Why you should use hot water to remove wallpaper

Do you have wallpaper in your home or office? Are you ready to remove that wallpaper? Then this blog post is ready for you.

Today, we are talking about wallpaper removal. In the Chicagoland area, there are a lot of homes and business locations that have wallpaper on their walls. If you do a YouTube search, you will find there are many ways people will tell you how to remove wallpaper. When you search for wallpaper removal methods, you will find several ways to remove wallpaper such as:

Wallpaper Removal Tools

  • wallpaper steamer
  • dif wallpaper stripping gel
  • tiger shark wall scoring tool
  • fabric softener
  • other chemicals
  • hot water

From our experience, we have found that the best way to remove wallpaper is with hot water. The paint and home improvement stores have many wallpaper removal solutions and chemical options to remove wallpaper, but today I will go into why you should use hot water to remove wallpaper.

How do you know if it’s time to remove wallpaper?

Here is a quick video showing wallpaper peeling– a little on the extreme side, but I think you get the point. (this site has been like this for over 5 years)

living room wallpaper removal
wallpaper being removed in a living room

Why hot water to remove wallpaper?

Although this may seem simple, it gets lost somehow- hot water cleans better than cold water. When you use the hottest water possible on walls with wallpaper it will cause almost a steam affect to the paper. The paper will “wilt”- get soft, allow the water and moisture to get in the wallpaper, then work in to the wallpaper adhesive which will force the paper to be peeled away from the wall.

Why you should use hot water to remove wallpaper
After the wallpaper has been soaking in hot water for a while, it will just come off the wall

To go a step further you can use some environmentally safe solutions that will actually make water wetter- allowing for the water to actually permeate better! We are a huge fan of Safe and Simple, but since covid it has not been available.

safe and simple wallpaper removal solution
safe and simple wallpaper removal solution

What are the steps to removing wallpaper with water?

Our process of removing wallpaper is pretty straight forward.

  • get a clean bucket, have access to hot water, have access to a toilet to flush down dirt water, have a good sponge that you can get walls wet and clean with
  • make sure that you have a work light in darker rooms
  • be careful when working around traditional light bulbs- water to hot light bulb may cause the bulbs to shatter
  • use a putty knife or a 5 in 1 tool, try to scrape or peel away as much wallpaper as you can- with no water. Wallpaper is typically made in layers. Most residential wallpapers have two layers, the top one will more times than not peel away from the wall. The wallpaper backing, which has the adhesive portion, is what we need to get wet. Commercial wallpaper will usually peel off completely, meaning you can just wash the adhesive from the wall.
  • Anyway- back to the water…place the hottest water you can stand in the bucket.
 bucket of hot water with safe and simple - wallpaper removal tools
our bucket of hot water with safe and simple

Using hot water to remove wallpaper…

If you have sea sponges- they work the best, if not use the ones you see by the ceramic tile supplies, they are the next best option. Clean the sponge, some sponges have dye in them, some still stink from the ocean, others have been in storage and just get dirty.

Once you have your sponge and hot water ready, allow the sponge to soak into the water in order to really get the sponge wet. Then, ring it out so it is damp, not dripping wet.

hot water is critical to wallpaper removal
hot water is critical to wallpaper removal

Apply the water to the wall. Allow to sit for 5- 10 minutes, repeat it twice! After 20-30 minutes the wallpaper should be at a point that it should peel away from the wall with little effort. An easy way to remove wallpaper!

peel wallpaper off after it starts to bubble
after the paper is wet- it will start to bubble, it is ready to peel it off
wallpaper beginning to peel from wall
here is the wallpaper as it is beginning to peel from the wall

Removing wallpaper glue from the walls

Once the wallpaper is removed you will need to wash the glue from the walls. It is very important to remove all the glue; otherwise you will have issues with your paint sticking to the wall and the paint will crackle!!

You will see the walls nice and clean- shiny when wet- no glue!

clean wall after wallpaper removal - remove wallpaper glue
here is a wall that is clean- not residue

Check out this video we did on removing wallpaper glue:

clean walls after wallpaper is removed - removing wallpaper
the wall are nice and clean after wallpaper is removed and cleaned

Removing wallpaper is job that most people hate. If the wallpaper was installed correctly, the wallpaper will be relatively easy to remove. Look at it this way- if you have wallpaper on your walls- do you really want it to just come right off? Wallpaper provides not just a great look and feel, but is also a very effective product to keep walls in good appearance for many years, compared to some annual locations that have to provide annual painting applications.

You can watch a quick video on this we shot for this blog post:

Let us know if this helps with your wallpaper removal project! If you have questions we would love to hear them so we can better help you love the space you’re in!


Add a splash of color and style to your walls. Book your paint and wallpaper appointment today!