How to Remove Wallpaper Without a Steamer: The Tried and Tested Methods for Success

Whether you’re trying to restore your walls to a smooth surface for painting, or you simply want to remove old wallpaper that’s been hanging for a little too long, giving your rooms a revamp can be exciting. While wallpaper steamers can be a handy tool to use, there are plenty of tried and tested methods that work just as well without using a steamer. From fabric softener to simple scraping tools, we’ve got all of your wallpaper removal needs solved with our step-by-step guide.

The tools and materials you’ll need

Before you begin your wallpaper removal process, you’ll have to gather the necessary tools and materials you’ll need. Depending on the method that you’ve opted for, you might not need all of this equipment.


• Putty knife or paint scraper

• Spray bottle

• Sponge

• Soapy water

• Scissors

• Bucket

• Ladder


• Plastic sheets

• Masking tape

• Rubber gloves

• Fabric softener

• Vinegar

How to determine the type of wallpaper on your wall

If your walls are already plastered with wallpaper, depending on the type, you’ll have to remove it in different ways. To determine the type of wallpaper that you’re working with, use a scraper or putty knife to loosen a corner of the paper and then try to peel it off.

Strippable wallpaper — If the wallpaper peels right off, you’ll more than likely be working with strippable paper.

Peelable wallpaper — If the paper peels but leaves backing, then this will be peelable wallpaper. This type of wallpaper is usually a little trickier to remove.

Traditional wallpaper — If the wallpaper doesn’t seem to budge, you’ll more than likely be working with traditional wallpaper. This is typically removed with a chemical stripper.

How to prepare the room for wallpaper removal

Before you can begin to remove the wallpaper from your walls, you’ll have to make sure that all other surfaces in the room are protected from any; chemicals, water, dust or soap that might be brought up in the process.

Move furniture out of the way

First, you’ll have to move any furniture out of the room as it’s going to get messy! If it’s not possible to move furniture out of the room, then move it away from the walls into the center of the room. Make sure it’s covered with a protective plastic sheet to avoid it getting wet or harbouring any dust that may fall.

Protect the floor

To protect the floor from getting stained with chemicals, collecting dust, or just getting wet, make sure that all floors and skirting boards are covered with plastic sheets. Once you’ve done this, securely fix it in place with masking tape and test that the sheet doesn’t pull or move when stepped on. If it does, simply add more masking tape until it’s sturdy to stand on.

Take everything off the walls and ceilings

Make sure that everything is off the walls including vents. If you find any openings, cover them with masking tape plastic sheets to avoid any mishaps. If possible, turn off electricity in all the rooms and remove any of the faceplates to any sockets or switches. This allows you to easily remove any paper that’s stuck behind them. If you can’t do this, make sure that electric sockets are covered thoroughly to prevent any moisture from seeping into the electrics.

How to remove wallpaper without a steamer

The dry strip method

1. Test the wallpaper

Gently insert a thin putty knife under the wallpaper seam to test if the paper comes off the wall without being wet down. Using both hands, slowly pull the wallpaper toward you. Tip: Don’t pull the wallpaper perpendicular to the wall as this can damage the surface.

2. Strip the paper

Continue to strip the paper away and make sure not to pull too much so that it comes away from the backing. Working section by section, it’s best to go from top to bottom.

3. When to stop

If you find that the paper shreds and tears as you’re trying to remove it, it’s best to stop this method as it’s causing more harm than good. Instead, try a wallpaper gel stripper.

The gel stripper method

1. Roughen the surface

If you’re struggling to remove that stubborn paper, chances are it needs something a little stronger to penetrate through to its adhesive. Roughen the surface of the wallpaper with a scoring tool, making sure to move in a criss-cross pattern. A scoring tool makes small tears in the paper that allow chemicals or water to soften the paste. Tip: Avoid pressing down too hard with the scoring tool as you may damage the wall.

2. Apply the gel stripper and remove

Working in small sections of around three feet by three feet (around 1 by 1 meter), apply the solution to the wall and let it soak for around 20 – 30 minutes. Insert the putty knife under the seam of the paper and remove the loosened paper with your other hand. As you’re removing the paper from one section, you can go ahead and coat the next section so the gel starts to soak.

