How to Clean an Oil Painting

What You'll Need
Soft brush
White bread
Cotton wool
Small plastic container
Kraft paper
Emulsion cleaner
Cotton swabs

An oil painting makes a delightful component of indoor decor. Many oil paintings are antique pieces that require proper handling and maintenance. With time, paintings will accumulate dust and other particles that mar the beauty and visibility of the artwork. Following is a simple guide to help you get your oil paintings clean.

Step 1 - Lay the kraft paper

Lay out enough kraft paper onto a flat working surface. You can then place your painting onto the paper.

Step 2 - Dust Painting

Use a soft brush to clear accumulated dust, pet hair and other particles from the painting surface. Gently dust the entire painting and make sure you also dust at the corners.

Step 3 - Dust Frame

Use your soft brush to gently dust the entire frame. Once done, proceed to dust the back of the painting in the same way.

Step 4 - Remove Soot

Soot from the fireplace or candle usage may have accumulated on the painting. This is best removed using white bread. If the painting is small, one loaf will suffice. Larger paintings will require two loaves for a good job. Paintings that are quite dirty will also need more bread to do the job well. Break a piece of bread and press it over a small area of the painting then remove. You will see the dirt collected onto the bread. Systematically move over the entire painting surface, dabbing at small sections one at a time. It is important that you place the bread over small areas for best results. Some patience will be called for.

Step 5 - Apply Neutralizer

Put on your gloves before you proceed wth cleaning. Pour some neutralizer into a small container. Slightly dip some cotton wool into the neutralizer then proceed to gently wipe away on small sections of the painting at a time. Be careful to use a fresh lot of cotton wool as you proceed. The neutralizer balances the effects of the cleaning product that will be used later. It also removes residual dirt.

Step 6 - Cleaning

Dip the cotton swab into the emulsion cleaner. Do not let the swabs get soggy with the cleaner as this will damage your painting. Let them get slightly saturated. Apply onto the painting with short rolling motions. Work over the entire painting surface. Take note of any color that may come off as you proceed. Do not dip the same swab into the emulsion cleaner but use a different swab for each section as you proceed.

Step 7 - Neutralize

After you've cleaned the entire painting, you will have to apply neutralizer again using the cotton wool. This is a protective measure.

Step 8 - Varnish

Varnish brings out the painting colors more vibrantly. It also protects the painting and keeps it in good shape. Use the cotton swabs to apply varnish over the entire painting. Work on small sections at a time. Apply using gentle rolling motions. Once applied, leave the painting to dry then hang it up in its place. You can now admire the beauty of your oil painting.