How to Use Downy to Remove Wallpaper Easily

When applied to wallpaper, fabric softener softens both the paper and the glue used to hold it on the wall. This makes the wallpaper come off much more easily than it normally would and can save you time when redecorating. To remove unwanted wallpaper, soak it in a mixture of water and fabric softener for 20 minutes and then scrape it away with a wide-bladed paint scraper. You may have to soak and scrape each area several times to remove every bit of the old paper and the glue. If you don't get all of the old glue off, it will show when you repaint or repaper the wall, marring your new home decor.

Use a scraper to remove softened wallpaper.
credit: Gary Ombler/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images
A fabric softener can soften wallpaper to make it easier to remove.

Step 1 Peel by Hand

Peel off all the wallpaper by hand that you can. Old wallpaper sometimes starts to lift on its own at the seams and in corners. If the wallpaper is already lifting on some places on the wall, pull it away from the wall and discard. The more you can peel off the less scraping you'll have to do.

Step 2 Score the Paper

Score the wallpaper with a specific tool made for that purpose or a wire brush. These tools put small holes in the paper, making it easier for the fabric softener and water to penetrate.

Step 3 Mix the Fabric Softener

Pour 1 capful of fabric softener into a 1-quart spray bottle and mix thoroughly. Saturate a 2-by-2-foot section of the wallpaper with the spray bottle. Thoroughly soak the wallpaper to ensure it softens; expect water drips running down the wall. You can catch these with a towel or let them drip onto your plastic. Let the mixture sit on the wall for up to 20 minutes.

Step 4 Scrape Away the Paper

Scrape off the soaked wallpaper using a paint scraper. Hold the scraper at a 45-degree angle and start at the bottom of wall and work work your way up. Remove all of the glue and the wallpaper or you risk leaving an uneven surface behind. This job takes a bit of effort, so don't be afraid to put your back into it.

Step 5 Wash the Wall

Wipe the walls down with a sponge dipped in hot water to remove any remaining wallpaper glue or fabric softener. Repeat as often as necessary to remove the wallpaper and its glue.

Step 6 Let the Wall Dry

Let the wall completely dry. This may take from 24 to 48 hours for it to thoroughly dry based on the home's interior humidity. To hasten drying, set up fans to dry the wall, if needed, or open up the windows when the weather is warm.

Step 7 Patch and Sand

Inspect your walls. Look for nicks in the surface and fill them with joint compound and sand them before repainting or wallpapering after the compound has dried completely -- generally about an hour or two. Remove hardened glue residue or remaining wallpaper tags by sanding with a 120-grit sandpaper. Wallpaper removal sometimes pulls small pieces of drywall and plaster off with the paper.

Step 8 Clean Up

Wipe down the walls with a damp cloth to remove any sanding dust. Wrap up the plastic on the floor, folding the corners and outside edges in toward the center of the room as you work. Wrap up the plastic and throw it away in a large garbage bag for disposal. This will get rid of the old wallpaper pieces and sanding dust all at one time.

Step 9 Decorate the Wall

Plan how you want to decorate the wall now that all the sandpaper has been removed. You may choose to cover it with fabric, paint it or cover it with reclaimed wood. When redoing the wall, keep in mind your color and decor scheme for the room itself and the rest of the house to ensure whatever changes you make to it blend in seamlessly with the rest of the house.