Can’t afford a steamer? Try removing wallpaper with laundry detergent…

Prior to starting, test a small area at the bottom of the wallcovering, on a seam, near the corner of the wall.  Try to peel a little bit off the wallpaper by pulling upward.  If it peels easy, congratulations, it’s probably a fabric back vinyl wallcovering and all you will have left to do after removing the wall covering is to wash the paste off the wall. However, if it pulls and rips into tiny little pieces, no worries, just follow the directions below.

Okay, so here is a list of items you will need to strip wallpaper:

wallpaper stripping supplies

  • Laundry detergent
  • Painters plastic
  • Garden sprayer or an empty Windex bottle
  • Old towels or drop cloths
  • 3 inch or 6-inch putty knife
  • Green scrubby
  • Bucket of clean warm water
  • Sponge or rags
  • And finally a positive attitude!

Layout dry towels or drop clothes at the baseboard to protect the floor. Lay painters plastic in sheets on top of the drop cloths.

Fill your garden sprayer or spray bottle 90% full of hot water and 10% with laundry detergent.

stripping wallpaper

Start mist spraying your homemade wallpaper remover from the top of the sheet, one full sheet at a time, for the next 5 to 8 minutes keep it moist with the mixture. Don’t rush this, patience will pay off here.

Start at the bottom of the sheet as you did before, and slide you putty knife underneath and gently start to push as the wallpaper releases from the wall. Try to keep the sheet from tearing and slowly work it by pulling up toward the ceiling.

Removing wallpaper on full sheets

Removing wallpaper paste from the wall

After you have successfully removed all the wallpaper, it is very important to remove the adhesive from the wall. Wallpaper paste painted over will crack like a spider web, so it is important to remove the paste.

Replace your sprayer solution with 100% hot water with no detergent. Start where you first started removing your sheet of wall covering and mist spray the wall again lightly.  Let it sit for about 2 minutes, then take your green scrubbies and start wiping in small circles to loosen the paste.  Follow that by wiping clean the adhesive off the wall with your wet sponge then ringing the paste residue into the clean bucket of water. Change your water every 2 to 3 sheets until finished.

I hope your wallpaper stripping job comes off as easy as mine did. Bernau Designs is a Professional wallpaper installation and removal company.  If you would like us to do your job.  We offer free estimates in the Detroit, Michigan communities. Please contact me if you have any questions at

Best Regards,

Barry Bernau