Cleaning Artwork

by April Reinhardt
(last updated November 4, 2013)

Perhaps you've invested a great deal of time and money decorating your home with fine artwork. If you want to preserve your artwork for generations to come, so that they may enjoy the beauty and workmanship, you need to care for it and clean it periodically. Follow these guidelines to learn how to protect your investment by cleaning it properly.

  • Using a soft artist's paintbrush, brush the artwork to remove dust, soot, and pet hair.
  • Soot can also be removed from oil paintings with a piece of bread. Fold the bread in half, and then gently dab at the painting. The soot and other debris will adhere to the bread. Large paintings may require several pieces of bread to remove all of the dirt. Remove leftover bread crumbs with an artist's brush.
  • For artwork other than paintings, use a lint roller to gently pick up dirt and debris.
  • Marble statues and busts can be cleaned with a mild spray cleaner, since marble is a very sturdy stone.
  • Bronze and metal alloys can be cleaned with a mixture of salt and warm water. Dry the pieces thoroughly so that no salt residue remains.

If you have extremely old artwork that needs to be restored, consult a professional about restoration and cleaning. Do not use water or water-based cleaners on a painting, especially if it is peeling, cracking, or flaking. Water can get underneath the paint layers and disintegrate the artwork. When attempting to clean fine artwork, always test a small, inconspicuous place before cleaning the entire piece.

Always use acid-free mats to protect your artwork from discoloration, and avoid hanging them in areas that become steamy, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Artwork that is framed in glass should be carefully cleaned with a cotton cloth. Never spray household cleaners directly onto framed artwork. Instead, spray the cloth and then clean the glassed picture or photo. Dust fine frames with lamb's wool to prevent scratches, and protect your artwork from ultraviolet rays by installing window film. You can further protect your fine artwork from household lighting by having it framed with conservation quality glazing.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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