How to remove children's paintings and drawings from wallpapers

The younger the child, the stronger their drive for unbridled self-expression. Alas, this is often reflected in "works of art" and doodles on wallpaper.

The little adventurer has made such an effort, he's immensely proud of the results, but Mum and Dad's enthusiasm with regards to the latest painting is rather limited, because design and pattern wallpapers aren't the best canvas for aspiring little artists. But what is done is done, and now there is just one thing for it: Make the best of the situation. Depending on the wallpaper surface, you might be able to remove the paint traces. If that isn't the case, creative solutions must be found.

Our Guide Blog explains in detail which circumstances make it possible to remove children's paintings from the wallpaper, and what else can be done to solve the issue. If cleaning is not an option, there are some other approaches and ideas that will be listed below. Furthermore, we will give you some helpful hints and tricks on how to prevent "stains" of this nature.


The degree of cleanability determines the possible ways to remove stains

Depending on the cleaning characteristics of the wallpaper in question, and the type of paint/pen used, there are different options of removing stains of this nature. The cleaning and care characteristics of various types of wallpaper refer to the washability of wallpaper surfaces and are divided into five categories:

  • Water-resistant
  • Wash-resistant
  • Highly wash-resistant
  • Scrub-resistant
  • Highly scrub-resistant

The specific details can be found in the information label that comes with each wallpaper roll and are also stated in the article descriptions in our Online Wallpaper Shop. Please keep the information label somewhere safe, and store it with a small piece of the wallpaper for easier identification, should you ever need to refer to it.

Water-resistant wallpapers cannot be washed/cleaned with a damp cloth (except for small spots of wallpapering paste). For the dry removal of black or coloured pencils, a so-called dirt or cleaning eraser is best suited. It can be used dry (and carefully!) on wallpaper surfaces made of robust paper or fleece, or densely woven textile fibres. Sets of cleaning erasers with a special, very soft cleaning solution are available in DIY and hardware shops. Alternatively, you can try a conventional soft white eraser. For special wallpapers with delicate surfaces like foils or natural materials, the eraser is unsuitable.

However, the dirt eraser can be used (in a dry or dampened state) on wash- and scrub-resistant wallpaper surfaces to get rid of the drawing materials listed above. Remember that the coated wallpaper surface will be roughened by this process, which can lead to differences in terms of colour and structure.

Wash-resistant wallpapers come with a special coating that allows for wiping them with a damp cloth and a mild soapy solution (no scouring agents!). Generally speaking, water-soluble as well as oil-, fat- and solvent-free stains can be removed this way. If the little ones' "art" was created with water-soluble felt-tips, a damp cloth can be used to get rid of it.

Highly washable wallpapers have a thicker sealing coat so that some fresh stains containing fat can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Fresh crayon marks on a small scale can also be wiped off by using a mild soap and water mix.

Stains on Scrub-resistant wallpapers can be removed with a mild cleaning agent (e.g. all-purpose cleaner without bleaching agents) and a soft brush or a sponge. Their plastic coating protects the colours of the pattern. However, that doesn't automatically mean that any type of stain can simply be washed off. Ballpoint pens and indelible marker pens are particularly tricky to get rid of. To protect your wallpaper, treating stains of this nature should be avoided and other solutions contemplated.

The same is true for highly scrub-resistant wallpapers: they are more robust and can take a more intense cleaning process, but the results are often less than satisfactory when it comes to indelible marker and ball pens. One might come across the recommendation to tackle ball pen marks with a dampened dirt eraser, but we would discourage this method as it can leave unattractive smudges.

Conclusion: Children's creations made with pencil, coloured pens, water-soluble paints and some crayons can be removed from wallpaper with a dry or damp cloth or sponge or a dirt eraser, depending on the exact cleaning characteristics and surface properties of the wall décor in question. Ball-point or marker pens as well as water-insoluble paints require small- or larger-scale re-decoration measures or a creative approach.


(Household) remedies that should definitely be avoided

There are many internet forums where parents exchange tips and recommendations regarding the problem with the unwanted creative output of their children on the walls. In some of the articles around this topic, some dubious methods for removing paintings and scribbles are mentioned that will make experts shudder: these "remedies" are nothing short of "playing with fire" and can certainly not be called actual solutions.

Stay away from bleaching agents and acidic substances of any kind, be it baking powder, sodium bicarbonate, washing powder, vinegar or citric acid. These substances damage the wallpaper surface, whilst not getting rid of the underlying problem - the stain itself. Hairspray is also often mentioned as a means to remove ball-pen drawings, but the effect might be less than desirable or even downright unsightly. Avoid alcohol and cleaners containing ammonia (e.g. window-cleaning products) as these, too, can leave their mark.

Our tips: We can recommend sparkling water for a damp clean. Pour a small amount on a clean cloth and dab the stains with it. The active oxygen often dissolves the substance.

Before trying your luck with soapy water or a cleaning agent, first use some lukewarm water without adding anything. Quite often this will do the trick, just as long as you proceed very carefully and do not rub the stain.

What to do if it is impossible to remove the stains

The most significant factor is the size of the painting or drawing, and whether it is in full view. If your child has decided to use half or all of the wall as a canvas, there is no way round re-decorating.

But if only one or two lengths of wallpaper are affected, they can simply be replaced. Non-woven wallpapers are much easier in this respect than paper-based models. Often it isn't even necessary to remove the whole length, but just part of it. You can find detailed information regarding this process in our Guide Blog How to repair damaged wallpaper on the wall.

An alternative to replacing part of a length of wallpaper is to add a nice wooden picture frame in order to deliberately emphasise the "piece of art". This only works, of course, when the area isn't too large and isn't located in a corner or another part of the wall that isn't suitable (too low or out of sight, for instance). Another option is to place a nice piece of furniture in front of it.

Prevention is better than cure

Spontaneous doodling usually occurs when the parents are absent. The little angel didn't mean to do anything wrong and wasn't aware of the consequences. Au contraire, they probably did their very best, so don't be too hard on them. Even if you are upset when you first spot the new addition to your wall, reprimanding them will probably lead to tears. Instead, it might be better to explain that they should use paper for their creative outbursts. To reinforce the learning effect, encourage your child to continue painting or drawing, but on the right medium. Explain why their artistic display will have to be removed. This is important as otherwise they will not feel valued and become disappointed.

Try to instil in your child that a piece of paper, a colouring book or a drawing pad are the right places for their creativity and that walls in kitchens, lounges, bathrooms, hallways, etc. are most definitely not.


A clever idea: Children's wallpaper designed to paint and draw on

Many parents have already opted for white wallpaper (wood-chip or similar) so that the kids can paint and draw on it to their heart's delight, thus creating a creative space that is perfect to display their works of art whilst not being unsightly but befitting of the environment.

But there is a more stylish and durable alternative: intelligent wallpapers designed to draw on. Find our popular wallpaper model Tinta Lousa Wallpaper in our Online Shop - made to draw and write on with chalk. The greatest advantage: The artistic outbursts can be wiped off with a damp cloth - again and again. An ideal way to let the creativity and zest of the little ones run riot.

Another option which literally provides the right frame for kids' paintings and drawings are our design patterned wallpapers with empty frames print which children can fill with their favourite pictures, photos and self-made art pieces. Check out our wallpapers Frames or Familjen which are perfectly suited for kids' rooms.