Can You Use a Clothes Steamer to Remove Wallpaper?

can you use a clothes steamer to remove wallpaper

Removing wallpaper is a challenging task that requires attention to detail if you don’t want to be left with a messy wall. When evaluating the different wallpaper removal methods, you might be wondering, can you use a clothes steamer to remove wallpaper? You can, but it will be slower than using a wallpaper steamer. 

A clothing steamer can be used to remove wallpaper. When the heat and steam from a clothing steamer are applied to wallpaper it will help melt the glue, allowing the wallpaper to be easily peeled or scraped off the wall. 

While I recommend a wallpaper steamer for the most efficient results, a clothing steamer can work wonders if you only have a small area to remove.

Let’s discuss the different types of clothes steamers and how well they work in removing wallpaper.

Using a Clothes Steamer for Wallpaper Removal

A clothes steamer will help remove or strip wallpaper through its gentle steam emission. When removing wallpaper, here are the pros and cons of each type of garment steamer:

Handheld Garment Steamers

can i use a garment steamer to remove wallpaper

A handheld clothes steamer will give you the most flexibility in moving about the wall, into low and high areas, and tight spaces. They are relatively lightweight to hold, heat up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and emit a continuous flow of gentle steam.

There is generally minimal waiting time for the steamer to heat up. Most handheld fabric steamers heat up in less than 1 minute. 

The downside of using a handheld clothing steamer to remove wallpaper is the water tank is small and will need refilling often. A handheld steamer generally runs for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the water tank size and steam output.

Handheld steamers are best used to remove small areas of wallpaper, such as borders around the top of a wall, above doorways or in tight spaces.

Standing Clothing Steamer

can you use a clothes steamer on wallpaper

A standing or vertical clothes steamer can be used to remove wallpaper. It is best suited to removing wallpaper from lower areas of walls or into tight spaces.

The benefit of a standing clothes steamer over a handheld clothes steamer is the running time.

Upright fabric steamers are characterized by a large water tank which enables them to provide a continuous performance for a long time. 

Depending on the model you have, heat up can be in less than a couple of minutes or up to 15 minutes for commercial garment steamers that heat the full boiler tank of water. 

Compared to handheld clothes steamers, they have a more solid base and are designed to be used in one spot. Many models have wheels for mobility. 

As you are not holding the water tank while steaming, an upright steamer should be lighter on the arms than a handheld steamer when removing wallpaper. 

What limits vertical steamers is the steam hose. Most upright steamers have steam hoses between 4.5 feet and 5.5 feet long.

They won’t reach very high up the wall, and you may have difficulty effectively steaming the higher areas of the wall. You could get around this by lifting up the steamer and placing it on a chair or table, so the steam hose reaches higher.

You may also have to stand on a ladder, which you will need anyway.

Travel Garment Steamers

using a clothes steamer to remove wallpaper

Travel steamers are virtually the same as handheld clothes steamers. However, they are generally smaller, lightweight, hold less water, and operate with less power. 

Travel steamers are not ideal for removing wallpaper, as the steam output is usually not very strong. If you have multiple layers of wallpaper, it will take a lot of time and effort to remove them using a travel steamer. 

Problems With Using a Clothes Steamer to Remove Wallpaper

When you consider the size of the soleplate on a fabric steamer compared to a wallpaper steamer, using a clothes steamer is going to take some time. 

The Wagner wallpaper steamer plate is 8 inches x 11 inches wide. It also comes with a mini steam plate that is 3 inches x 6 inches.

wallpaper steamer vs clothes steamer

How to Use a Clothes Steamer to Remove Wallpaper

What You Will Need:

  • Protection for your flooring – Dura-Gold with tape on the edge is a worthwhile buy
  • Your clothes steamer
  • Distilled water (pick it up in Walmart for around $1 per gallon)
  • A scraper
  • A wallpaper perforation tool (not essential, but may come in handy)

Removing wallpaper using a steamer is simple and effective. You don’t need any special chemicals. The steam is hot enough to melt the bond, so the wallpaper peels off easily. 

Some may recommend scoring the wallpaper to allow better penetration of the steam. I advise against this initially – unless you want your wallpaper to come off in tiny little pieces.

Preparation: Use a drop sheet or some kind of protection for your flooring. Dura-Gold is an excellent choice, as it has tape on one side that you can stick against your baseboard or edge of the wall.

Clean the room by relocating furniture away from the wall. Remove pictures, paintings, or other items from the wall.

  1. Fill your steamer with distilled water.
  2. Plugin your steamer and allow it time to heat up. 
  3. Starting at a join in the wallpaper, hold the steamer head as close to the wall as possible. If your steamer head is flat enough and won’t mark the wall, press it against it. 
  4. Allow the steam to penetrate the wallpaper for around 10-20 seconds. 
  5. Work in small sections, you don’t want the wallpaper to cool back down and the glue to stick back to the wall.
  6. Remove the steamer and see if you can peel back the wallpaper. This is where the scraper comes in handy. 

Caution: Never steam electrical outlets, switches, plugs, etc. Steam is heated water. Water and electricity do not mix.

