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How To Easily Remove Wallpaper With A Fabric Softener

Updated on September 15, 2011

How To Remove Wallpaper With Fabric Softener

Removing old wallpaper can be an arduous and time-consuming process. Happily for us, applying a concoction of fabric softener and water can soften old wallpaper and the underlying glue to the point where it literally falls off. There are no overarching guarantees however, in order to be sure I suggest you test your concoction (more on that later) on a small quadrant and make sure it does work for the given material.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves already! As promised, this article aims to be an easy to follow step-by-step guide, so we'll start at the very beginning and take a look at what we'll need to have before we even begin to think about spicing up our living quarters (or someone else's).

Removing wallpaper with a fabric softener can melt it right off!
Removing wallpaper with a fabric softener can melt it right off!

A What Knife?

Not all of us are familiar with household nomenclature! A putty knife is essentially a spatula, a knife featuring a wide, flat blade that is used to scrape surfaces.

Wallpaper Removal Checklist

Not all of these are strictly necessary, and in many cases you can improvise (I'll let you know when).

  • Duct tape - You'll need to seal off all electrical outlets in the room before you start. You never know!
  • A lot of old newspapers - In order to protect the floor and other sensitive areas from being tarnished.
  • A pair of helping hands for the furniture, if necessary.
  • A generale purpose knife with a keen edge and a putty knife (check to the right for more information!).
  • A sturdy pair of gloves.
  • A bucket of water and a sponge.
  • Some rags to wipe the wallpaper down with after having sprayed it. Incidentally, you'll also want a spray bottle!
  • Some fabric softener.

Preparing The Room(s)

In order to limit any creative fallout (you know what I mean) remember to cover all areas of the room that you don't want to tarnish, including the floor, with old newspapers or old clothes. Frontal panels on sockets and electrical outlets should be removed and isolated with duct tape. Turn off the electricity in the household if you can. Any and all wiring should be temporarily and forcibly emigrated to a new room while you carry out your makeover.

Furniture too should be removed. Ironically, there's always that one set piece that is too large to fit through the door, and has you wondering how on earth it got in there to begin with, in which case I wish you the best of luck!

Things get a lot worse before they get better!
Things get a lot worse before they get better!

Let's Get Started

All set? Now we get to have a little fun. Before you start playing the part of the alchemist, try scoring (cutting) the wallpaper into quadrants and peeling the wallpaper off manually. Some kinds of wallpaper are designed to be stripped off rather easily, but don't get your hopes up, chances are you didn't get organized in vain. And anyway, it's a lot more fun this way.

  1. Scoring the wallpaper serves to allow your concoction to more easily soften the wallpaper. Don't overdo it though, you'll want to avoid damaging the wall itself!
  2. Now take your bucket and mix your fabric softener with warm/hot water in equal parts, I.E 50:50.
  3. Put on your gloves and fill up your spray bottle with your new mix and apply it uniformly (or alternatively work in sections) to all of the wallpaper, don't neglect the corners.
  4. Let it lie for around a half-an-hour. That should give the solution plenty of time to work it's magic.
  5. Use your rag and your white vinegar and water solution to neutralize residue on the wall before applying any new wallpaper. Make sure it's absolutely dry.

Bear in mind that if it doesn't simply peel off the first time, it is normal. You may have to repeat the process several times -- and use up plenty of softener and water in the process.

I Did It?

Yes, it's that simple! If you're smiling and watching the wallpaper peel off like my skin in the summer then clap yourself on the back, it's done. If not, you may (though I doubt it) have to give another solution a shot.

I hope you enjoyed my article on how to remove wallpaper with fabric softener, if you have any concerns, suggestions or campfire tales please let me know in the comments section below!


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    • Jakob Barry profile image

      Jakob Barry 5 years ago

      Wow. What a great way to get this job done. I remember the first time I removed wall paper and it wasn't easy. Next time I'll be sure to try this out. Thanks!

    • profile image

      chris 6 years ago

      worked GREAT!!!

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks ...Nice hub

    • FW Keyes profile image

      FW Keyes 6 years ago

      Thanks for this great tip. I've heard of a few other ways but this way seems best by far. The room will at least smell better using this method instead of some other ones.

      Thanks again.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks Ddraigcoch! Yes, it is a surprisingly painless method, worth giving it a shot :) Thanks for your time.

    • Ddraigcoch profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from UK

      I knew a few different methods, but never heard this one. I will be sure to give it a go when I do my bedroom in a few months.

      Thank you kindly for a great tip.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      Fabric softner works so well getting off wallpaper. I have used it before and the room then smells so good.

      Good hub.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      @tills Thanks for the feedback, I'll have to check it out!

      @Steph Unpleasant hours doesn't really do it justice, hence the somewhat manic tone of the hub :D

      @Bay Thanks for the comment :) Sounds like you're done wallpapering, as it were. There's no guarantee with all this, I ought to mention the uncertainty principle in here somewhere!

    • bayareagreatthing profile image

      bayareagreatthing 6 years ago from Bay Area California

      I like this method. When we bought our house 10 year ago, every wall was covered with horrible 80s wallpaper. It took over a week to peel it all off. One of the problems I had wasn't the wallpaper it was the backing. The wallpaper came off pretty well, but the backing came off in tiny little strips. Maybe this method would have solved that? In your picture, it looks like the backing stayed behind, however. Thankfully I will never have to find out since I will never wallpaper anything! :D Good hub!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      I've spent many unpleasant hours trying to remove wallpaper - wish I had known about this method as it sounds a lot easier! I'll certainly keep in in mind if I ever have to remove wallpaper again!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      A nice step by step guide. I wrote about using fabric softener to remove wallpaper in my hub August hub "Wallpaper, Love it or Hate it" but not with as much detail as you did. Voted up.