Ten Tips for Cleaning Wallpaper By Alex Whitecroft


1. Pick washable wallpaper 

You can find out how washable a wallpaper is on most wallpaper websites in the ‘product summary’ section or on the packaging. Look out for vinyl/acrylic covered wallpaper as this can be scrubbed with mild detergents. If you think you will need a paper that can be washed, maybe avoid a plain-paper wallpaper which aren’t as hard-wearing. 

2. Look for the labels 

Before going at the walls with a scrubbing brush, check the instructions that came with the wallpaper.
All of www.iwantwallpaper.co.uk’s products are supplied with easy to follow symbols that signify how to clean them, cleaning agents to use and even how much pressure to apply (information is also listed alongside products on the website). 

These range from ‘spongeable’ (only dab fresh paste off when hanging the paper when it’s still wet), to ‘highly scrubbable’ (scrub using mild detergents to remove oils and other tough stains). For more details about ‘washability’ and ‘scrubbability’; head to I Want Wallpaper’s wallpaper symbols guide. 

3. Dust or vacuum the walls 

A weekly going over with the duster will keep walls looking fresh and limit the accumulation of cobwebs and ‘dust bunnies’ (fluffy clumps of dust particles) that tend to gather on walls. Use a feather duster with a long handle or alternatively vacuum with the cleaner attachment for hard to reach areas. Try not to press on the wall with the vacuum extension so as not to leave a mark or transfer dirt. Always vac or dust the walls prior to washing them. 

4. Get everything you need ready before starting to clean 

• Ladder (free standing is best so as not to damage wallpaper
when leaning it against the wall)
• Hoover/duster
• Plastic/cloth sheet (Line the floor and nearby furniture with a large sheet (preferably plastic), in case of drips, dust or spillages)

 • Soft brush 

• Bucket of clean water
• Bucket of water with mild detergent • Plain, clean sponge
• Clean cloth
• Small towel 

5. Do a patch test 

Find an discreet spot and test the cleaning solution to avoid costly damage. 

6. Be sparing 

Too much detergent can actually attract dirt and leave stains. Similarly, too much water can damage the paper and leave water marks. Dip the sponge in the soapy water and wring out excess moisture until the sponge is just slightly damp. 

7. Be methodical 

Start at the top left corner and wipe the wall with soapy water using gentle downward motions being careful to avoid loosening or ripping conjoining edges. After cleaning a strip, use the bucket filled with clean water (and the fresh cloth) to remove excess soap. Clean from top to bottom (to avoid drips) and work across the wall from left to right. Rinse the sponges and change the water regularly, so as not to just move dirt around. 

8. Towel dry 

Dry each section with a towel as you go. Using a towel will gently absorb any leftover moisture and limit the risk of water marks. 

9. Be gentle 

Even scrubbable papers need a soft touch – it’s paper after all. Avoid bleach or harsh cleaning solutions. Similarly, abrasive products like hard-bristle brushes may be too coarse for this job. Gentle downward motions will be effective enough to clean off the majority of dirt/stains. 

10. And for hard to shift stains... 

Try these WALLPAPER HACKS to remove tougher stains but always remember to spot-check first. 


There are a number of methods for using scuff marks – an eraser being one of the most effective. Baking soda/water can also be used but is slightly abrasive so always test it first. 


Talcum powder can absorb grease stains on non-vinyl wallpaper (simply apply and leave for five mins then brush away). Alternatively, a low-heat iron applied over paper towels should soak up the stain. 


Gently scrape away food that has stuck to the wallpaper. For more persistent stains, gently rub with a toothbrush dipped in detergent. 


Scrape away crayon with a blunt knife. Use the iron and paper towel technique to lift more stubborn marks. 


Baby wipes should remove the ink from washable markers Gently rub baking soda and water onto non-washable ink. Rubbing alcohol or silver polish can be used on very durable wallpapers. 


An eraser should rub the stain away with minimal pressure.