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How to Remove Wallpaper Glue

Maybe it’s time to redecorate or get rid of that unsightly wallpaper that’s been lingering in your grandma’s living room. You finally go through the effort of peeling and removing the decades-old paper and, after spending a great deal of energy and time, you’re finally done– right? Not so fast. Before you can start painting or installing new wallpaper, you need to get rid of the wallpaper glue that’s still stuck to the walls. Although it’s a time-consuming process, it’s fairly easy to remove wallpaper glue from walls. Here are some step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to make the task at hand a bit easier.

Tools

  • Plastic Tarps or Drop Cloths
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Hot Water
  • Liquid Dish Soap
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle (optional)
  • Sponges
  • Clean Towels or Rags
  • Wallpaper Scraper or Putty Knife
  • Garbage Bags

1. Prepare the Room

Remove all furniture from the room, or move everything away from the walls and toward the center of the room. Place drop cloths on the floor to protect the floors from water damage and paste residue. Using painter’s tape, cover all electrical outlets, light switches, and vents in the room. As an extra precaution, turn off power to the room.

2. Prepare Cleaning Solution

Combine hot water, a few drops of liquid dish soap, and a tablespoon of baking soda in a bucket and mix well. If the adhesive on the walls is particularly stubborn, add one cup of vinegar for every gallon of water used.

*Tip: Transfer the cleaning solution into a spray bottle as an alternative to a sponge and bucket. A spray bottle is particularly useful for hard-to-reach areas.

3. Soften the Wallpaper Glue

Wearing rubber gloves, soak a sponge in the cleaning solution. Rub the solution onto a section of the wall and let it sit for a few moments. You should notice that the solution has reactivated and softened the adhesive. Wipe the wallpaper glue residue with a clean towel or rag.

*Tip: Don’t soak the entire wall. It’s best to work in small sections so you can remove the wallpaper glue while it is soft.

4. Scrape the Glue Off

Once you’ve removed most of the softened wallpaper glue, take a wallpaper scraper or putty knife and scrape away the adhesive. It’s particularly useful for any persistent sections. Try to get every last bit of wallpaper glue off the walls, as even just a tiny bit leftover on the walls can raise challenges for a future paint job. Dispose of paste residue in garbage bags.

Continue steps 3 and 4 until you’ve thoroughly removed the wallpaper glue from all affected walls.

5. Remove the Cleaning Solution

Once the wallpaper glue has been removed, take a clean, damp rag and wipe off the cleaning solution from the walls. Dry the walls with clean towel or rag.

6. Clean Up the Room

Allow the room to air out and the walls to completely dry. The walls should feel smooth; however, if you feel any rough or sticky spots, repeat the removal process on these areas.

If you have remaining energy, proceed with painting the room. If not, remove the painter’s tape and dropcloths, move all the furniture back into the room, and pat yourself on the back. You successfully removed wallpaper glue and lived to tell the tale!

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