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  • Kenetia Lee

Dirty Pictures

No, not those kind! We're talking about the oil and acrylic paintings hanging on your walls, accumulating dust and dirt. It feels sacrosanct to touch them, but seriously, doing nothing over time can devalue their worth and destroy the integrity of their constitution.

Caveat number one—if your art is very old or partly flaking, you need to find a professional art restorer. Do not undertake cleaning these relics by yourself.

However, for more modern pieces, the key words to cleaning them are DRY and SOFT, as in feather dusters or cloths. Avoiding moisture and residue when dusting is critical as you don't want to rub the dirt back on. Feather dusters are highly useful for this situation as are various types of cloths.

As for cleaning solutions, when it comes to oil paintings, do not use solvents. This will dissolve the painting and destroy the picture. If your painting is on canvas, a white cloth dipped in olive oil-based soapy water is perfect to wipe away dirt and grime. For paintings on wood, a microfiber cloth dipped in olive oil based soapy water works. And for thick, impasto works, use a Q-tip to get into the grooves and edges of the paint. As with anything, spot test your cleaning first in an area of the painting where it's least noticed.

If your canvas is loose, spraying the back with water and leaving it to dry in the sun can tighten the canvas fibers, but keep in mind that the front of the picture with the paint should be kept out of the sun to avoid fading. UV light can bleach out colors, especially colors like Alizarin Crimson that are not color fast and highly susceptible to changing.

Keep any paper away from liquids and avoid hanging any fine art over the fireplace where it can get saturated with smoke and soot.

As for glass-protected art and frames, glass cleaner and appropriate cleaners for the type of material the frame is made of can help you see your art better. Anyone who has taken down wall art and seen the discoloring of the walls around the art versus the original paint job behind the frame knows how much damage air pollution can do. Protect your valuables with annual or biannual cleanings.

Paige Blu Industries offers commercial and event cleaning services for art galleries and corporate venues. We do not offer professional art cleaning services, but we will include dusting as part of your services.

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