Wallpapers from the last 25 years or so were “washable,” meaning that the ink would not run if you wet it lightly. Newer wallpapers came with vinyl coating, vinyl acrylic, solid sheet vinyl, laminated vinyl, etc. Most wallcoverings are labeled “non-washable,” “washable” or “scrubbable.” Make sure you know what type of wallpaper you have before you embark on cleaning it. If your paper wasn\’t labeled take a small piece to a wallpaper dealer and ask them what they would recommend. You can also test an inconspicuous area (as behind furniture) by wiping it with a damp cloth; if the wallpaper does not change in color or appearance, it probably can be safely cleaned as a washable wallpaper. Do not wait until your wallpaper gets too dirty before cleaning it. Vacuum off dust periodically. Gently brush it downward from the ceiling with a vacuum cleaner wall brush. You can also use a long handled soft brush, a clean cloth tied around broom or mop. Change the cloth frequently when it gets soiled to prevent unwanted streaks, Cobwebs can cause streaks when brushed down so lift them up when you are trying to brush them off.
These kind of wallpaper have a plastic coating and can be cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge. Use water sparingly and do not get them wet.
- 1. Mix a solution of mild white detergent (or hand dish washing liquid) in cool water in one bucket, and cool rinse water in another.
- 2. Clean the ceiling first.
- 3. Then clean the walls from the bottom up. Wipe overlapping areas gently in circular motion with a damp sudsy sponge with the white detergent, then with a damp rinsing sponge.
- 4. Pat gently with a clean soft cloth or bath towel to remove any surface moisture.
- 5. If any area has to be re-washed to remove soil, let it dry completely before washing again.
- 6. Some foam cleaners may be used, but only if directions on their label say they can.
Vinyl or vinyl-impregnated paper are “scrubbable” which means they can be scrubbed with a foam cleanser or all-purpose detergent. Use a sponge or soft cloth, and rinsed with clean sponge or cloth. Avoid using abrasive liquid cleaners nor any scouring powders nor any other abrasives, as these could scratch the vinyl finish.
- 1. Spray a four-foot square area, holding the can about 8 inches from surface.
- 2. Wipe off foam and soil with a clean damp sponge.
- 3. Wipe area with a rinsing sponge, and gently pat dry with clean towel.
Fabric and Textile Wallpaper
Fabrich and textile wallpaper may be the hardest to clean, unlike vinyl-coated and easy to wash wallpapers. Burlap or grass cloth wallpapers are very hard to clean when stained. Make sure that you follow directions provided by the manufacturer of that covering, or ask a dealer for a cleaner recommended for that wall covering.
Dust the wallpaper occasionally with a clean cloth or vacuum to remove loose dirt. When washing spots and stains, use a sponge or soft bristle brush soaked in a mild detergent or soap solution and then rinse well.
Add two or three tablespoons of bleach on trouble spots. Use the non-chlorine type for delicate fabrics. Rinse with plenty of clear water and dry with an absorbent towel to prevent streaking.
For non-washable papers, use commercial wallpaper cleaner that looks like putty material and rub it over the surface, following directions on the product exactly.
Remember to test first a on place usually not seen, such as behind furniture, to see how it affects paper and that it does not streak.
Then vacuum or brush off any bits of cleaner that have clung to the wall.
Spots and Stains
Finger Marks, Smudges, and Pencil Marks: Rub gently with art gum or commercial wallpaper cleaner. On washable paper, wipe with damp sponge, or sudsy sponge and then damp sponge if needed to remove mark.
Grease Spots: Hold a clean white blotter or several white paper towels over the spot and press with a warm iron until the grease is absorbed by towels.
Apply a paste spot remover if the stain still persist and brush it off after it dries to a powder. If it is a washable paper, wipe off with a sudsy sponge, followed by damp sponge.
Crayon: Scrape off any excess with table knife. Use a warm iron and white paper towel method similar with grease spots. For non-washable papers, paste spot remover (as in grease spots) or wipe gently with a cloth moistened with denatured alcohol or spot remover.
Note: denatured alcohol or spot remover are flammable and the vapors are toxic, so be sure there is no flame, spark, or pilot light in area and have plenty of ventilation. REMEMBER to use only on small spots. DO NOT clean walls with this method as it is dangerous.
For washable papers, use mild detergent solution and sponge after lifting grease. Do not smear the residue.