I want to help your artwork last a lifetime. To do that, you need to know how to take care of it properly! Here are some tips and tricks for cleaning oil paintings.

Why Clean Your Paintings?

You may be wondering if it’s completely necessary to clean your artwork. And that’s a valid question! Life is busy, and art just sits on a wall, looking nice. So why even bother to clean?

The answer is simple – it’s important to you! You spent money on the art in your home and chances are, the art has some significance to you. That means it’s worth preserving. The good news about cleaning oil paintings is it can be done as needed, so there’s no need to stress. You’ll also be impressed by how differently your paintings will look after a cleaning!

Tips and Tricks:

Set Up on a Clean, Dry Surface

When cleaning oil paintings, your setup is important.  Dust can build up on an oil painting and cause it to look dull. Not to mention it can dry it out, causing cracking and peeling. So, when you clean, you want the dust to fall away from your painting and not back onto it.

First things first, you should set your painting on a clean, dry surface. Make sure there is no dust or moisture around that could harm your painting. Then, prop up your painting with the top angled forward. This will help the dust fall off onto the ground instead of where you dusted it off.

Know What Not to Do

Before we get into the cleaning “do’s,” you should know about some cleaning “don’ts.” There are quite a few myths out there, and it would be unfortunate to trust one of them and then ruin your painting.

A big “no-no” is using water or cleaning supplies on an oil painting. Water and cleaning supplies can cause serious damage to your art, so stay away. A strange but popular myth is that you can use white bread to clean oil paintings. The thought is white bread is soft and absorbent enough to take dirt and residue off of a painting without harming it. However, using food to clean your painting creates the risk of leaving crumbs behind. This can attract bugs or cause mold to grow on your artwork. Don’t use any edible items to clean your artwork. It’s not worth the risks!

Dust Your Painting

When you dust, your tool of choice will make a big difference. Your instinct might be to grab an old rag, but you should skip that for this task. Cloths can snag on the painting and cause damage to it. The same goes for feather dusters or brushes, as they can cause scratches. The key to effectively cleaning oil paintings is by microfiber cloth, or even better, a soft brush. Dust in small sections from top to bottom. Don’t forget to use a light hand!

Clean with a Cotton Swab

To really clean off an oil painting, many experts recommend using saliva. It sounds odd, but saliva is strong enough to break down dirt and grime but weak enough that it won’t break down any paint. Crazy, right??

To use this trick, just wet a cotton swab with saliva and then wipe it on the surface of the painting to remove dirt and residue. Make sure to not eat or drink anything but water for half an hour before trying the saliva method. Some food and drinks could mess up the enzyme activity of your saliva, and that could cause damage to your paintings.

Enjoy Your Paintings for a Lifetime

Hopefully, you find these cleaning tips and tricks useful! The care you put into your oil paintings will help you enjoy them for a long time. If you are looking for a piece of art to enjoy for a lifetime, check out my paintings! And of course, if you have a question about one of my pieces, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for supporting your local Colorado artists!