How to Remove Steam Marks from Bathroom Walls


Sharon asked: How do I remove steam marks? We have a brand new house, and it has special paint in the bathroom that was recommended by the paint supplier. Before we even used our bathroom, our relatives put their kids in the bath and steamed up the whole room by not using the ventilation available. The steam has run down the walls and seems to have stained them. How can I remove these stains?

Marks left by water running down the walls can be extremely difficult to remove. In fact, you may find that repainting with a semi-gloss, gloss or bathroom paint may be the only way to completely fix this problem. Before you take that step, however, give this one a try.

You Will Need:


  • Bucket
  • Clean sponges
  • 1 gallon warm water
  • ½ cup borax
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp household ammonia

Steps to Remove the Stain:

  1. Combine the liquid ingredients in the bucket.
  2. Before you begin, spot test the mixture on a hidden area. Wipe the wall then dry it to test for colorfastness.
  3. Use one of the sponges to wipe the walls with the solution. Start at the bottom and work your way up to prevent additional streaks/drips from appearing.
  4. After cleaning, use the second sponge to rinse the walls with clean water.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Before washing walls, make sure that baseboards are properly sealed with caulk at the top and on the floor so water does not infiltrate the wall system. A towel or sheet against the base of the wall can help catch excess moisture. (Be sure to remove it when you’re finished cleaning).
  • Streaks still there? Try Awesome – it works on almost anything and is available at dollar stores. Just as any cleaning product, test a small area first to ensure that it does not remove the paint or cause discoloration.
  • To avoid excess moisture on walls in the future, make sure the room is well ventilated. Use fans, if necessary, to prevent the build-up of humidity.



  1. Linda says:

    I would either reduce the amount of borax or increase the water; with this ratio I’ll be rinsing for hours as it has left a soapy residue.

  2. Julie says:

    This past winter, the temperatures dipped to -30 degrees, which created a lot of condensation on my walls and ceilings. I found several recommendations for cleaning solutions that all involved copious amounts of bleach. Bleach didn’t seem to be the answer for water stains. Glad I found this; it worked well for me.

  3. Stacey says:

    I agree with a previous post. The amount of Borax needs to be reduced or increase your water. There is a LOT of soapy residue left to rinse off.

  4. Hottyson says:

    I just used half water plus half vinegar. Cleaned my bathroom walls. Steam marks came right off and the bathroom smells fresh.

  5. Mortifoglio says:

    Does anyone know which Awesome product they are referring to? There are several cleaners and dish detergents to choose from.

  6. Rita says:

    Vinegar, borax, etc. will not work!!! What you have to do is use an oil-based primer and then paint!! I tried everything and was finally told this at a paint store and it worked! I was ready to pound out the wall after washing, and four coats of paint!!!

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