Removing Glue from the Wall

If you find adhesive still on the wall after you have stripped the wallpaper, you can heat this up using your clothes steamer and use a scraper to scrape it off.

However, this is where you don’t press the steamer against the wall. The adhesive may stick to the soleplate of your steamer and end up on your clothing when you next use it.

If you have difficulty removing all the glue, fill a spray bottle with fabric softener and water and spray the wall. Then use the scraper to remove the final residue.

Getting all the glue off the drywall is essential if you plan on painting after you have removed the wallpaper. The glue will show up underneath the paint, and it won’t be a smooth, even finish.

Can You Use an Iron to Remove Wallpaper?

steam iron to remove wallpaper

A steam iron can be used to remove wallpaper by using the hottest setting on the iron and enabling steam.

Here are the steps:

  1. Fill your iron with distilled water or whatever water you usually use in your iron.
  2. Plugin your iron. Switch it to the highest heat setting and allow it time to heat up. 
  3. Starting at a join in the wallpaper, hold the iron flat against the wall for around 5 seconds.
  4. Lift it slowly off the wall but keep it near the wall so the steam hits the wallpaper.
  5. Work in small sections, you don’t want the wallpaper to cool back down and the glue to stick back to the wall.
  6. Peel back the wallpaper. This is where the scraper comes in handy.
  7. Use the fabric softener and water method mentioned above to remove any remaining adhesive from your wall. Don’t re-iron your wall after the wallpaper has been stripped. The glue will stick to the base of the iron and ruin it. 

Tips to Avoid Damage to Your Walls When Removing Wallpaper

  1. Use a firm scraper rather than a flexible one. Flexible scrapers can bend and get caught, causing gauges in the wall.
  2. Avoid pressing the scraper too hard on the wall to prevent damage.
  3. Apply more steam as you continue scraping to ensure that all the glue or backing has been removed from the wall. This will save you extra clean-up at the end.

How to Clean a Wall After Removing Wallpaper

wallpaper removal steamer vs chemical

Removing the entire wallpaper residue from the wall is not always easy. In some instances, using warm water and detergent might not be enough to give you perfect results. 

Therefore, you need to enhance the cleaning performance using additional cleaning agents such as vinegar or fabric softener. Here are some tips:

Use a Vinegar Solution

  • Mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of warm water.
  • Add 6 to 8 drops of lemon juice or eucalyptus essential oil. 
  • Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  • Lightly spray this solution on the wall. 
  • Allow a few minutes for the solution to activate.
  • Scrape from the bottom of the wall to the top to remove residual glue. 
  • Wipe the scraper clean on an old towel or cloth as you go.

Use a Fabric Softener Solution

  • Fill a spray bottle with warm water, leaving room for a bit of fabric softener.
  • Pour in a 1-2 caps of fabric softener (depending on the size of your bottle). The fabric softener helps the water stay on the wallpaper and remove the glue.
  • Give the bottle a good shake to mix.
  • Lightly spray this solution on the wall. 
  • Allow a couple of minutes for it to activate.
  • Scrape from the bottom of the wall to the top to remove residual glue. 
  • Wipe the scraper clean on an old towel or cloth as you go.
  • Repeat the process as needed.

Wallpaper Steamers vs Clothes Steamers: What are Their Differences? 

The difference between a wallpaper steamer and a clothes steamer is the plate’s design that presses against the wall. Wallpaper steamers have a large flat plate held against the wall to remove wallpaper.

Clothing steamers have a much smaller soleplate. Both types of steamers can be used to remove wallpaper.

If you have a large area of wallpaper to remove, you may find it faster and easier to use a wallpaper steamer rather than a clothing steamer. Wallpaper steamers also have much longer hoses (up to 12ft long) to allow you to reach the top of walls with ease.

The large plate of the wallpaper steamer has a handle on it to hold it flush against the wall. It is more lightweight than holding a handheld steamer and will cover a larger area much faster.

Wallpaper steamers generally have larger water tanks to provide a longer continuous performance than clothes steamers.  

What is the Best Steamer to Remove Wallpaper?

The Wagner 725 is my choice for an inexpensive wallpaper steamer that works.

Alternatively, take a look at other options including steam cleaners with extra wallpaper attachments. You’ll find my list of best wallpaper removal steamers here.

Wagner Spraytech 725 Wallpaper Steamer
  • Two steam plates for larger and smaller areas
  • 12ft long hose to reach the top of the wall
  • Runs for up to 2 hours
  • Easy to hold handles
  • Easy to use
Buy on Amazon
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02/17/2024 09:55 pm GMT

If you don’t want to buy one, you can also rent a professional wallpaper steamer. I have made a list of companies that offer wallpaper steamer rental across the US.

Can You Use a Clothing Steamer to Remove Wallpaper?

If you need to remove wallpaper without a wallpaper steamer, try using your clothing steamer. It will produce the same hot steam as a wallpaper steamer and can be just as effective.

The downside of using a clothing steamer to remove wallpaper is the time it can take. Because of the small soleplate on the clothing steamer, you won’t be able to cover an expansive area in a short amount of time.

If you have time and patience, you can make it work.


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