How to clean and look after your luxury wallcoverings

How to clean and look after your luxury wallcoverings

You’ve chosen your luxury wallcoverings, had them installed by the experts at Wells Interiors, and your refurbishment project has been a great success. But how do you look after your prized papers? We’ve put together a quick guide to help you maintain and protect your beautiful walls for years to come.

Hand-Painted wallpapers

Harald Donoghue at de Gournay, one of the most popular wallcovering suppliers for London homes, tells us: “To ensure the best possible start, [our papers] must be installed according to the de Gournay hanging instructions and protected from sources of damp, excessive humidity and all extremes of temperature.” Painted papers should also be kept out of direct sunlight if possible to avoid fading. They should be dusted regularly with a feather duster and can also be vacuumed with a soft clean attachment to remove dust and debris. Don’t try to use bleach, dusting sprays or any other cleaning products on this type of wallpaper.

hand wallpaper
de Gournay 'Amazonia' in standard design colours on Edo Chalk Pink painted xuan paper. Photography by Mariam Medvedeva

Textiles and grasscloth 

Having done wallpaper installations in London for over ten years now, our experience is that certain rooms (e.g. kitchens and playrooms) require tougher materials. Altfield say that their textile and grasscloth wallcoverings can be treated with cleaning fluid for both oil-based and water-based stains, assuring us that these coverings are “made to last with routine attention and professional maintenance”. If you treat your textile wallcoverings with stain repellent before installation, any spilt food and drink should bead up instantly to be wiped away. Oily stains can also be blotted if you get to them quick enough.

Altfield Textured Grasscloth in the colour wave 'Field'. Installer unknown, please DM us to credit your work.


The most durable wallcovering option, vinyl still requires a bit of care and attention to keep it looking pristine. For general cleaning, a mild soap and warm water should suffice, but if your vinyl suffers from any major stains, it’s important to use the right product for the job. For example, ballpoint ink, pencil and crayon should be removed immediately using a cloth dampened in rubbing alcohol. For chewing gum or grease, you need to use cleaning naphtha.

vinyl collection
Vescom 'Barkley' wallcovering 01 vinyl collection. Installer unknown, please DM us to credit your work.

General tips

No Abrasives

Emma Boden at Altfield calls harsh abrasives “a big no-no”, even on vinyl papers. That includes steel wool or powdered abrasives – both can damage the surface of your luxury wallcoverings, leaving an unsightly appearance. If you’re drying a wallcovering, always use a blotting action with a soft cloth rather than a rubbing motion to avoid abrasion.

Dust regularly

Anyone with wallcoverings in London knows how much dust and grime the city produces. The key is to remove this from your wallcoverings on a regular basis (at least monthly) to prevent the dirt from settling and staining, either with a feather duster or the correct vacuum attachment.

Test your methods

As Fromental warns: “the result of any cleaning process is entirely dependent on what the stain is… no guarantees can be given.” Before you try out a general cleaning product or attack a stain in a prominent place, test it out somewhere inconspicuous to check the effect. Too often, we find ourselves doing wallpaper installations in London to replace papers that have been damaged beyond repair by well-meaning cleaning efforts

When all else fails…

Before you heave a sigh of despair and start ordering new wallcoverings, it’s always worth contacting the supplier with photos of the damage. Companies may be able to help you mitigate the situation, either by appliquéing a piece of new covering over the stains or, where appropriate, painting additional designs to hide marks.

Want to find out more about our services?

Find out what our private homeowners have to say about their experience with Wells Interiors. Additionally, our team of experts will be more than happy to help with any wallpaper related questions that you may have. 

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