Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Wallpaper Stains

Hmm, everyone would agree that removing wallpaper stains can be a tricky task, especially if the wall decor surface is not washable or water-resistant. So, finding out what type of wallpaper you have is key before you even begin to wonder how to clean wallpaper stains without causing any damage. Well, this post will explore exactly that – the different types of wallpaper you may come across and the methods that you can use to clean them.

Table of Contents:

Right then, you’ll find our advice helpful if you:

  • have stained a wallpaper and you’re not sure whether the marks can be removed;
  • just want to give your wallpapered wall a general clean;
  • want to get new wallpaper that can be easily cleaned and maintained.

What types of wallpapers are easy to clean

There are, of course, many types of wallpaper that you can furnish your walls with, which come with a different price tag and level of difficulty, regarding their maintenance. So, check below our list of some of the most undemanding types of wall-covering materials and those that are classed as high maintenance.

  • Vinyl wallpaper. Vinyl-coated wallpaper is easy to maintain and can be installed in any type of room. You can confidently use wet cleaning methods to remove dirt and stains.
  • Anaglypta wallpaper. Used generically now but Anaglypta is actually a brand name. The product is paintable and washable.
  • Foil wallpaper. Foil wallpaper comes with different types of backing, has a metallic sheen and should be installed on perfectly even walls. The good news is that it’s also washable. 
  • Embossed wallpaper. Similar to Anaglypta, embossed wallpaper can be painted over and is usually easy to clean.
  • Fibreglass-backed foil wallpaper. Extremely tricky to install, this type of wallpaper has a metallic finish and is recommended for kitchens and bathrooms, as it can be washed.
  • Moire wallpaper. The product has a vinyl coating and is rather easy to install and remove. Moire wallpaper is washable and low-maintenance.
  • Mylar wallpaper. Mylar is actually a trademark name. These wallpaper products come with a paper backing but are covered with a polyester film, which makes them washable.
  • Nonwoven wallpaper. This type of wallpaper is breathable and usually washable. Made from both natural and synthetic fibres, the material is eco-friendly, mould-resistant, and easy to install, maintain and remove.
  • Non-washable wallpaper. Silk, Bamboo, Natural Grass-Cloth, Fabric, Photo Mural, Paper, Flock, Natural String wallpaper are all wall decor products that if stained, you may find it hard to remove the mark and restore the wallpaper’s original state.

If you are not sure what kind of wallpaper you have, there is at least one way to check whether it can be safely cleaned or not. Mix two drops of dishwashing liquid in a cup of warm water. Apply a very small amount of this solution to a hidden place of your wallpaper. Behind some furniture, for example. If the water soaks in or the colour starts to bleed, then your wallpaper should not be cleaned with water-based solutions.

How to clean wallpaper stains in general

Remove dust from wall surface

Usually, you should dust your wallpapers with a microfibre cloth at least every two months. As for those hard to reach places on your ceiling, use an extendable duster with a flat brush attachment.
Alternatively, you can use your vacuum cleaner with a soft attachment.
Begin from the ceiling and swipe down in lines. Try not to rub the attachment on the wall while vacuuming. If dust falls on the ground, sweep that as well.

It’s important to always remove any dust before cleaning your wallpaper. If you apply a water and soap solution on dirty wallpapers with cobwebs, all of the impurities will turn into dark smudges, making the job even harder.

How to wash your wallpaper

  1. Mix two tablespoons of dish soap with warm water and pour the mixture into a bucket.
  2. Dip a non-abrasive, soft sponge or a microfibre cloth into the solution. Wring it out until it’s just damp, so you wouldn’t saturate the wallpaper.
  3. Try out the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area of your wallpaper, just in case.
  4. Begin from the top of the wall and work your way down in even sections one at a time. Be careful, not to scrub too firmly.
  5. Rinse every section with clean water and try not to use too much of it. Otherwise, you might end up with damp spots.
  6. Dry the surface with a clean, dry towel. This is so the wallpaper wouldn’t soak up too much moisture.

