When my husband and I bought the house that we live in now, we were completely overwhelmed by the amount of wallpaper covering our kitchen and bathrooms. It wasn’t hip, fun, colorful wallpaper, either – the kitchen walls were covered with ivy and we had one floral and one seaside-themed bathroom. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it didn’t fit our style, either.
We knew we had to remove the wallpaper, and we knew we had our work cut out for us.
First, we removed the wallpaper from the kitchen. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it took us days. Next, we did the small seashell bathroom, which also took a significant amount of time. By the time we were finished with those two rooms, we simply didn’t have it in us to remove the wallpaper from another bathroom. We decided to live with the floral wallpaper in our own bathroom, and we would worry about it later.
Two weeks after we moved in, our oldest daughter ripped a large sheet of it off the wall while I was in the shower. She’d seen what we did with wallpaper, and she thought she’d help us out. While it was (in spirit) a thoughtful gesture, what it means for us is that we have lived with a raggedy, partially-papered bathroom for two years now.
Enough is enough. We decided this week that we have to get that wallpaper off once and for all.
There are commercially available wallpaper strippers available, but they’re expensive and full of chemicals. Two years ago when we moved in, we used a solution of water and fabric softener that we purchased just for the occasion (I never use it for laundry). It worked pretty well, but this time I wanted to find an all-natural wallpaper remover. I made my own and I’m pleased to say that it is very effective.
Chemical-Free Homemade Wallpaper Remover
- ⅓ cup of lemon juice
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- Spray bottle (find them here)
- Scraper – many options for this:
Before you begin anything, make sure your room is ready for its facelift. Remove all the furniture that you can, and either cover the flooring and furnishings that remain or be prepared for an extra step in your clean-up process.
There are different methods of wallpaper removal, but what has worked best for us is to remove the top layer of paper first – it is thicker and comes off easily. What’s left is a thin, papery residue that is quite stuck to the walls, especially in the areas where glue was applied. It can be picked off by itself, but it takes ages.
When you are down to a thin, brown layer, spray a section with your solution. Start with a small patch or a partial wall to see how quickly you will be able to get the paper off. Let the wallpaper removal solution sit for 3-5 minutes. This is just enough time to let the solution penetrate the paper and begin to dissolve the glue, but not enough time for it to dry.
When your wallpaper is wet and kind of slimy, go ahead and begin peeling it off. Fingernails are perfect for starting it out, but I wouldn’t depend on your hands too much. This solution is acidic, so too much exposure will leave you feeling raw. It’s best to use a scraper for the majority of the work.
NOTE: If your wallpaper is only coming off in tiny pieces after allowing the solution to soak, experiment with peeling the wallpaper right after spraying the solution. Results depend on your particular wallpaper, and this method may yield better results for some.
The fantastic thing about this vinegar and lemon juice solution is that it’s easy to clean up. Aside from the cost and the chemicals in the fabric softener, the cleanup was my biggest complaint with that method. Vinegar and lemon juice actually help you clean! If you wipe the excess off before it’s dry, you won’t have anything to do at all. If, like me, you are too focused on removing your wallpaper to clean at the same time, you will have to eventually gather up all of the paper scraps and then clean the surface beneath them. A quick spray with your favorite all-purpose cleaner and a wipe-down should do the trick!
Have you ever had to remove pesky wallpaper?
Share your tips for easy, natural removal below!