How to Remove Wallpaper Border


L Ross asked: How do I remove wallpaper border? The border has been on 9 years. Is there a removal method using stuff we have around the house instead of buying something? Thank you.

Wallpaper borders offer a quick way to enhance the beauty of any room. When the time comes to remove them for replacement or just redecorating, there are several methods that can be used. The ease in which the paper removes from the wall depends largely on the type of adhesive used, the wall material, the wallpaper border material and how long it has been in place. Start with the easiest methods and work your way down the list until the wallpaper is removed.

Heat Methods

Some adhesives can be softened with heat and then easily removed from the surface. Here are two options.

You Will Need:

  • Hair dryer
  • Steamer
  • Plastic scraper

Steps to Remove the Border:

  1. Turn the hairdryer on the low setting with high heat. If the only setting for high heat is high air flow, use that.
  2. Hold the dryer 8-10 inches from the surface of the wallpaper.
  3. Allow the warm air to blow onto the surface until the glue becomes heated and begins to soften.
  4. Gently peel away the border or wallpaper.
  5. Use a plastic scraper if necessary help loosen the bond.
  6. If using a steamer, work in small sections for the best results.
  7. Start steaming at the bottom and work towards the top. One the border begins to loosen, use a plastic scraper to remove it from the wall.

Removing Border from Wallpaper

Most borders that are glued onto existing wallpaper are easy to remove with a little moisture.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic scraper
  • Perforation tool (optional)

Steps to Remove the Border:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with warm water.
  2. Mist the surface of the border.
  3. Let the water soak into the border and soften the adhesive.
  4. Once the adhesive has softened, peel the border off. A plastic scraper can be used to assist with the removal if necessary.
  5. Apply more water as needed to soften the glue completely.
  6. If the border has a vinyl covering, the water will not be able to penetrate the surface to reach the glue. In these cases, perforate the surface with a perforating tool and then spray with water.

DIY Wallpaper Stripper

There are a variety of commercial wallpaper strippers available, but you can make your own at home as well. Here are two recipes that can be used.

You Will Need:

  • Fabric softener
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Soft cloths
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic scraper

Mix Your Home-Made Wallpaper Stripper:

There are two different homemade wallpaper strippers that have been effective in removing borders.

  1. Fabric Softener Wallpaper Stripper: Combine one capful of fabric softener with four cups of water.
  2. Vinegar Wallpaper Stripper: Mix one part vinegar with one part water. For stronger adhesives, mix two parts vinegar with one part water.

Steps to Remove the Border:

  1. Fill the spray bottle with either the fabric softener or vinegar mixture.
  2. Spray the mixture directly onto the wallpaper border. For stronger adhesives, apply a thicker layer of the mixture using a sponge or soft cloth.
  3. Allow the stripper to soak into the border and soften the adhesive.
  4. Gently pull the border away from the wall or use a plastic scraper to scrape it off.
  5. Once removed, wipe the surface with a cloth dampened with warm water to remove any residue.
  6. If vinegar was used, there will be a lingering vinegar smell. This will dissipate in a day or two.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If adhesive residue remains on the wall or surface after the border is removed, moisten a soft cloth with the stripping solution and gently wipe it over the surface. If a heat method was used, soften the glue with additional heat and wipe away with a damp cloth.
  • Use caution when removing border from existing wallpaper. The same strippers that weaken the adhesive in the border may also soak through to the wallpaper and weaken the bond with the wall. Once the border is removed, wipe the area clean to remove any remaining liquid or stripper.
  • If you are looking to put up a new border, check the instructions for application and removal. There are borders that are made to stick on a wall and peel off easily, without any additional stripping products or clean up. These work especially well for decorating children’s rooms, apartments, college dorm rooms, etc. where the border will be used short term.


  1. I tried the hairdryer method first,(with no luck). I then tried the fabric softener in a spray bottle. That worked very well. After soaking the wallpaper well, I let it sit for a few minutes, and I was amazed at how easy it came off!! Thanks for a great tip!

  2. I am pregnant and was looking for a chemical-free way to remove our bathroom wallpaper border. The vinegar and water solution was it! I just used a flour sack and brought the mixture in a bowl into the bathroom. Use a firm rubber spatula and you’ll be done in no time!

  3. Vinegar Wallpaper Stripper: Mix one part vinegar with one part water. For stronger adhesives, mix two parts vinegar with one part water.

    worked perfect for me!

  4. I actually saw this on TV before I read it here. On a painted wall, I used the liquid fabric softener straight from the bottle on a cloth. I just wiped it on two or three times and waited a minute or so. The border came off easily with a plastic scraper.

  5. Knowledge is Power!
    Tried the hot blower. Did not work.
    The softener, though, was great! Spent 30 minutes on a two-foot section with the blower. Using the softener and a scraper, spent less than 15 minutes in a 20 foot section. I did not have a perforation tool. Just pulled the paper out and then used the softener on the residual paper backing. Thank you!

