Homes with kids, pets, or even just yourself will get messy, no matter what you do. Unless something dramatic happens, you may not think cleaning your walls is very important. But cleaning your home’s walls becomes more reasonable when you realize that fingerprints, oil, germs, dust, and pollen build up on them over time. Dirty walls can worsen allergies for family members, and touching unclean walls can make people sick—especially children.

While wiping down or spraying a painted wall once a year may be enough, cleaning your designer wallcoverings may involve a little more care. Following these top tips for cleaning and maintaining wallpaper in your home will prevent damage to your wallpaper and protect you and your family.

Standard Wallpaper

Wallpapers have changed a lot over time, and so have the methods necessary to clean them. For a long time, the toy product we now know as Play-Doh was actually a stain-free method to remove coal residue from wallpaper when the wallcoverings weren’t washable. Nowadays, standard wallpapers are less easy to ruin, so you can use warm water and dish soap on a slightly damp sponge to spot clean trouble areas. Dusting and gently wiping down walls throughout the year will prevent any buildup that would make a yearly wash tedious.

Note: Always check the wallpaper manufacturer’s instructions before getting wallpaper wet in any way. Some wallpapers still peel or bubble when damp. If you no longer have the manufacturer’s instructions, call for instructions, or choose a small, inconspicuous area to test carefully. If your cleaning routine damages the wallpaper during testing, do not continue with this method.


Vinyl wallpaper is the most trouble-resistant option, making it perfect for rooms that get damp or dirty. Vinyl wallpaper can stand up to a good amount of scrubbing with the same warm water and soap on a damp sponge. Avoid cleaning products that have strong chemical ingredients, such as bleach, that could alter the appearance of your wallpaper or drip and ruin the flooring below. Wash and dry with non-abrasive options, like soft towels, to prevent small tears in the wallcovering.

Peel & Stick or Removable

Self-adhesive wallpapers are perfect for people who want to instantly change the feel of a room by covering either an entire wall or just a section. You can easily remove, reposition, or replace many of these styles of wallpaper. Peel-and-stick wallpapers are often made of vinyl and can be cleaned in the same way, though with extra caution so that you don’t shift the wallcovering.

Cleaning and maintaining wallpaper in your home are oft-ignored aspects of keeping a sanitary living space. Luckily, walls do not need cleaning as frequently as the rest of the home. Dust at least once a month to keep allergens away. You can spot-clean walls and wallpaper as necessary or at least once a year in high-touch areas. A little bit of care will keep your home’s walls looking spectacular and your family happy to have a night in.