Basic wallpaper care and maintenance

Knowing the wallpaper type in your home is essential in choosing the right method of cleaning and maintenance.  PHOTOs/dan gold/

What you need to know:

Wallpaper is a versatile material for covering your walls. Since it comes in many colours and designs, it will give you plenty of options. It also requires dedicated care to maintain.

Wallpaper works wonders for anyone that needs to change the aesthetics of their space without spending too much. This could be an office, kitchen or living room. The cherry on the cake is that owing to the variety in which they come, you can never run out of ideas. However, to maintain the spark they lend to our spaces, care and maintenance is important so they can serve for longer.

Irene Mirembe, an interior designer, says basic care will give your wallpaper a new lease to life. “Carrying out maintenance on your wall paper once or twice a month will enable it to look fresh and bright. However, many will only remember to see to their paper annually or when children make a tear yet it attracts lots of dirt and dust,” she shares. However, the work can get a little intense if you have young children.

Knowing the type

That said, even before you delve into cleaning, it is important to understand that there are different wallpaper types as that determines the method of cleaning you will use. “Understanding the wallpaper type in your home is very important when choosing a cleaning method so that rather than waste it, you get it sparkling,” Mirembe advises, “For example, precaution is needed when cleaning fabric-based wallpaper while paper-based wallpaper should not be cleaned using water.” She adds that wallpaper, more so the simple paper-based type can be cleaned using a dry soft cloth as a rough cloth will scratch the paper, leaving it mutilated.


Ideal cleaners to use

If your wallpaper type is agreeable to water, then cleansers may come in handy. “Mix a small amount of dish washing soap; five tablespoons into half a basin of water to create a cleaner. However, using lots of cleaners is not good as they take the shine off the paper,” Ian Katerega, an interior designer, shares.

As you clean, ensure that you use a plain cloth to avoid staining your wallpaper with colours that would run  from non colourfast cloth. “One should also avoid using scouring pads because they are rough. If you cannot get a soft cloth, then a sponge will do the job,” Katerega advises.

Despite your wallpaper allowing for use of water, Katerega says you need not use lots of water lest it weakens the glue. “Ensure that you squeeze the cloth or sponge so that it is not so wet. It also helps to test your cleaning mixture on a small portion of the paper to prevent creating a bigger mess when you apply it wholesomely. In that case, testing at the place closer to the skirting is better because it is not so open to the public,” he advises. If all is well, then cleaning can start.

Claire Magezi, a housekeeper says cleaning should happen from top to bottom. “That way, you avoid messing up where you have already cleaned. It also helps to clean in circular motion so you do not miss any point as well as clean towards the vertical creases,” she advises.

Rinse and dry the wallpaper

After the first wash, it is imperative that you rinse the wallpaper to rid it of any stains and dirt. “With the second wash, you will need another round of water. You also need to rinse the cloth/sponge to avoid transfer of dirt,” Magezi says.

Thereafter, use a thick towel to dry the surface. “The towel should be plain to avoid staining the wall. The towel must be thick to take any excess water from the paper,” Magezi advises.


Using a vacuum cleaner

There is also need to dust to keep your wallpaper clean. One of the best ways is using a vacuum cleaner. “Connect a wallpaper brush to the cleaner to remove the dust. However, if the wallpaper goes beyond your reach, you will need to use a ladder to clean effectively,” Katerega shares. He adds that with this, you will avoid scratching the paper with rough cloths and all wallpaper types are agreeable to the method.

Dusting cloth

Where you do not have a vacuum cleaner, a dusting cloth will come in handy. For high walls, Katerega advises that one use a ladder to reach the high points. “Start dusting from top to bottom so that you do not mess up where you have already cleaned. Beginning from corners is also crucial as these trap lots of dust that you need to do away with before tackling other places,” he advises.

He adds that changing dusting cloths is important so you do not smear dirt  but rather clean the wall.

Stain removal

In some cases, you will need to do emergency cleaning; removing stains. Here are some cleaning methods to use:

Cleaning grease

One method is placing a paper towel over the grease stain and applying low heat using a low temperature iron. Katerega says that will melt the grease causing it to fill the paper towel ridding the wall of the stain.

Another method is to pour face powder on the paper towel then place it on the grease. “Let it sit for 10 minutes and remove then clean off the powder using a dry sponge or brush,” he shares.

Cleaning fingerprints

To remove fingerprints, add a squat of dishwashing soap to warm water and softly rub the wall.

However, as you clean, you must avoid using bleach and grating cleaners, as these will destroy the wallpaper print. “That said, if you have children clean regularly (weekly basis) to avoid permanently staining the paper,” Mirembe advises.

Using a floor brush

If using just a cloth is not bearing good fruit, you may try doubling it with a floor brush. “The brush must have soft bristles to avoid creating damage as you swipe it from left to right. The beauty of this technique is that one can reach dirty corners with ease,” Katerega says. He adds that just like the other dusting methods; you will dust from top to bottom, carefully covering every bit of the wall.