How to Remove Water Stains from Wallpaper

Marguerite asked: Is it possible to remove water stains from wallpaper due to a water leak from ice and snow? The wallpaper is very stained in two large spots in the kitchen and dining room. It has lots of brown stains.

When wallpaper gets wet, so the does the wooden walls behind it. The brown discoloration comes from the tannins in the wood being absorbed by the wallpaper. While there are several cleanings that may make the stains less noticeable, it will require a weak bleaching to remove the brown discoloration. Be aware that this can also remove the coloring in the wallpaper. Here are the appropriate steps to take.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Wash cloths
  • Bucket
  • Bleach
  • Sponges

Steps to Remove the Water Stains:

  1. Fill the bucket with warm water.
  2. Add a small amount of dish soap and mix.
  3. Use a soft cloth moistened with the mixture to gently scrub the area. Do not add too much moisture, or you risk increasing the stain.
  4. Once all the surface dirt and grime has been removed, you are ready to tackle the stains.
  5. Mix one part bleach with two parts water.
  6. Blot a small amount of the bleach mixture onto the stained area using a sponge or soft cloth.
  7. Allow it to set for up to 5 minutes, watching it carefully for discoloration of the wallpaper (you want it to discolor the stain).
  8. Rinse with clean water, using a clean cloth.
  9. Dry the area with a soft cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If possible, check with the wallpaper manufacturer to see what cleaning products or methods should be avoided.
  • If possible, spot test a small area, or start with a small section of the stain prior to spreading the cleaning solution over the entire area.
  • For darker stains, it may take a repeated application to lighten the stain to a point that it is unnoticeable.


  1. A month after putting washable paper on, we have what looks like a wet mark with a bit of purple at the top of the wall. Any ideas what I can do?

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