Pair your household removal solutions with a wallpaper scraper for the best results.

How to Remove Wallpaper With Household Items

by Amanda Bell

Removing wallpaper causes a mess and requires a lot of time, and tackling the job with store-bought solutions can cause fumes and be quite expensive. As a busy mom, you don't need any of these problems. Basic household supplies tackle the job as well as the store solutions without making your home smell like a chemical plant. Start by cutting into the wallpaper with a scoring tool to expose the adhesive beneath, which allows your household solutions to work more efficiently.

Moonlighting Hair Dryer

Your hair dryer can do more than give you the perfect blow-out: It also softens adhesive, allowing you to use your fingers or a scraper to quickly loosen the paper from the wall. Set the dryer to the highest heat setting available and hold it over a seam for one to two minutes. Pull at the lifting seam with your fingers, moving the dryer over the area as you work. Switch to a wallpaper scraper if necessary. Work your way across the wall until you remove all the wallpaper.

Double-Duty Fabric Softener

A solution of fabric softener and water can make quick work of removing wallpaper. Add a tablespoon or more of fabric softener to a spray bottle filled with warm water; completely saturate one section of wallpaper with the solution and let it sit for about 20 minutes. If the wallpaper doesn’t scrape away easily, add a bit more fabric softener to the mix, going as high as 1-part softener to 2-parts water. Spray the wallpaper again; let it sit and scrape or peel away the eyesore.

Amplify the Old Standby

A spray bottle filled with water is a classic for removing wallpaper, but common household items can drastically increase its efficiency. Add a few squirts or tablespoons of dishwashing detergent to a large spray bottle and fill it up with hot water. For a natural and kid-safe alternative, opt for white distilled vinegar at a 1-to-1 ratio. Spray your solution of choice along a small section of the wallpaper, saturating it. Wait 10 to 20 minutes and then scrape the wallpaper off the wall.

Minimizing Messes and Other Tips

Removing wallpaper is not going to be the neatest household project you tackle, but you can minimize the cleanup involved. Protect your floors with a dropcloth, perhaps left over from painting your child’s room, sealing it along the wall with painter’s tape. For a somewhat drip-free project, add laundry starch to your removal solution to thicken it; mix your detergent, vinegar or fabric softener with water in a bucket and add a few tablespoons of starch. Mix well and apply the solution with a sponge. You’ll get fewer drips and puddles on the dropcloth, and the starch will help the solution stay in place on the wall, penetrating the adhesive more effectively.

About the Author

Amanda Bell spent six years working as an interior designer and project coordinator before becoming a professional writer in 2010. She has published thousands of articles for various websites and clients, specializing in home renovation, DIY projects, gardening and travel. Bell studied English composition and literature at the University of Boston and the University of Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images