*If the wallpaper you’re cleaning is in the kitchen, then you might be able to remove most grease stains with the soap and water solution. However, mould stains should be cleaned separately.

Clean the surface with wallpaper dough

Non-washable wallpaper can be cleaned with a special product, called wallpaper dough. It can be reused several times before it becomes dirty and needs replacing with a fresh piece. Use on natural-fibre wallpaper that has not been additionally coated. Take a piece of dough, make a ball and roll it over the wall. The product easily lifts dirt from the surface and is ideal for wallpaper spot cleaning.

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How to clean different wallpaper stains

Let’s note again one thing, here. Removing any type of stains from non-washable wallpaper is best attempted after referring to the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. So, below, we share some wallpaper stain removal tips that are suitable mainly for walls covered in a material that can withstand wet cleaning methods. But you’ll also find some stain cleaning advice that is applicable to wallpaper that can’t be washed.

  • Grease stains. A mixture of water and mild detergent can come handy if you need to remove grease stains from vinyl-coated and other types of washable wallpaper. Alternatively, you can also use a cloth, dipped in diluted white vinegar. For non-washable wall coverings, your best bet is to try removing the grease stain by using an iron and a clean cloth. To help the process, you can also cover the mark beforehand with some talcum powder, which will absorb some of the grease stains.
  • Wine stains. The following method is good for use on washable wallpaper, which has been stained by wine, tea, coffee or another type of non-greasy liquid. Mix some mild soap with peroxide and dab the stain gently with a sponge. Rinse again with a clean damp cloth.
  • Crayon marks. Remove the crayon as much as possible with a plastic spatula type of tool or a plastic card. Then apply the good old warm iron and cloth method to lift the stain. If your wallpaper is washable, clean any remaining marks with a soap solution.
  • Mould spots. Mould and mildew stains can be removed with diluted vinegar and a sponge, as long as your wallpaper cannot be damaged by any wet cleaning techniques. Make sure to dry the area afterwards with a clean cloth. For more info on dealing with mould, check out our article about how to get rid of mould from your walls.
  • Plasticine stains. Kids are the culprits, usually, behind blu tack or plasticine “decorations” on your wallpaper. Again, after removing the material, you can warm up your iron and use a napkin to lift the stain. Any remaining grease marks can be cleaned with a bit of white spirit if the wallpaper is not made of natural material.
  • Fingerprints. Even clean hands can leave marks on the wallpaper, as our fingertips are covered in natural oil. You can try to remove such marks by using an eraser without applying too much pressure.
  • Nicotine stains. You can hope to really clean nicotine stains off washable types of wallpaper only. A slightly damp cloth, dipped in a mild soap solution, will usually do the job. If you have a badly stained wallpaper from smoking indoors, which has not been covered in a washable protective coating, then, you should consider replacing the wall covering with a new, low-maintenance product.

Do you need professional cleaning help?

We hope the above wallpaper cleaning tips can save the day should you need them. However, if you feel out of your depth restoring the clean state of your walls, then, why not entrust the job to a professional cleaner from Fantastic Services? We work with experienced cleaners who can perform wall spot cleaning effectively and usually in less time than it would take you, for instance. Note, however, that the quality of the result will depend on the type of wall (wallpaper) you’ve got, and the type and age of the stains. Contact us for more information on our domestic cleaning services anytime!

Visit the main website for price rates on our professional domestic cleaners!


  • Washable wallpaper is not hard to clean, as long as you follow some common-sense rules;
  • Never use abrasive cleaning solutions and materials;
  • Always test your cleaning technique on a small hidden area, first;
  • A Magic Eraser type of product is often good to use as a stand-alone wallpaper stain removing method or in combination with most of the above-described tips.


Have you ever stained your wallpaper? Did you manage to clean it up? Tell us in the comments!

Image source: Depositphotos /

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