How to Clean Wallpaper Marks

By Nick Vassilev

updated: 06/04/2023

Kids are the Usual Suspects

We all know that walls that are in the public street end up getting rather messy. If it’s not the local graffiti artists/thugs taking spray paint to it, it’s the local dogs spraying it. And all the grime and so forth from cars, rain, exhaust, smoke, etc. But it’s not just outdoor walls that end up dirty. Inside walls, especially if you have children, also end up getting pretty grubby. And it’s the inside walls that you want to keep clean.

Child-made mess on walls can take several forms. The most irritating form is deliberate scribbling on walls. Less irritating but just as messy are accidental grubbiness caused by sticky hands and/or spills. The most alarming type is blood on walls when someone’s banged their head or sliced a finger – and it’s not just kids who do this (this article won’t cover large bloodstains on the walls. If you have one of these, you probably have a more serious problem on your hands. Besides, I don’t want to be an accessory after the fact).

Removing Scribbles

Let’s begin with deliberate scribbles. Some people say that if you have a wall painted in blackboard paint and provide kids with chalk, scribbles on other walls won’t happen. In my experience, kids usually scribble on walls because they know it’s naughty and it has the attraction of forbidden fruit – if they really want to draw, there’s usually plenty of paper around, not to mention concrete outdoors to chalk on. Pencil is by far the easiest substance to remove – just use a soft rubber. Felt pen is water soluble, so using a damp sponge and spot-cleaning usually works. Biro is harder to get off, but can be done with toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste. Just rub a little bit of toothpaste onto the scribble then rub gently until the scribble has gone. Then use a damp cloth to wipe off the toothpaste. Don’t use a rubber designed for biro ink (this scratches the paper). Some people say that banana skins get ink stains off wallpaper. I vaguely remember trying this one when I was about ten or so (and it was my little brother who had scribbled on the wallpaper – honest!) but I can’t remember whether it worked or not.

Crayon Scribbles are the Hardest to Get Rid of

But the worst deliberate scribble to get rid of is a crayon scribble. They’re big and they aren’t very soluble in anything. My mother’s solution (my brothers’ handiwork again) was just to hide the offending scribble behind the furniture. Not a good long-term solution. To get crayon off wallpaper, you will need to use dry cleaning fluid wiped gently over the stain, working from the outside towards the middle, then brushing with a soft brush (e.g. an old toothbrush). Blot off any excess with a clean cloth.

Removing Foods Marks

Accidental marks are usually of the food variety. To clean these off wallpaper, use a dilution of sugar soap and wash it down gently with a sponge. This task is as difficult as carpet cleaning after food or drink splash. Blot off any excess water with a dry cloth, towel or another sponge. Another time-honoured method of cleaning general grime off wallpaper is to rub it with a slice (or several slices) of fresh brown bread. This advice comes up again and again, although I can’t vouch for this one – bread tends to get eaten pretty quickly in my household, so having spare slices of fresh bread for cleaning purposes is tricky.
Marks that have fatty deposits in will need detergent to remove the fats from the paper. Just use neat detergent rather than water. Use a little water on a damp cloth to rinse off the detergent.

Use That Vacuum Cleaner

Wallpaper can be given a good general clean-over with a broom or a vacuum cleaner. Wrap a cloth around the business end of the vacuum or broom to protect the wallpaper from scratches. This regular cleaning is particularly needed with textured wallpapers – all those ridges and raised bits gather dust otherwise. This method also gets rid of odd cobwebs and could be applied as part of your regular domestic cleaning London.

Mould can be removed from wallpaper with a dab of vinegar.

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