  6. The fabric softener method worked amazingly! My only suggestion is that you remove the top layer of paper before spraying. I’m not sure if mine was vinyl or not, but it took too long to penetrate with the liquid. Once the top layer was gone, the rest of the job just flew by. Thanks!

  7. Hot water and a flat metal tool from my toolbox worked for me. I had no problems at all, it was super easy! So glad that ugly wallpaper is gone!

  8. I used window cleaner. I pulled the border paper off as much as possible, then sprayed it with the window cleaner to soften the glue. Then I scraped, and it came off very easily!

  9. I just used the fabric softener method and it worked super. I had pulled off the design portion before, leaving the paper with the glue. After spraying the solution and waiting five minutes, it came off as easily as the design portion. I’m so glad that I didn’t have to buy an expensive solution that stinks. Thank you for the tip.

  10. The 1:1 vinegar/water solution was incredibly simple. The paper almost came off by itself. I had a vinyl wall border and pulled all of that off first. I sprayed the rest with the vinegar/water solution, used a metal scraper and it was hardly any work at all to get it off. I sprayed the residue with the solution and used a soft cloth (an old t-shirt) to wipe it off. Thank you to whomever discovered this; I thought I would be scraping for days! I did an entire room and hallway in one hour!

  11. I used full-strength white vinegar on a sponge. Wet the boarder and then pull off the outer paper. Soak it again, and then I just used a fingernail and it peeled right off. Simple.

  12. Hot water is all you need…pull off the top layer of paper by hand, then spray the rest with the hot water in about 5-ft sections (too much more and the old adhesive will run down the wall, making it more difficult to have all adhesive GONE if you’re planning on re-painting). Afterwards, go back over with a sponge in hot water, squeezing out/cleaning the sponge frequently. Easy!!

  13. I had a border that had been up for 12 years, which is possibly why it was so hard to remove. I have removed wallpaper border before with one of those portable steamers, but don’t have it anymore. This time I used a small iron with steam to remove the design part, slowly, took forever, hairdryer definitely didn’t work. Then I used fabric softener diluted sparingly with water to remove the glue. Wiped it all down with a cloth and have repainted one wall so far with no problems. Took a lot of time; next time I think I’ll go with a sponge and straight fabric softener. I used a metal scraper when I needed to.

  14. Vinegar and water in equal parts is working very well on this 20+-year-old wallpaper border. The work is in getting the glue residue off the wall.

  15. Fabric softener worked AMAZING!!!

  16. I use vinegar to clean everything, but I honestly never thought to use it to remove a wallpaper border. I had my last “empty nest” kid’s room to clear out, and wow – this was quick and easy! I sprayed it, walked away, went back after 15 minutes, and totally peeled everything away. I love vinegar!

  17. My nana is very happy and she loves what your info gave. Her bathroom border is the worst, but she got it off now. THANKS!

  18. The hot water and vinegar did the trick! We peeled off the top “plastic-y” layer and then sprayed the vinegar onto the paper-y underneath layer, let it sit and then scraped it. It came off perfectly and the wall is now ready for some new paint!

  19. After pulling off the plastic-coated layer, I used fabric softener in hot water in a spray bottle, catching drips with a sponge which I pressed back onto the paper. I saturated about three feet, then another three feet, went back to first section and wet it again before scraping with either a plastic scraper or a metal one. I squirted and scraped again for any residue. Wiped it all with a cleaner sponge.

    I had first tried water, then hot water and vinegar pressed on with a sponge without much improvement. Next, I tried liquid dish soap in hot water in a spray bottle, which was better, but not as fast as the fabric softener.

  20. Mary Ellen says:

    About five or six years ago, I put up a border on a painted wall. About six months ago, I noticed there are shadows and drips showing. I believe the paste from the back of the self-pasting border got on the walls while I put it up and overtime has changed color or collected dirt so that it now shows. It’s not a sticky residue. I don’t want to remove the border, but would like to clean the walls. I tried an all purpose cleaner. I tried commercial wallpaper remover. I tried a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. None of them even faded the shadow or drips. Any other ideas?

  21. I used the fabric softener method. Was very wary, but to my surprise it was quite easy. I just took the vinyl border off as I went, which left the adhesive part. I sprayed the solution on heavily, let it soak in for a few seconds and it just came off. All I had to do was wipe the small bits off with a cloth that had the softener solution on it. It is about a medium size bathroom. The border had been on for about 30 years (time for a change). It took me about two hours; that included clean up too.

  22. It may take several hours to completely remove wallpaper (especially if it’s been there for a couple of decades). I found that soaking, or even saturating the wall helped a lot. I sprayed the area, let it sit for about 20 minutes, and began scraping. Removing old wallpaper can be a tedious task, but with the right tools, a lot of patience and basic knowledge, it can be done. Don’t take out your frustration on walls! You can always contact a pro to take care of your home remodeling needs.

  23. I have a peel and stick wallpaper border on my coveing in my lounge. The top layer came off easily, but the sticky remains. Anyone with any ideas? The vinegar/water works very well on the ordinary borders. (Help.)

Leave a Comment