How To Clean Oil Paintings

Learning how to clean oil paintings can help maintain that fresh, new, clean look over the years. Oil paintings make for beautiful indoor decor for any home or building. Over time, oil paintings can tend to darken and accumulate a lot of dirt and dust particles. Cleaning oil paintings can brighten them up, bringing color and detail back to the painting. You have to use extreme caution when cleaning your oil painting, but once it is cleaned it will look brand new. There are a few different things that you can do to clean oil paintings.

To clean oil paintings, you will need:

  • A soft-bristle brush
  • A soft cotton cloth
  • A vacuum with small attachments
  • A neutralizer
  • Gloves
  1. Dust the painting and the frame. Use a dry soft-bristle brush, such as a baby's toothbrush or soft paintbrush, to remove dust and particles from everyday build-up. Gently dust the oil painting in its entirety. Make sure that you dust the corners as well as the frame. Turn the painting over once you are done dusting the front and dust the back of the oil painting as well.
  2. Apply the neutralizer. Put your gloves on before you begin this step. Pour a small amount of neutralizer into a small container. Dip a cotton wool or white cotton cloth into the neutralizer and gently wipe small sections of the oil painting at a time. The neutralizer removes surface and residual dirt from the painting prior to cleaning it more thoroughly.
  3. Clean sticky or oily surfaces with a mild detergent solution. Be very cautious and do not add too much moisture when cleaning, as excess moisture can damage the canvas. Mix dish soap and warm water and use a new, clean, soft cotton cloth dipped in this mixture. Lightly blot the surface of the oil painting. Be carefully not to scrub, rub or wipe the oil painting. Check the cloth periodically as you blot, and if the paint colors are being removed on the cloth, stop cleaning immediately.
  4. Use a vacuum with attachments to remove the dust. If needed, purchase a micro attachment kit for your vacuum with very small brushes. With a light circular motion, gently clean over the oil painting. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as you only want to remove dirt and dust particles. Using a vacuum will help remove dirt, but will not work on cleaning the sticky parts of the oil painting.
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