How to Clean Your Art

Art collectors take pride in their extensive collections, artistic knowledge, and beautiful home galleries. To keep your artwork looking its best, here are several dos and don’ts for cleaning and maintaining your collection.

Artwork on Canvas

Works on canvas require careful attention. If the artwork is in need of an extensive cleaning treatment, we recommend that you use a professional art conservationist to clean and restore the painting.

If the artwork requires a light dusting, tap the painting lightly to remove any loose dirt or dust. Afterwards, use a non-shedding, light cloth and gently dust the surface of the painting.

Artwork Behind Plexiglass

Peter Max Park West Gallery Valentine's Day

Framed artwork by Peter Max.

Plexiglass is often preferred when exhibiting artworks on paper for its flexibility, light-weight composition, and its ability to refract and filter damaging UV light.

When cleaning dust and dirt from plexiglass, avoid using cleaning supplies that contain ammonia, abrasives, or solvents. Use a gentle cloth made of non-abrasive materials. Lightly wet the cloth and gently polish the plexiglass. Continue to polish and turn the cloth to avoid washing the plexiglass with a dirtied area.

Artwork on Metal

clean metal art

A microfiber cloth is excellent for removing dust and small blemishes.

Even though artwork on metal is often protected with a high-gloss urethane coating, long-term damage can still occur if not taken care of properly. To keep your artwork on metal shining, use a dry cotton cloth to lightly rub off dust. Be sure to use a clean cloth, as soiled fabric could potentially cause damage.

To remove fingerprints, first remove any dust to reduce the chance of scratching the artwork with loose grains. Next, dilute a spray detailer, found in most auto parts stores, with water. Use the cleaner to gently wipe off the fingerprints.

Do not use metal cleaner to polish or clean the art. This risks removing the protective clear coat and sheen of the artwork.

Bronze Sculpture

Nano Lopez Little Davian Park West Gallery

“Little Davian” and its accompanying giclee, by Nano Lopez.

Bronze is created from copper alloys, making bronze sculptures incredibly durable. Bronze sculptures are typically coated with a layer of wax or a clear lacquer upon completion. This acts as a barrier to any humidity and prevents oxidation and metal discoloration.

While this initial wax or lacquer coating will ensure the longevity of your bronze sculpture against harmful oxidizing agents, each bronze sculpture should be dusted regularly. To best clean and dust bronze, mix together unscented soap and water in bowl. Lightly buff the sculpture using a clean cloth and the soapy mixture. Soaps with fragrance or unnatural additives may have unknown consequences, so it’s best to avoid these while special bronze cleaners are costly and unnecessary.

Acrylic Sculptures

“Statue of Liberty Ver.III #118” (2016), Peter Max

Acrylic sculptures should be cleaned and cared for like artworks behind plexiglass. Do not polish or wet any painted areas of the acrylic sculpture as this may potentially cause damage.

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18 Responses to How to Clean Your Art

  1. Kenn says:

    Any tips on repairs to ornate frames that have chips or scratches?

  2. Joe Idzakovich says:

    Thanks so much for the tips! We were especially curious as to how to clean our Max acrylic sculpture!

  3. Bob Nalley says:

    THANKS……I appreciate this direction/advice. Bob


    Thanks for the tips

  5. Clayton Young says:

    Thank you

  6. Clayton Young says:

    Thank you for the tips

  7. Lesly L says:

    Thanks for the tips on cleaning. Found them very useful.

  8. Colin Jowett says:

    I like to (gently) use a compressed air canister as used for PC keyboards etc.

  9. Tracey Holbrook says:

    Thanks so much for the tip because my other paintings have glass over them, but I recently made a purchase of a few paintings and just got a piece and it doesn’t have glass over it. So yes, this will help me.

  10. Sanjay P says:

    Great teaching

  11. Todd Hayes says:

    A sincere Thanks for letting your collectors in on these very important steps to keep our artwork looking its best.

  12. Darlene UZELAC says:

    Great advice. Thank you

  13. Darlene UZELAC says:

    Very informative. Thank you

  14. Lee Meyer says:

    This is very helpful. I have a few oil on canvass pieces and have never done anything more aggressive than lightly dusting with a feather duster. Thanks!

  15. Sandi Davison says:

    The tips were very much appreciated…thanks for posting them!

  16. Bernice Kirzner says:

    How do I clean my Agam with the numerous “folds”. Although the shadow box will help, it will not precent dust from settling into the deep paper “folds”.

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