Making Your Oil Painting Vibrant Again

After weeks, months, or even years on the wall, that gigantic and impressive oil painting that you’ve hung on your living room will lose its spark. Why? How about a thick coat of dust? A layer of grime? Even insects that were squashed into the canvas?

What does these all boil down to? Cleaning your painting, of course. But how? Oils are delicate and sensitive art media, and the wrong solvent, applicator, or cleaning method can definitely ruin your priceless treasure. But don’t worry, there are many safe and sure-fire techniques that can restore your painting to its former glory.

1. Brush away the dust and dirt by using a soft-bristled brush. A camels-hair brush with a squeeze-type blower is perfect; you can find this in camera-supply stores. Brushing and blowing at the painting removes most of the recent surface dust. Concentrate on corners and hard-to-reach places.

2. Get a dry piece of lint-less cloth and gently wipe the painting, including the frame. This will remove away surface dirt that the brush wasn’t able to get rid of.

3. Get a bowl of warm, clean water; don’t mix any other substance or solvent. Take a couple of cotton balls, Q-tips, or a piece of lintless piece of cloth as your applicator. Wet your applicator and get rid of excess water by wringing it; you just want to moisten your applicator, not to drench it with water.

4. Wipe the painting gently. Dust, grime, and dirt that still remain will stick on the wet cloth, cotton, or Q-tip. After a few wipes, you will notice your applicator becoming dirty. Clean it by dipping it back into the water and wringing it. Repeat the process until the painting is visibly clean.

5. Here’s another ingenious way: take a piece of bread. A loaf should be enough for a good-sized painting. Tear the bread into large chunks.

6. Use a bread chunk as a sponge and wipe it on the painting. Pay special attention to on corners, hard-to-reach places. Throw away the chunk when it becomes dirty and use a new one.

7. Brush away the crumbs from the painting using your camel-hair brush.

Your oil painting should be neat and tidy after this. Note though that this is only effective for surface dirt. If the grime is deep-seated and can’t be removed, then take your painting to a professional restorer or conservator to have it cleaned.