How to Clean an Oil Painting without Damaging It

How to Clean an Oil Painting without Damaging It

Artworks are considered prized possessions. An oil painting should be kept clean and as good as new, whether a garage sale finds, a part of your inheritance, or a collector’s piece. 

Oil paintings are also eligible for depreciation, and preserving it can be beneficial in the long run. However, keeping a good image of the painting requires a little effort in preserving and cleaning. It is essential to remember that how to clean an oil painting may require the best and most delicate effort.

There are advantages if you know how to clean a canvas painting or you know how to dust an old painting. You may sell it with a slight difference in how much you bought it or sell it higher than its depreciated price. 

Why Should You Clean Oil Paintings?

If you haven't figured it out, cleaning an oil painting can prevent it from looking dull, faded, or aged. As time passes, dirt and unwanted layers build up your oil painting. If this isn’t cleaned up immediately, the dirty layer may build up, which can be a larger problem in the future.

It May Lead to Discoloration and Aging

Though professionals should do this job, you can clean an oil painting on your own. However, you need to make sure you have the patience to do it. Otherwise, you are risking the quality of the painting, and you are just wasting your time. But once you have done it, the oil painting will keep its vibrant colors, just like how the artist did it in the beginning.

Dust is Stubborn

Wherever your artwork is stored or even if you have kept it in appropriate storage, it is most likely to accumulate dirt at a rapid pace. It may have a devastating effect on the oil painting. As we know, oil paintings are not covered by anything.

How To Clean Oil Painting 

woman painting
Source image from

Remove Dust

This is the easiest way to keep your oil paintings looking vibrant. You don’t need an oil painting cleaner to clean it effectively. 
Looking for a home remedy for cleaning oil paintings? You only need household items, such as freshly baked bread, a soft toothbrush, or paintbrush.
Just gently store it with a soft touch if you use a brush or a slice of bread and dab it on the painting. Should there be bread debris, just brush it off with a soft toothbrush or a paintbrush.

How To Care For Your Oil Painting

Whether it is a reproduction or an original painting, you should know how to clean an oil painting. Unlike watercolors, oil paintings are prone to deterioration and scratches.

Place It Away From Humid Areas

It is best to hang oil paintings away from bathrooms and stoves, especially if your oil painting is created on paper. Not only will it develop molds, but it may also be damaged because of moisture, steam, and grease.
These areas have the highest concentrations of dirt, so it is preferable to place them in bedrooms or living rooms to prevent damage.

Transport It With Care

If you are transferring your oil painting, it needs to be covered with flat pieces of cardboard–both on the front and the back. Aside from this, you also need to cover it with bubble wrap and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. 

Place It Where Smoke Is Minimal

If you are living with smokers in the house, you better leave your oil paintings away from the smoking area. It damages the painting, and the nicotine also leaves smogs in the oil painting. 
If this is the case, cleaning oil paintings with vinegar may keep them looking vibrant. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should never be used to clean an oil painting?

Never use a wet cloth, stiff brushes, or feather dusters. The wet cloth may build up moisture, and stiff brushes and feather dusters may also damage its layer.

What are available solvents for cleaning oil paintings?

Though there are several solvents for oil paintings in the market, turpentine is the most commonly used.

How often should oil paintings be cleaned?

Since oil paintings can be easily damaged, cleaning oil paintings should only be done when they are dusty or accumulate fungal growth.

Can I clean the oil painting myself?

It can be tricky to do it on your own, especially if you do not have the appropriate solvent to do it. It is best to leave cleaning oil paintings to the experts.

How much does it cost to have an oil painting cleaned?

The rate for an oil painting cleaner can range from $100 to $250 an hour. It is a delicate process and requires enough skills and patience to finish a single oil painting. 

Oil Painting Alternative

If you're someone who struggles to keep their oil paintings clean and free of streaks, then you may want to consider investing in a watercolor portrait. While they do require a bit more careful handling than your average painting, the results are often worth it.

Watercolors allow for a much greater degree of realism and detail than traditional oils, and because the paint is applied in thin layers, the finished product has a much more airy feel about it. Not to mention, watercolors are perfect for capturing the subtleties of light and shadow that can be so difficult to capture with oils. So if you're looking for a realistic portrait that really captures the character of the subject, you should definitely consider ordering a watercolor portrait. 

Final Thoughts

Do you want to keep your memories in a painting or surprise someone with a thoughtful gift? Visit Memorialize Art and order a painting now. ur talented artists will turn your snapshots into stunning paintings that you'll treasure forever. So don't settle for an ordinary gift this year - give a work of art that celebrates the special people and moments in your life.