Asked on Sep 13, 2012

How do I get rid of wallpaper adhesive residue??

We recently moved into an older home and the first thing to go was the wallpaper in the living/dining room. The kids and I got it off pretty quickly with water...Now there is the sticky gluey residue! I really want to paint this room and get it put together, but I don't know how to clean the walls!
I tried TSP on a couple walls, but didn't like how that worked, so I bought some M-1 Wallpaper remover and that's not working either. Both were great for removing any bits of wallpaper that were left, but neither work on the glue.
Got any miracle cleaners I can try?!
The kids ripping down the wallpaper.
  23 answers
  • First mistake is that you peeled the face off of the paper way to fast.. So here is how you do it now that you removed the surface part that peeled off. You need to put down lots of towels and drop cloths as it will be a bit messy and very wet. Then using a garden sprayer put some wall paper adhesive remover such as Diff or the M-1 although not familiar with that product. I assume it is the same. in the sprayer with almost boiling hot water. Then spray the wall. Let sit, spray again. let sit, spray. Using a plastic, not metal putty knife begin to scrape the softened glue off of the surface of the wall. It is not going to be easy, but it will be time consuming. had you only removed one or two sheets of paper, I would suggest that you use cheese cloth soaked in the removal chemical and place it on the wall. All in all what you need to do is keep the surface wet enough and long enough to soften the surface exposed glue. The reason for the plastic putty knife and not metal, it will be much more forgiving to the surface under the glue then the metal knife will be. Once you have removed a section around four square feet. Use a clean sponge soaked in the removal chemical and scrub any residue left behind. Rinse the sponge often and eventually just use plain clean water. Let dry. The trick when removing paper is once the paper is ready to come off, just pull one section at a time then clean carefully that area while the adhesive is still soft. Once it dries you end up with what your dealing with now. It will take some elbow grease to get the glue adhesive off of the walls surface.
  • Home Repair Tutor Home Repair Tutor on Sep 13, 2012
    Greati great tips as usual Woodbridge!
  • Carol S Carol S on Sep 13, 2012
    When we did our wallpaper, we used sponge mops and vinegar and hot water solution. Woodridge is right the paper and backing peel off easier if left in tack. Even when you do it right - glue is still on the walls. It takes alot of scrubbing -I use those plastic mesh kitchen scrubber on the tough spot. Make sure you get it all before you paint -- I see you have a help - so the tedious task will be fun ---
  • What ends op making it so hard is the glue drying before you get it off of the walls. Way to many people just love to peel the paper off all at once, forgetting that a lot of glue is left behind. By just peeling one sheet at a time and keeping the rest on the wall and wet. The whole job would only take one day or two tops to complete and be ready for paint. The trick now is to keep what is left on the wall wet enough so it will soften and can be scrapped off and washed clean. Good luck on the project and keep us posted on the final results.
  • Acorn Ponds & Waterfalls Acorn Ponds & Waterfalls on Sep 14, 2012
    A wallpaper removal party! Mike and Monica that does not look like fun. The las time I scraped wallpaper I had vinegar and water dripping down my arms all day from sponging it on the walls. I like the idea of Carol's to use sponge mops. I hope I never have to do it again.
  • Mike and Monica R Mike and Monica R on Sep 14, 2012
    Woodbridge, thank you so much! This was my first time ever removing wallpaper...I should have come HERE before I did it! :) I'm going away for the weekend, but those walls will still be here when I get back. :( I'm so glad this is the only room in the house that had wallpaper, but I am NOT looking forward to this!!! We got the paper off before our furniture arrived, but now the room is full of furniture...what a mess it's going to be! Acorn, maybe we SHOULD have a party! I'll let you know how it turns out.
  • Becky H Becky H on Sep 14, 2012
    No one envies your challenge!! I think almost all of us have had this lovely experience at some time or other, and perhaps is the very reason so many prefer paint and stencils these days. Good luck! and be sure to post pictures of your experiences and end product.
  • I had the wallpaper removal job from you-know-where and what saved my sanity was a product called "Safe and Simple." It's what folks who remove wallpaper for a living, use. It's amazing! I'll never remove paper without it again. You can see it in this post: I didn't have that much residue left behind...I guess the Safe and Simple took most of it off. What I did have left, I sanded off the walls with one of those thick sanding type pads from the hardware store. If you do any sanding, be sure to wear a good mask. It's not safe to breathe that stuff in. Good luck!
  • CeeJai CeeJai on Sep 15, 2012
    I use liguid fabric softener in a spray bottle of hot water cheaper than DIF, which I tried and didn't like too messy. You do have to let the solution sit and soak in before removing the paper while still damp.
