Artwork and a painting in your home often is not only for decor but also holds a special place in our hearts. Paintings are often handed down from generation to generation and can hold a lot of monetary value as well.
Sometimes we will store paintings in storage units or attics until we can find the right place for them. These paintings (oil, acrylic, and watercolor) will build up dust or perhaps will even get stained over time. The safest way to clean them would be to hire a professional (some home cleaning services have this specialty), but there are some tricks and tips to cleaning paintings if you want to try it out on your own. The method you use to clean your artwork will depend on the type of paint used.
Tools Required to Clean a Painting
- Soft brush and cloth
- Vacuum with dusting attachment
- Dry rubber sponge
- Dish Detergent
- Compressed Air
- White bread
- Acetone solvent
- Blotting Paper
How to Clean an Oil Painting
Oil paintings are the safest to try to clean on your own. The oil in the paint makes it fairly durable. The safest option to clean your oil painting is with a very soft brush. The brush can be used to remove dust and any dirt particles. You could use a soft paintbrush or a soft bristled toothbrush for example. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a dusting attachment. The key with any of these tools is to be very light. Do not scrub the surface! Another option would be to use compressed air to blow away the dust.
Some light staining oil paintings can be cleaned using a soft cloth and water with a couple of drops of dish detergent. Try it out on an inconspicuous area first. Just dab the canvas. Again, do not scrub. Watch the surface of the painting and inspect the cloth to make sure no paint is coming off.
How to Clean an Acrylic Painting
Use compressed air in a can to blow away surface dust from your acrylic painting. You can use your delicate brush as long as you are very gentle. If the paint is damaged or scratched already, do not use your brush as you might cause further damage.
Seek out a professional home cleaning service that specializes in art if you cannot safely clean your acrylic painting. Another option would be to take the painting to an art gallery to use their cleaning services.
How to Clean a Watercolor Painting
Watercolor paintings are unique when it comes to cleaning. The paper used on a watercolor is a special type and must be cleaned with extreme care. Because the paint is water based, it is more likely to be removed unintentionally. Do not try to use water to clean your watercolor paintings!
An interesting way to clean your watercolor painting is with a piece of fresh white bread. Ball up a small piece of bread and very gently rub it over the surface of the picture. The bread works like an eraser and picks up dust and dirt without damaging it. Continue this process using new pieces of white bread often until you see no evidence of dirt or dust on the piece of bread.
If there is an oil based stain on your watercolor painting, the best option would be to hire a professional home cleaning service that offers this service. If you do not want to hire a professional, you can try to remove it on your own if you are very careful. You will need an acetone solvent, a small iron, and blotting paper. Carefully apply the acetone solvent to the stain using a cotton swab. Place the blotting paper over the treated area and use your iron a warm setting to iron the blotting paper. Only use this methodology over the non-painted areas. Protect the painted area with a piece of cardboard or something similar.
Your paintings are an important part of your home decor and potentially a big part of your family history. You will want to take utmost care when attempting any self-cleaning. If you choose to store your paintings, protect them from the environment so that they do not get dusty or yellow.
Wonderful article about cleaning paintings. I have a couple of paintings throughout my house and have always wondered if there was a simple way to clean them. Although, I was hesitant to mess with the paintings I now understand I can use a vacuum or air to clean them.
Thanks for mentioning how you should refrain from scrubbing the surface of your oil painting in order to prevent damaging it while it is being cleaned. My wife accidentally tore a small hole in the landscape painting that we have displayed in our living room when she was cleaning the house last weekend. I will share this article with her to prevent it from happening again.
Oil in the paintings make it enduring. It’s ok to use a very soft brush to clean the oil painting. Just do not scrub, it is still very delicate. Our article should help your wife understand how to clean different paintings around your home. Thank you for your feedback, let us know how this worked for you!