How to Remove a Water Stain from Wallpaper

A piece of paper damaged with a water stain.
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20
What You'll Need
A quality large pencil eraser
Dishwashing soap
Bleaching detergent such as OxiClean
Spray bottle
Clean cloth
Distilled water
Clean sponge

A water stain on paper can be an eyesore. What’s even worse is that it is difficult to remove. So, when your wallpaper gets a water stain, you are faced with two options—either cover the water stain with a picture or a poster, or try to remove it. You can always replace your wallpaper, but that is an expensive and tedious process. Read on for advice on how to get rid of even the most stubborn water stain.

Step 1 - Identify What Is in the Stain

Water itself is a colorless liquid that does not stain paper. It is the impurities that are dissolved in water that leave a stain, so when you look at it, you are actually looking at the sediment in the liquid that has adhered to the paper fibers. These impurities cause different stains that require different methods of removal.

Finding the source of the water is the best way to determine the stain you're dealing with. The main variation you need to look out for is whether or not the fluid contains any kind of grease, oil, or tannin.

Step 2 - Erase Water Stains

If the water stain does not have a greasy component, the simplest way to remove it is by using a pencil eraser. Buy a large, good quality eraser, preferably a white, soft eraser that will not stain, or tear your wallpaper. Then, simply rub the eraser over the water stain. If you see the outline becoming fainter, keep at it until it is gone. The eraser is removing the bits of paper fiber that have the impurities stuck to it. If the stain is not coming off, stop and move to step three.

Step 3 - Use Soap and Water on Greasy Water Stains

Water stains in the kitchen or dining room are mostly caused by grease or oil, and those created by to wet hands will also invariably have some grease or grime in them, especially if they have been caused by children rushing back from the playground with dirty hands. These stains cannot be cleaned with an eraser. Instead, prepare a mild solution of dishwashing liquid in water. You can also mix some bleaching detergent into it if you need. Fill a spray bottle with this solution and spritz some of it onto the stain. Afterward, just wipe away the liquid with a clean cloth.

Step 4 - Try Bleach and Distilled Water for Tannin

Sometimes, tannin from wooden walls or frames seeps through into the wallpaper, leaving a stain. This is most common in damp old houses that use wood extensively. To get rid of tannin stains, you need to use a solution of bleach in water, with the ratio of bleach being at about 15 to 30 percent. Also, keep a spray bottle of distilled water handy. Then, start by dabbing a sponge into the bleach solution and dampening the water stain with it. After five minutes or so, spray some distilled water on the area and wipe off the water stain with a clean cloth.

These methods should prove effective if used correctly. However, if you're still having trouble removing your water stains, it may be time to replace the wallpaper after all.