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How to Remove Spots and Stains From Wallpaper

Updated February 21, 2017

Wallpaper has a way of making a decent home look extravagant but the hard part is keeping the wallpaper clean. Wallpaper can get stained by anything from grease in the kitchen, to ink in a child's room. While the methods of cleaning different stains vary greatly, most of the methods are extremely cost efficient. Using a few household products will ensure that you're ready to take on just about any stain on your wallpaper.

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  1. Make a mixture of warm water and dishwashing detergent if the stain is an old grease stain on vinyl wallpaper. Simply pour a small amount (1 tsp) of diswashing detergent into the bowl and add warm water. Dip a clean rag into the mixture and rub the old grease spot. Wet another clean rag (or the other side of the rag you're using) with clean water and rub the dishwashing detergent mixture away. Repeat the process of rubbing the spot with the mixture, and wiping it off with clean water, until the grease area is gone. If your wallpaper isn't vinyl, use Step 2.

  2. Apply talcum powder to the grease spot (non-vinyl wallpaper), whether the stain is old or new. The stain has a better chance of coming off if you attempt to clean it quicker. Allow the talcum powder to sit on the stain for a few minutes and then brush it away with a soft, clean paintbrush (or a make-up brush). Repeat this process until the grease spot is completely removed.

  3. Blot the spot with a clean, dry paper towel if it is fresh grease or oil on vinyl wallpaper. Plug in an iron near the stain and set it to a "warm" setting. Place two paper towels (folded over each other) over the oil or grease mark. Gently press the iron on the paper towel directly over the spot. The oil will absorb into the paper towels. If all of the oil or grease doesn't absorb into the paper towel, repeat the process with clean paper towels until the spot is completely gone.

  4. Mix dish detergent and warm water, as explained in Step 1, for spots or marks caused by food. Gently scrape off any food particles that will come off. Dip a soft bristle toothbrush into the detergent mixture and start gently scrubbing the spot. If your wallpaper isn't vinyl, still attempt to scrape off any food particles that will easily come off. Use a new art gum eraser to gently remove any left over marks from the food. Art gum erasers can usually be found at stores that have art supplies.

  5. Use dry cleaning solvent or silver polish for crayon marks on vinyl wallpaper. If using dry cleaning solvent, apply a small amount to a clean rag and rub the area. Continue this until the mark is very lightened or gone. If there is leftover colour, make a mixture of 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tsp bleach. Test the mixture on an inconspicuous area of wallpaper to check for colour fastness, and if the colour holds in that spot, rub some of the mixture onto the remaining colour. Rub the spot until the colour is gone, then wipe the spot with clean water. If using silver polish, simply put it on a clean rag and test an inconspicuous area for colour fastness. If the silver polish isn't harmful to your specific wallpaper, rub the crayon mark with it until the mark is gone.

  6. Dab a small amount of bleach on a cotton ball if there is ink on your wallpaper. Test the cotton ball and bleach on an inconspicuous area of wallpaper. If the colour on the inconspicuous wallpaper holds, then it is safe to use on the ink spot. Rub the ink mark with the cotton ball dipped in bleach until the ink is completely gone. Once the ink is gone, wipe off the wallpaper with a dampened, clean rag.

  7. Tip

    Some stains will be difficult to remove if they've been allowed to set in. In this case, commercial wallpaper cleaner may be used if these methods do not work.
    If the wallpaper came with specific cleaning instructions, attempt those instructions before trying any of these ideas.


    Do not use bleach if it pulls the colour out of a inconspicuous piece of wallpaper. Faded wallpaper often looks just as bad as stained.

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Things You'll Need

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Clean rag
  • Talcum powder
  • Soft paintbrush or make-up brush
  • Iron
  • Paper towels
  • Soft bristle toothbrush
  • Art gum eraser
  • Dry cleaning solvent or silver polish
  • Bleach
  • Cottonball

About the Author

Curtis Fease started writing professionally in 2007. He has a dual bachelor's degree in psychology and criminal justice from Augusta State University.

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