it possesses the durability of vinyl flooring as shown above.

Detailed Cleaning Instructions

STEP 1 – REMOVE SURFACE DUST
Every type of wallpaper should be dusted monthly with a microfiber duster or vacuumed with the upholstery brush attachment to remove cobwebs, dust, and loose soil. Begin at the top of the wall and move down in long, smooth strokes. This will remove surface soil and keep you from spreading it around as you clean.

STEP 2 – MIX CLEANING SOLUTION
To clean washable vinyl and fiberglass wallpaper, mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with one gallon of warm water in a bucket. Stir well to disperse the soap.

STEP 3 – WIPE WALLS
Dip a soft sponge into the cleaning solution and wring it out until it is only slightly damp. Begin at the top of the wall and work down in even sections. This will catch any dirty drips that may occur. Try not to over-saturate the wallpaper or scrub too vigorously.

STEP 4- DRY WALLPAPER
Allow the wallpaper to air-dry or use a microfiber cloth to hand dry the walls.

STEP 5 – INSPECT FOR STAINS
After the walls are dry, inspect the wallpaper for specific stains and heavily soiled areas. The most susceptible areas are around light switch plates, behind sinks, and areas that a child can reach with a crayon.

FOR SPECIFIC STAINS, REFERENCE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING

SCRUFFS, DIRT , FINGERPRINTS

Use an art gum eraser to gently rub away the scuffs, soil, and fingerprints. This method can be used on all types of wallpaper. On vinyl and fiberglass papers, use a dot of dishwashing liquid on a wet sponge to wipe away the smudges. Rinse the area with a clean sponge dipped in plain water and wrung until just slightly damp.

GREASE SPOTS

Apply a liberal amount of cornstarch to a square of plastic food wrap. Attach the wrap to the wallpaper over the grease stain and allow the cornstarch to absorb the oil for at least 24 hours. Remove and brush away the cornstarch with a soft cloth. Repeat if needed.

For grease stains on vinyl or fiberglass wallpaper, mix one-half cup of distilled white vinegar with one cup of warm water. Dip a sponge in this solution and apply it to the stained area. Towel dry and repeat if needed.

CRAYON MARKS

Use a dull-edged knife or the edge of a credit card to gently scrape away excess crayon wax. Place several layers of white paper towels over the marks and press with an iron (no steam) on the lowest setting. The wax will transfer to the paper towels. Repeat with clean towels for each mark.

MILDEW STAINS

For mildew stains on vinyl or fiberglass papers, mix a solution of one-fourth cup chlorine bleach and one cup of water. Using a sponge or cotton swabs, dab the solution on the mildew stains. Let work for five minutes and then wipe away with a sponge dipped in plain water. Repeat as needed.

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