Renovation & Design

Enzymes key to clean removal of wallpaper

Tracy A. Woodward / Washington Post files

Wallpaper removal is easy with the right tools.

Question: I have removed wallpaper from a bedroom wall with no problem. However, I’m having trouble getting rid of the glue on the wall. I have used hot water to no avail. — Bernice

Answer: Wallpaper removal is not the tedious process it once was. When it comes to removing it, the secret is to arm yourself with the proper tools before beginning the project.

Buy a wallpaper perforating tool. This is a little tool that you will run in a circular motion all over your wallpaper to puncture little holes in the old paper.

Use a garden sprayer and fill it with 1-1/2 gallons of hot water and add wallpaper enzyme stripper (that’s the key). Saturate the old paper with the solution. If you don’t have a garden sprayer, use a spray bottle and add wallpaper enzyme stripper. Once the wallpaper is wet, leave it for 30 minutes to allow the enzymes to loosen the glue.

Next, peel the paper. For the remaining glue, use a wet sponge and ­additional stripper to wash the wall. Then clean the wall with TSP and water according to the directions on the carton.


Question: In a previous article, you wrote to clean oven racks in the bathtub with washing soda. I haven’t heard of this. Is it the same as baking soda? — Janis

Answer: Washing soda is like baking soda in that baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and washing soda is sodium carbonate. In other words, washing soda is stronger and not edible, and although it does not contain bleach or phosphates, it is caustic, and therefore, you need to wear gloves when working with washing soda.


Question: Can you please tell me the difference between lard and shortening? Can one be substituted for the other? — Erin

Answer: Lard and shortening are both common fats used in baking and cooking. Lard is a solid form of fat usually made from pork fat or animal fat.

Shortening, on the other hand, is made from partly hydrogenated vegetable oils, which have been solidified. Shortening is usually charged with nitrogen or whipped to incorporate air and then tempered into a soft product.

Lard and shortening may be used interchangeably most of the time. However, note that each adds its own flavour to the finished product and also produces different textures. For example, pie crusts made from lard are typically flakier than those made with shortening.


Question: This summer, rats climbed my tomato plants, grabbed a tomato and sat on our garage window sill and ate the tomatoes, leaving behind poop and urine.

I have been working for weeks, trying to remove the mess. I have tried vinegar, dish soap, Goo Be Gone, clothes washing soap, to name a few.

All that I am doing it moving the smudges around. Help! Any suggestions on how to clean the windows? They are a mess. — Diane

Answer: Squeaky Clean Window Cleaner Recipe: In a spray bottle, combine one teaspoon inexpensive shampoo or dish soap, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and fill remaining portion of the bottle with white vinegar. Spray and wipe.

Ammonia may be substituted for vinegar, which would be best for your challenging windows. Using a squeegee will help make this job a lot less tedious and a lot more fun.


Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at



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