Cleaning art : sometimes its best to spit

When seasons change, cleaning is the main topic riding at full speed in our minds. If you are an art lover, then the walls of your home or art studio are probably covered with paintings. But, do these paintings look as good as in the day they were painted? Do some of these paintings look dusty, or what is even worse, do they look discoloured? Or, you might be interested in preserving these paintings even if there are no visible signs of damage or dust? Here we will share with you a few tips on how to clean art works and how to keep them from getting dirty. Hopefully, you will find the article useful.

How to keep art pieces from getting dirty or dusty

When taking care of your art pieces, you ought to be aware of what can cause eventual damage or contamination. Keep in mind that it is much harder to clean your art works rather than it is to protect them.

If you are the painter, do not forget to apply an additional coat of varnish in order to keep the painting from getting dusty. When doing it, make sure that there is no dust on the work because you would not want to seal those dust particles, would you? Plus, applying varnish on the painting increases the color saturation. However, there are different kinds of oil paintings and acrylics on which is not advisable to apply varnish. Do not forget to read the instructions in the first place so that you will not make a mistake.

How to clean and protect the paintings: home

If you do not store or display the paintings properly, you may risk to damage them. Most paintings are light-sensitive. It is the reason why they must not be placed on direct light exposure. High temperature and humidity may be the main culprits for damages on oil paintings. So if you are planning on storing the painting in the attic or basement, keep this in mind. You may even consider getting a humidifier.

For more fragile paintings, have them framed with a protective glass.

Not many people know it but smoking near a piece of art can cause damages such as changing the tone. Especially if the painting is not varnished. So avoid smoking in a place with paintings.

How to clean and protect paintings: over the years

Unfortunately, one of the easiest way for a piece of art to get dirty or damaged is to age naturally. Fortunately, there is a way to limit the process such as applying varnish or storing the piece the right way. There are a few symptoms which can tell if the painting ages. Some of these include warping, discolouration, cracks or flaking paint. If some of these are visible, consider turning to a professional.

If you live in a rented property and you are about to vacate the place, it is a good idea to turn to a professional cleaning company. Some companies hire super end of tenancy cleaners who can even take care of the paintings for you.

When to clean artworks

First of all, think about the value of the painting. If it is a famous artist’ original painting, you would not want to clean it yourself. Turn to a professional restorer for the best outcome.

If you decide to take care of the painting yourself, make sure to identify the kind of damage. Are there any signs of discolouration or aging? Or, maybe it is just dusty? If the damage is too major, it is advisable to turn to a professional because cleaning of artwork requires set of skills and knowledge. Without this set, you risk to permanently damage the piece.

Do not use cleaning products: It is obvious. Most cleaners laden with harsh chemicals are abrasive or have tone-changing properties. They will not clean the painting but can stain it. Do not risk to damage the painting.

Do not use water: There is a big difference between cleaning the floor and cleaning a painting. It is why the same method of treating is not acceptable. Water has the power to change the dimension of the work. So instead of using water, try these two methods out:

#1 A soft, dry brush: The easiest way to clean your piece is to dust it with a brush but you need to make sure that there is no moisture or paint left on the bristles.

#2 Spit: It may sound a little bit strange but saliva is less likely to damage your painting. Swipe the surface of the artwork with a q-tip and that’s it. Avoid eating or drinking anything for a half an hour before using this trick. Then, test a little piece of the painting so you can see the effect and determine whether or not to keep on cleaning it. Do not use rough materials because you can scratch the painting. As this method can consume much of your time, you can consider turning to a professional.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, a curation of the world’s most interesting culture + art of CONVERSATION, a tri-annual broadsheet paper ....