3. Apply another coat

If you find that the paper is a little stubborn to remove, apply another layer of gel and allow it to soak again. Make sure not to gouge with the puffy knife while you remove the paper as the gel can make the wall somewhat soft and more prone to damage.

The fabric softener method

1. Mix the softer and water solution

Removing wallpaper with fabric softener is one of the easiest methods that you can use! To do this, mix one-part softener with one part water in a spray bottle.

2. Spray the wall and score

Spray the softener onto the wall and let it soak for around about 15 minutes. Use a scoring tool to make small tears in the paper which will allow the softener to penetrate the wallpaper easily.

3. Scrape off

Once the softener has worked its magic, it’s time to scrape the wallpaper off. Using your scraping tool, get underneath the paper and work in a downward motion to remove the paper — be sure that you’re also scraping off the glue underneath! If that stubborn glue just won’t move, check out our guide to removing wallpaper glue.

How to make your own wallpaper removal solution

Making your own wallpaper removal solution is a lot easier than you’d think. All you need is a simple ingredient that you already have lying around the house – white vinegar.

1. Mix the ingredients

Measure equal parts white vinegar and warm water and carefully mix with a spoon. Pour the solution into a mixing bottle and attach the pump to the top.

2. Apply the remover

Similarly to the fabric softener method, lightly mist the wallpaper with the homemade remover — taking care not to spray onto adjacent walls. Once an area of the wallpaper is saturated, the solution will begin to drip down the walls. Use a sponge to distribute the solution, allowing it to work into the wallpaper. Leave the solution to soak for around 5 minutes, and then you can begin to scrape the wallpaper off. Tip: Make sure that the solution is applied warm to be effective.

How to remove different types of textured wallpaper without a steamer

Removing different types of textured wallpaper is simple and easy — if you know how to do it correctly. Although there’s a wide range of solutions and methods that you can use, we’ve broken it down in our simple step-by-step guide to removing wallpaper.

How to remove wallpaper with a steamer

For stubborn, textured wallpaper that won’t budge, a wallpaper steamer will be your new best friend. Learn how to remove wallpaper with a steamer with our handy guide.

How to remove wallpaper glue

Wallpaper adhesive can be tricky to remove, but it doesn’t have to be. Our guide to removing wallpaper glue will walk you through all the tips and tricks you’ll need.


Can a wallpaper steamer damage your walls?

Essentially, yes: a wallpaper steamer can damage your walls. Too much moisture will cause your walls to soften and damage easily. That’s why you need to be careful once you’ve used the steamer and are scraping any remaining wallpaper or adhesive off the wall — you don’t want to cause any gouges!

Can you remove wallpaper and reuse it?

Most wallpaper using peel and stick or past for installation are meant to be used once. After that, it’s simply removed and then discarded.

What tools do you need to remove stubborn wallpaper?

Depending on the type of wallpaper you’re trying to remove you’ll need some pretty basic tools like a; scoring tool, paint scraper and your hands! Possibly a ladder for those hard to reach places.

Is it better to paint over wallpaper or remove it?

Removing the wallpaper before you paint is the best way to make sure that your paint is long-lasting. As wallpaper is applied to the wall in rows, painting over it makes the seams of the paper appear a lot more visible.

How long does it take to strip wallpaper?

There are lots of factors that come into play when stripping wallpaper such as the age of the wallpaper, the type and texture of the paper you’re stripping and the condition of the wall underneath. Because of this, it’s hard to give a generalised time to how long it can take to strip wallpaper but it usually takes around about a day.

And now you know how to remove wallpaper without a steamer

Although it can seem like a challenge, removing wallpaper without a steamer doesn’t have to be. With our handy guide, you can put your newfound knowledge to the test; whether it’s using white vinegar or fabric softener. If you need some more inspiration, why not check out our wide range of wallpaper and murals to give your room a well deserved upgrade? Or, if you’re looking for some more helpful suggestions, head over to our how-to guides to help you with your next interior project.

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