  • The primary reason why some things work and some do not is the wetting power each product selected has. The trick to doing any wall paper removal is to keep the surface wet. The longer the better. Any product that tends to stay on the wall without dripping and allows the adhesive to soften works well. You could even use plain water and it will work, only you would need to keep spraying it as water does not stay on the wall long enough to soften the adhesive. What these products accomplish is they tend to stick and not run as fast allowing the wetting action to take place. That is why leaving the paper on the wall and allowing the liquid to soak through the holes you would place on the surface allows the moisture to soften the glue. Once you remove the surface paper there is nothing left to hold or absorb the moisture and even when it can it evaporates really fast. For this very reason the trick to removal is to go slow. Take one section down at a time and clean up the glue. Doing it in this fashion allows you enough time to scrape and clean what is already soft. If you take to much down at a time it begins to dry before you can remove the adhesive, resulting in having to spend hours removing it once it drys again. Heck you can use Jello to remove paper. Although I would not try it. As long as the product sticks to the surface and has a wetting action as a result. You can get the stuff off. Quite often when I have a area that is really bad, I take cheese cloth and wet it. Then stick it to the wall to act like the paper was still there. After a short while I remove the cloth and simply scrub and lightly scrape the wall clean.
  • Shari Shari on Sep 15, 2012
    Oh man, I've "been there-done that" so I feel your pain and frustration! If the other suggestions/products don't work, I think a wallpaper steamer would soften the glue residue and then you could use a putty knife to scrape it off once it has softened. Maybe someone you know has one you can borrow. If not, you should be able to rent one for a nominal fee, or a basic model is around $50 at Lowes or HD--which would be money well spent, in my opinion.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Sep 16, 2012
    One thing is for sure, once you get this mess cleaned up, you will never put up wallpaper again! Good luck!
  • Jeanette, you would be surprised. Wallpaper is making a big comeback. The newer adhesives, patterns, and materials make this a great choice that even the first time do it your self person can do in just a short weekend. It is not like the stuff that was sold in the 60's.
  • Becky H Becky H on Sep 16, 2012
    Woodbridge, is it the same stuff that was sold in the 80's? Because that was a pain in the butt too.
  • I think so Becky, But newer products introduced now and proper methods of Sizing the walls have allowed for a much easier install and removal. Personally I would never use wall paper of any kind. The adhesives used are an excellent food source for mold development. I cannot tell you how many times we had to remove this stuff because of mold development behind the finished paper. This is one reason I have a bit of experience of wall paper removal.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Sep 17, 2012
    Woodbridge, thanks for the information but NOTHING can convince me to go down that road again...NOTHING! HA! I have been in this house for over 40 years so you know I have been through a lot of "in" looks! From now on it is just plain old paint that can easily be changed. I am done with the "oh that is so in" things! HA! And it turned out that the "small area for accent" turned out to be one of the worse removal/repair jobs ever!
  • Cheryl Cheryl on Jul 14, 2013
    Spray bottle of hot water, and a little dawn dishwashing liquid.. Spray on wallpaper, and let it sit for 20 minutes.. It will come right off... Have used this method for years...
  • Building Moxie Building Moxie on Jul 29, 2013
    I just got a reader question on this ... and these are super tips/info esp. from @Woodbridge Environmental - on the topic of w/p I really have been taken by some of the patterns and styles I have seen recently, other options include temporary paper and of course a more evolved market of stenciling patterns - paint on the paper. cheers all.
  • Stephanie G Stephanie G on Mar 29, 2015
    Ok, I did the same thing....I got the wallpaper off with fabric worked great, BUT.......there is still a residue of adhesive do I get the adhesive off without tearing up the sheetrock? I want to texture and paint, butI am afraid the left over adhesive will shine through.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Nov 20, 2015
    Brand new product out there. It is called hot water or steam. Only way you will get glue off is to melt it and wipe. You will need a good prep/primer before painting.
  • Beverly Beamon Beverly Beamon on Jun 22, 2016
    Yelp. Hot water and a good sponge, a flat wide blade knife to help removal of glue. Be careful to not gouge wall then you will have to patch. Wipe use wide blade knife just to help remove the glue, and re wipe. This may take a while depending on how big your room is. Or you can sand the walls down if they are flat. I do not really recommend this because of the dust factor, but if you have no furniture in there go for it. Now only use a fine sand paper and an orbital hand sander. Just go over walls lightly do not sand through drywall. Hope this is helpful. B Beamon of Suffolk, VA
  • Anita Elaine Anita Elaine on Jul 04, 2016
    CAUTION: Wear a mask when removing wallpaper. The adhesives generally have insecticide in them. The older the paper, the more likely the insecticide is a major poison. Be wise, wear protection. Rinse your rubber gloves often also. Dispose of all residue carefully and WASH OUT the trash cans! Poison is poison, in the 30 and 40s when wallpaper was most popular, DDT was sprayed in our communities and laced into wallpaper.
  • Linda Linda on Jun 08, 2018

    Buying a wallpaper steamer saved the day! There are small ones that are easy to handle. It will take off both layers of paper and a lot of the glue, while you scrape with plastic putty knife. A solution is needed to scour the walls to remove the remaining glue. Sooo much better than removers and less mess!