How to Remove Wallpaper With Dishwashing Soap

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When wallpaper gets torn, filthy or you simply want to get rid of it, you face the task of removing it. Old wallpaper that has degraded over time is easier than newer wallpaper to remove, in general, but no matter the age or newness you can remove wallpaper safely. You won‘t need to use dangerous chemicals--you can use dishwashing soap and other common household materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Old sheets
  • Bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid fabric softener
  • Large sponges
  • Step stool or ladder
  • Knife
  • Small spatula (or any other scraper)
  • Nylon scrubbing pad or brush
  • Place old sheets on the floor to catch pieces of wallpaper that come off as you work. This makes cleanup easier--you can just take the sheets out to the garbage and dump out the wallpaper pieces.

  • Fill a bucket full of hot water. Hot water is best as heat helps loosen the wallpaper adhesive. Add dish soap to the water--this will add extra wallpaper loosening power to the solution. Throw in some large sponges.

  • Pour warm water in a spray bottle. Add 1 tbsp. of dish soap and 1 tsp. of fabric softener. Climb up on a step stool, a ladder or a chair, bringing a knife, a sponge wet with the solution and the spray bottle.

  • Start wiping the top of the wallpaper with the soapy sponges, getting the paper as soaked as you can. Make a cut with a knife at the top of the paper, where it meets the ceiling, and then make vertical cuts in the paper a foot apart on all areas of paper that you’ve dampened.

  • Loosen one corner of the wallpaper with the knife. Start pulling at it to bring it away from the wall an inch or so and then use your spatula (or putty knife or any other scraping instrument) to get beneath the wallpaper to pull it off.

  • Move down the ladder or step stool. Spray or sponge more of the wall to dampen it with the soapy solution. Begin tearing off the paper in strips, if you can, and spray it with the soapy water (or use the sponge) whenever the paper is resistant. Continue until you’ve removed all the wallpaper.

  • Wipe the walls down with the soapy solution again. Go over any areas containing wallpaper remnants with a sturdy nylon scrub pad or brush.

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