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Why Do My Bathroom Walls Feel Sticky? (Reason and Solution)

Bathrooms are the smallest rooms in a house yet they are one of the most important. In a way, the bathroom ties the whole house together. You might be wondering how that is possible. It is because it is a space that is shared by the whole family!

Why do my bathroom walls feel sticky? 

Multiple reasons might cause your bathroom walls to be sticky. One of the reasons can be residual wallpaper adhesive not being properly treated before applying paint. Another very common mistake is bathrooms with poor ventilation can cause mildew growth on the surface of the walls and feel sticky.

If the paint is directly applied to untreated walls that previously had wallpaper, the residual glue will be activated and become an oily or sticky layer on the surface.

Poor ventilation means that the bathroom will trap steam when you take hot showers which are a perfect breeding ground for mold which starts growing behind the walls and eventually comes through to the surface.

What causes bathroom walls to become sticky?

Wallpaper residue:  

One of the reasons why there is wallpaper residue in your home might be because the previous owners did not properly take all the steps of removal.

Wallpaper is attached using adhesive so that it can stick to the walls firmly. Since this glue is very strong, they stay on the walls even after removing and need to be removed.

Nicotine Damage:

This occurs when someone smokes inside the bathroom or close to the bathroom area. Smoke and tar from cigarettes build up on the surface of the walls which leads to a sticky residue.

Surfactant Leaching:

When the paint on walls isn’t given enough time to dry, the surfactant does not set and seeps through the walls.

This leaves the surface of the walls to become oily and sticky. This is a common problem when the paint used is water-based latex paint.


The drips of water on the walls after a hot shower start to condense because there is no place for the steam to exit.

This makes it the perfect breeding ground for bacterial mold; they start growing underneath the walls and eventually appear as small dots on the surface of the walls.

How to clean sticky bathroom walls?

You can easily clean the sticky element that’s dripping down your bathroom walls using a few household items:

Prepare the solution:

The first thing you will need to do is prepare a solution. You will need 1 gallon of warm water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 cup of household ammonia.

Mix all the ingredients and pour it in a spray bottle and you have your cleaning solution ready to be used.

Apply the solution:

Spray the solution onto the affected areas of your wall and let it sit for about 15 minutes and allow it to soak.

Rinse cleaning solution:

Finally, use a damp cloth or sponge and gently clean the walls.

Remember to keep your bathroom well ventilated to prevent future problems.

Why are my bathroom walls sweating sticky stuff?

The main reason walls sweat is because of poor ventilation, steam is trapped inside the bathroom which results in condensation. You should keep in mind that both high and low temperatures can cause condensation.

The steam that rises after you shower not only contains water droplets but also body oils, dried skin, detergent residue, and debris. If this steam does not have any exit outlet, it will drip down the walls of your bathroom because the walls are cooler.

Most wall paint is water-based so this condensation on its surface will cause them to activate and the oils or polymers will start dripping out from the surface.

Another reason might be the pipes behind the walls of your bathroom might be leaking, causing the water to seep through the walls. As mentioned before, paint contains water-activating ingredients which are likely to leach through walls.

How do I stop my bathroom walls from sweating?

Preventing bathroom walls from sweating is easier than you might think! You can easily stop your walls from sweating by trying the following things:

Turn up the thermostat:

If you keep the temperature of your bathroom higher, this will cause the cold areas to warm up and reduce condensation.

Get an extractor fan:

If your bathroom does not have any windows, you can get an extractor fan. This will keep your bathroom well ventilated as the steam will have a way out.

Apply an anti-condensation paint: 

These are water-based paint made of acrylic polymer which absorbs water. Some of these paints also contain a fungicide that prevents the growth of mold.

Take cool showers:

Usually bathroom walls that have tiles become cold and taking hot showers results in condensation taking place on the walls. If you take cold showers, there won’t be any steam that will stick to the cold walls.

What is the best adhesive remover?

The residual adhesive on walls can get pretty sticky and annoying when left alone for long. However, there are a few different ways you can easily clean them up using house old items.

The petroleum jelly method:

  • All you need for this process is petroleum jelly, a cloth, and some warm water.
  • The first thing you will do is let the jelly sit for 1 hour in the shower.
  • Then wet the cloth in warm water and apply the jelly onto the sticky areas using the cloth.
  • Repeat the process of using the warm cloth to wipe until everything is removed.

The vinegar and baking soda solution method:

  • For this method, you will need baking soda, vinegar, paper towels and, a sponge.
  • Soak paper towels in vinegar and press the wet paper towels onto the sticky walls.
  • Let them sit for a few hours and reapply vinegar when they become dry.
  • Take your sponge and put a sprinkle of baking soda on it.
  • All you have to do now is remove the paper towels and rub the affected areas.

The cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide method:

  • In a small container add 2 tsp of hydrogen peroxide and 4-6 tsp of cream of tartar.
  • Mix them to create a paste and apply this mixture directly to the wall.
  • Using plastic wrap cover the areas you put the paste on and let it sit for an hour.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and clean off the paste and glue using a damp sponge or cloth. 
  • Finally, rinse off the wall and you’re done. 

The water displacement spray method:

  • For this process, you will need a bottle of water displacement spray, a cloth or sponge, and water.
  • Apply water displacement spray on the affected areas.
  • Using a damp cloth or sponge rub the area.
  • Repeat the first two steps until the glue comes off and rinse with cool water and you’re done.

Can you paint over sticky residue?

It is recommended not to paint over sticky adhesive residue. This is because most wallpaper adhesive and wall paint are water-based; this means reapplying will reactivate the glue.

As a result, the glue will mix with your paint and may eventually form cracks and chips in the future.

Using an oil-based primer before applying paint is a good idea if you don’t want to remove the glue before painting.

Taking care of a bathroom is essential because it is a space shared by the whole family. It can seem daunting at first, but it can be pretty easy to do!