Tips on Cleaning Oil-Based Paintings

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When you have made an investment in the artwork you cherish, it’s worth a little extra effort to keep your treasured pieces in the best possible condition. The surface of oil paintings is unique and sensitive, so they collect dirt, grime, and stain over time. It is highly important to keep them clean so that those art pieces never lose their charm and spark with time. How exactly we should do that? Let’s learn how we can actually clean oil painting and never let that charm of our precious artwork go.

-So when exactly we should clean oil painting? Some symptoms of aging and damaged artwork are:

  • Flaking paint
  • Discoloration
  • Cracks
  • Warping


A painting of a canyon

1. Dry Cleaning Method

Although you can remove light dust, airborne pet hair, and even soot from an oil painting yourself, a deeper, more thorough cleaning should always be left to a professional. As long as the painting isn’t damaged, however, you can prolong the life of your oil painting with these easy maintenance steps.

2. Cleaning With Saliva

A clock sitting in the middle of a room

Dip either side of the cotton swab into the saliva; make sure the cotton on the end of the swab gets damp and not saturated. Using saliva for cleaning your art pieces might seem a little odd, but many museum curators and other professions have been using this cleaning technique from centuries. If an of the paint color shows up on the cotton swap do not proceed

3. Cleaning with the Lemon Juice

To prepare the solution Mix a few drops of lemon into lukewarm water and leave that solution as it is for a couple of minutes and then strain the remains of the lemon. Your solution is ready. To clean Oil painting with this solution,  Dampen a cotton ball into the solution. Squeeze most of the water out of the ball and then dab the damp cotton ball on the panting. Continue dabbing until an area of the painting is damp then gently wipe the cotton ball across the painting.

4. Clean with Sodium Carbonate

Dissolve a half tsp of sodium carbonate crystals into a cup of warm water and dip a cotton ball into the mixture and start dabbing the cotton ball onto the painting from an upward to lower direction. Do not stretch the canvas. Dampen a clean soft sponge with plain water and wipe gently to remove any sodium carbonate left on the painting and allow it to dry

Additional Tips

Many amateurs will tell you that wiping the surface of an oil painting with vinegar or a cut potato is a great way to remove dirt and grime from the surface. This is not a good idea, especially if your painting is valuable or old. Food-based cleaning techniques can leave behind crumbs and residue. If your piece is extremely dirty and you’re willing to risk the possibility of damaging it, consider trying food-based techniques.

This is all you needed to know about cleaning oil paintings with vinegar.

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