Awesome Autumn Maintenance Part 2

Scrubbable, Fabric, Textile, and Non-Washable Wallcoverings

Last month, we talked about the vital role cleaning plays in keeping your wallpaper like new.  We went over the few simple steps that go a long way towards protecting your investment, with particular emphasis on “washable” wallpapers.

But what if your wallcovering is not labeled “washable”, but “scrubbable”? What’s up with that? Scrubbable wallcoverings are made of vinyl or vinyl-impregnated paper.  Because of this, scrubbable papers stand up to more in the cleaning process. (For this reason, vinyl papers are most practical in rooms that get a lot of use.) Be this as it may, it is still not advisable to use any abrasive liquid cleaners, scouring powders, or harsh abrasive brushes or other cleaning tools. Any of these could scratch the vinyl finish and then it’s: bye, bye, pretty paper.

So what can you use?

Scrubbable wallpapers are best cleaned with a foam cleanser or all-purpose detergent. You may apply one of these cleansers with a soft cloth or sponge. Then follow it with a clean rinsing sponge or cloth.

Use a foam cleanser like so:

  1. Hold the can around 8 inches from the surface. Spray a four-foot square area.
  2. Use a clean, damp sponge to wipe off foam and wall filth.
  3. Wipe area again with a soap-free rinsing sponge.
  4. Then, gently pat the area dry with a clean towel.

Ok, good. We’ve now covered how to deal with cleaning your “washable” and “scrubbable” wallcoverings. Pretty easy, really…

But what if you don’t have such an easy paper to deal with? What if your wallcovering is fabric or textile?     If you’re facing a stain emergency on a fabric like burlap or grass cloth, your best bet is to first find an inconspicuous spot where you can test gently wiping it with a suds and water-dampened sponge. By this test, you can find out whether water is going to stain the covering.

However, regardless of whether you’re facing a stain or regular cleaning, your first step should always be checking the directions that were provided to you by the manufacturer. Failing that, you may wish to consult a dealer to find out what cleaning method he or she recommends for your type of covering.

As for routine maintenance, dusting with a clean cloth from time to time or vacuuming to remove loose dirt and lint can go a long way.

If you’ve been given the A-OK on washing spots, choose a sponge or soft bristle brush soaked in soap solution or mild detergent. Don’t forget to rinse well. If you’re trying to deal with an incredibly stubborn spot, add two or three tbs of bleach. (Use non-chlorine bleach for delicate fabrics.) Rinse with plenty of water and pat dry with an absorbent towel to avoid streaking.

And finally, if you’re facing a “non-washable” paper, you will need to purchase a commercial wallpaper cleaner. This takes the form of a putty-like substance that you rub over the surface of the paper. For this process, you will need to follow the product’s instructions to the letter. Vacuum or brush off any excess bits of cleaner that remain stuck to the wall. And, as with any of the different types of wallcovering, be sure to test the cleaner in a place not usually seen – behind the couch? – before you begin. This allows you to assess how the paper reacts with the cleaner and whether you’re going to wind up with streaks. Nobody likes streaks.

These simple steps are your best defense when it comes to preserving more intricate types of wallcoverings. Stay tuned next month for more maintenance tips!