How to Clean Wallpaper Like a Pro

how to clean wallpaper fabric

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Everyone knows it's important to clean kitchens, bathrooms, and dirty floors, but did you know you should be cleaning your wallpaper too? Walls, like any surface, collect dust and grime over time, so it only makes sense that your wallpaper needs to be cleaned as well.

Cleaning your wallpaper ensures it stays vibrant and colorfast, as dirt won't be able to dull its luster. And cleaning your wallpaper also guarantees a longer lifespan for the wallpaper, as it will be able to stay in better condition longer. Keep reading to find out how often you should be cleaning your wallpaper, what you'll need, the different types of wallpaper, and how to keep it clean for longer,

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Pure Salt Interiors

How Often Should You Clean Wallpaper?

To keep it looking pretty, wallpaper should be cleaned seasonally—three to four times a year. Regular cleaning keeps dust and grime off the wallpaper, and it makes sure that when you do clean it, it will take far less time than if you only cleaned it once a year.

However, if you'd rather not clean your wallpaper that often, keep reading to find out how to keep it clean for longer. Either way, before you start cleaning your wallpaper, you'll need to figure out what type you have.

Types of Wallpaper

We all know that wallpaper comes in all different patterns and sizes, but did you know it comes in different types too? There are three main types of wallpaper that used today, and spoiler alert—only one of them is actually paper.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper is one of the most popular wallpapers available. Made of its' namesake, vinyl wallpaper is considered durable and easy to clean. It's designed to last 10 to 20 years and it can come in a few different forms too: solid sheet vinyl (great durability), vinyl coated fabric (great texture), and vinyl coated paper (great color).

Paper (or Cellulose) Wallpaper

Paper wallpaper is another classic—it's been around for centuries and was first used by the Medieval upper class to cover up stone walls and keep in warmth. It can capture vibrant color like nothing else, though its color can fade over time. However, its delicate nature makes it prone to tears and excess moisture, making this wallpaper is a bit more finicky to care for.

Fabric Wallpaper

Fabric wallpaper can your walls a lush, textured look. It's typically considered the highest quality wallpaper, and for good reason—fabric wallpaper practically screams elegance. It can start getting pretty expensive too, especially if the wallpaper is made up of a high-quality fabric like silk or velvet. But with great beauty also comes careful care, so make sure you know what you're getting into maintenance-wise.

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Margaret Wright

What You Need

For all types of wallpaper:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Duster
  • Vacuum wall brush extension

For vinyl wallpaper only:

  • Warm water
  • Clean sponge
  • Castile soap
  • Microfiber cloths
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Dishwashing soap, gum eraser or white bread (optional)
  • Hot iron (optional)
how to clean wallpaper bedroom

Katie LeClerq Design

How To Clean Wallpaper

Step 1: Dust the Surface

Not all wallpaper can be cleaned the same way, but they all start with the same first step: dusting. Trying to clean a still-dusty wall will only move and smear the dirt around, so you need to dust, no matter how annoying it is.

To make things easier on yourself, use a duster with a telescoping handle to reach high spots and tricky corners, or use your vacuum and a wall brush extension. If you use a wall brush extension, ensure that the brush isn't too coarse, as it could scratch your walls.

Use a microfiber cloth for small dusty spots on your wallpaper that neither the brush or the duster can reach.

If your wallpaper is fabric or paper, this is where your cleaning ends. Cleaning with anything liquid can damage the integrity and color of the wallpaper.

Step 2: Create Your Cleaning Solution

Using a bucket or large bowl, mix 1/4 cup of castile soap with a gallon of warm water. Once it's combined, soak a (non-abrasive) sponge in the solution and wring it out until it's damp.

Step 3: Wipe And Dry

Next, take your sponge and gently wipe down the vinyl wallpaper. Don't scrub or squeeze the sponge, but take note of difficult stains. Start at the top of your wall and work your way down, taking care to wipe away any drips as you do.

After this is done, let the wallpaper air-dry. If you notice it's taking awhile, or your home is humid, use a microfiber cloth to speed things along.

Step 4: Treat Any Tough Stains

Now it's time to head back to those stain-filled spots you noticed earlier. Use a gum eraser, a piece of white bread or a sponge with a dot of dish soap to gently rub at the stain. This works well for scuffs, grime, and fingerprints. Use a clean, damp sponge to wipe the area clean.

To clean up grease stains, mix a 1/2 cup of white vinegar with a cup of warm water. Use a sponge to apply it to the greasy area, then towel-dry. To get rid of crayon stains, use the edge of a dull knife to scrape away any excess crayon wax. Then place a hot iron (with no steam) upon a stack of paper towels upon the crayon stain. The stain should transfer to the paper towel.

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Erin Williamson Design

How To Keep Wallpaper Clean Longer

There's no doubt that wallpaper cleaning can be a tedious task, but you can minimize your work by following these two tips to keep wallpaper clean for longer.

  1. Consider where you install wallpaper. If you're thinking about installing wallpaper in your own home, stick to placing it in areas that are free of excess grease and moisture (AKA: not the kitchen). Wallpaper that's free of those contaminants will be far easier to maintain.
  2. Treat stains when they occur. If grease does splatter, or your four-year-old decides to make the wallpaper her canvas, treat those stains ASAP. Not only will the stain be easier to remove new rather than old, it will also make regular cleaning less involved.