Will Steam Cleaning Damage Wallpaper: A Quick Guide


Steam cleaning has gained popularity as an eco-friendly and efficient method for cleaning various surfaces. Utilizing the natural power of steam, this method effectively removes dirt, grime, and bacteria without the need for harsh chemicals. Steam cleaning is particularly favored for its ability to sanitize and refresh surfaces, making it a go-to solution for households looking to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

However, the question arises: can steam cleaning damage wallpaper? This article explores the potential impacts of steam cleaning on wallpaper, taking into account the type of wallpaper, steam pressure, temperature, and best practices to ensure safe cleaning.

Factors Affecting Wallpaper and Steam Cleaning

Wallpaper Type

Wallpaper comes in a variety of materials, each with different levels of durability and sensitivity to heat and moisture. Understanding the type of wallpaper in your home is crucial before attempting to steam clean it.

Delicate Wallpapers: Delicate wallpapers, such as those made from fabric or untreated paper, are more susceptible to damage from steam cleaning. Fabric wallpapers can absorb moisture quickly, leading to potential warping, discoloration, or adhesive breakdown. Untreated paper wallpapers are particularly fragile and can easily tear or peel when exposed to moisture and heat.

Durable Wallpapers: Durable wallpapers, such as vinyl and vinyl-coated options, offer greater resistance to moisture and heat. Vinyl wallpapers are commonly used in high-traffic areas and rooms prone to moisture, like kitchens and bathrooms, because of their durability. Vinyl-coated wallpapers have a protective layer that makes them more resilient to steam cleaning. However, even these wallpapers require careful handling to prevent damage.

Steam Pressure and Temperature

The settings on your steam cleaner play a pivotal role in determining whether steam cleaning will damage your wallpaper. High steam pressure and temperature can be detrimental, especially to delicate wallpapers.

High Pressure and Temperature: Using a steam cleaner on high settings can cause excessive heat and moisture to penetrate the wallpaper, leading to damage. Delicate wallpapers can become saturated and peel away from the wall. High temperatures can also cause colors to fade or run, especially in fabric or untreated paper wallpapers.

Appropriate Settings: To avoid damage, it’s essential to use the steam cleaner on lower pressure and temperature settings when cleaning wallpaper. This reduces the risk of moisture saturation and heat damage, allowing for a safer cleaning process. Adjusting the settings according to the type of wallpaper ensures effective cleaning without compromising the integrity of the material.

See also: How to Use Steam to Freshen and Refine Your Clothes?

Safe Steam Cleaning Practices for Wallpaper

Testing on Inconspicuous Area

Before applying steam to a large area of wallpaper, it’s crucial to test it on an inconspicuous spot. This preliminary test helps identify any adverse reactions the wallpaper may have to the steam, such as peeling, discoloration, or warping.

1. Choose a small, hidden section of the wallpaper.

2. Apply steam in short bursts, maintaining a safe distance.

3. Observe the wallpaper for any signs of damage.

4. If the wallpaper shows no adverse effects, proceed with caution to clean the rest of the area.

Maintaining Distance and Short Bursts

When steam cleaning wallpaper, the distance between the steam nozzle and the wallpaper surface is critical. Holding the nozzle too close can cause excessive moisture and heat to concentrate on a small area, leading to damage.

Recommended Practices:

1. Keep the steamer nozzle at least 6-12 inches away from the wallpaper.

2. Use short bursts of steam rather than continuous exposure to prevent saturation.

3. Move the nozzle in a consistent, sweeping motion to distribute steam evenly.

Microfiber Cloth for Wiping

To minimize the amount of steam directly contacting the wallpaper, use a microfiber cloth to wipe away loosened dirt and grime. Microfiber cloths are gentle and effective, helping to clean the wallpaper without causing damage.

1. Apply steam in short bursts to a small section of the wallpaper.

2. Immediately wipe the area with a microfiber cloth to remove dirt and moisture.

3. Repeat the process, working in small sections to ensure thorough cleaning.

Alternatives for Delicate Wallpaper

For delicate wallpapers that cannot withstand steam cleaning, consider alternative methods to keep them clean and well-maintained.

Damp Cloth

A damp cloth is a simple and effective tool for cleaning delicate wallpapers.


1. Dampen a soft cloth with water (not too wet to avoid moisture damage).

2. Gently wipe the wallpaper surface to remove dirt and grime.

3. Use a dry cloth to pat the area dry, preventing moisture buildup.

See also: Steam Cleaning Outdoors

Wallpaper Cleaner

Specialized wallpaper cleaners are designed to clean without causing damage. These cleaners are formulated to be gentle on delicate materials while effectively removing dirt.


1. Follow the instructions on the wallpaper cleaner product.

2. Apply the cleaner with a soft cloth or sponge.

3. Wipe the wallpaper gently, avoiding excessive pressure.


Steam cleaning can be a safe and effective method for cleaning wallpaper, provided the correct precautions are taken. Understanding the type of wallpaper and adjusting the steam cleaner settings accordingly is crucial to prevent damage. Always test on an inconspicuous area first, maintain a safe distance, and use short bursts of steam. For delicate wallpapers, consider alternative cleaning methods like a damp cloth or specialized wallpaper cleaner. When in doubt, seeking professional help ensures that your wallpaper is cleaned safely and effectively.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of steam cleaning without compromising the integrity of your wallpaper.

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