What does vinegar have to do with wallpaper?

What does Vinegar have to do with Wallpaper?

20150416_142302Here is a super easy DIY on wallpaper removal. Thankfully it will even work with reallllly old wallpaper.


When we bought our “starter home” the kitchen was covered in red wallpaper top to bottom!!! As if red is not bad enough, it had the pattern of a bandana. It was like a wildwest robbery gone bad all over my kitchen! We spent hours with vinegar, rags, and scrapers but we finally got it all down! When we finished we had plain walls that were no longer reminiscent of Calamity Jane’s breakfast nook.

Of course I immediately covered the walls back up with wallpaper, slow learner, I know : )

stars and berries black 2

If you have fully wallpapered walls or just a wallpaper border this approach works perfectly. Obviously the newer the wallpaper the easier it will be to get off. New wallpapers remove like magic compared to the 1950’s crap we had to take down.



WARNING: Patience is important when removing wallpaper so needless to say I kinda suck at this. However if I can get through it, so can you!



Cheap vinegar

We use it for everything so we always have it on hand by the gallon


Something absorbent like old bath towels


Big enough to be able to dip your towel into and wring it out without slopping all over, I typically just use a dish pan


Plastic spackle knives work great, better than metal

Old credit cards

Plastic turners from the kitchen will work if they have a straight front edge

No beer this time

The Husband was at work : )




Here is an example of my impatience. It’s just dumb to just start peeling at it, it doesn’t save any time, it actually takes longer than giving in and doing the right way.

wallpaper 1 Wallpaper removal is a very forgiving task; you can pick away at it a little at a time or tackle the whole thing at once so no worries.

Vinegar is the key because it softens the glue/adhesive on the old wallpaper.

Step 1:

Mix warm water and white vinegar half and half. 2 cups of each is enough for a bathroom border, you can always make more.

*I use warm water so my hands don’t freeze, it really makes no difference.


Step 2:

If you can peel back some corners of your wall paper at the topside it is a huge help; only20150416_142344 peel it up if you can get all the layers of the paper up at once. This makes a good spot for your vinegar and water mixture to start working it’s way down behind the wallpaper.


Step 3:

You need to start soaking the wallpaper to be removed, just dip your rag in your water/vinegar mix and half wring it out. Wipe the mixture all over the wallpaper. The vinegar/water will start to soak through the paper and into the seams.  Let this sit for 5 minutes, come back and wipe down again.

Leave the wallpaper wet but not dripping.

Sometimes you may notice the wallpaper starting to turn colors, this all depends on the type and color of the wallpaper.


Step 4:


Another example of my inability to grow up and just wait : )

Here is the fun part, START PEELING! Hey, slow down! Don’t go all Ziggity Boo on me! I know, I know but trust me. If you start peeling without letting it soak this is what happens:


This is a clear picture of wallpaper that is not wet enough to remove

Take your time! If it is peeling up well it’s ready so go for it, otherwise go slowly. When pulling it off, try to get the entire piece of wallpaper at once; meaning the depth of the paper not the length. If you find it is not all coming up, just a portion of the layers, wet your paper again and let it soak for several minutes.

You may have to go back and forth between pealing and scraping for older wallpaper, be sure to always keep your wallpaper soaked.

*If you do have to scrape take care not to dig too deep into your wall beneath!!!


If you wait to let the vinegar water soak through the paper and adhesive the wallpaper will peal right off!

Sometimes you will not be able to get the entire piece of the wallpaper off, it will leave a film of paper backing. Use the same approach; soak, wait, peel, scrape, repeat. Let the vinegar do the work, eventually it will break down all of the wallpaper adhesive.

Step 5:


The right side of this picture shows the film that will remain after the wallpaper is removed.

Once you get all of the wallpaper off your wall, there will most likely be a film of glue on your wall. Use your vinegar water and start washing down the wall.

*You may need a fresh batch of vinegar water for this step if your original water is full of adhesive.

That’s it! Super simple!

~Please be sure to let us know if you have any questions. Leave a comment, we love to help~


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