Whether from messy kids or guests, or a little bit of cooking, fingerprints and other scuff marks on wallpaper are pretty much unavoidable. The good news is, though, that they can also be easy to remove with a bit of elbow grease. A magic eraser might seem like a miracle tool for cleaning up these kinds of stains, but how do they work?
If you have washable wallpaper, there’s a very good chance that mild soap and water will be enough to get rid of most stains. In fact, the label on your wall paper will tell you if it can handle a light wash or not. If you’re unsure, or if the label has fallen off (we know, we’ve all been there), you can always contact the manufacturer to ask more specific questions about what kind of cleaners and washing methods are safe.
If your wallpaper is not washable, you can still clean it with some simple products that are safe for the material. Mild soap and water should do the trick on most non-washable wallpaper, but you’ll need to test it on a small patch of your wall before using any cleaning solution to make sure that it doesn’t damage or discolor it.
You can also use a sponge dipped in white vinegar to lift oily smudges on wallpaper. However, it’s important to rinse the sponge thoroughly afterward to remove any mold or mildew that might have clung to it during the cleaning process. You can do this by squeezing it to drain any excess moisture, and then rinsing it with warm water. It’s best to do this over a sink or bucket to avoid getting any water on your flooring or other surfaces that might need to dry.
Another great way to lift greasy stains on wallpaper is to use rubbing alcohol. It’s a very safe and effective method for removing grease from most wallpapers, but it’s especially good on vinyl and acrylic surfaces.
If you’re not comfortable using rubbing alcohol, there is a simpler way to remove oily smudges from wallpaper: with a bit of toothpaste. A dab of white toothpaste will do the trick, but make sure that it’s not gel-based. Gel toothpaste can actually be abrasive, and it will cause your wallpaper to scratch or peel.
You can buy Magic Erasers at most grocery and drug stores, but they are surprisingly inexpensive to make yourself. All you need is melamine foam, which can be purchased in bulk for pennies. The foam is slightly abrasive, but not nearly as abrasive as something like a nail file or a toothbrush. Wired notes that melamine foam is often used for audio dampening or insulation, but you can find it in many other places too, usually under the name “mouse pads.” To create your own magic eraser, simply soak the pad with water and then rub away any dirt and marks that are on your walls. Be sure to rinse and wring out your sponge after each use, and allow it to air dry completely. This will help keep it from growing mold or mildew, which can be very dangerous for your health.