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How to Clean and Maintain a Canvas Painting

How to Clean and Maintain a Canvas Painting

Are you looking for a way to clean a canvas painting without damaging it? Then please read on about how to clean and maintain a canvas painting.

Original artwork isn’t only valued monetarily but is a lifetime investment. Whether you made the canvas painting yourself or bought it from a renowned artist, it’s important to make sure that it is well-maintained. Even though acrylic paintings are more resistant to aging and pressure and have a longer lifespan compared to oil paintings, they need to be cleaned regularly to ensure longevity. Here is everything you need to know about how to maintain canvas paintings.

How to Clean and Maintain a Canvas Painting – Important Factors

Before you begin cleaning your canvas painting, here is a list of three factors that you need to consider in order to determine the cleaning process and have a better understanding of your canvas:

1.      The Value of the Canvas Painting

When cleaning your canvas painting, the first few questions you must ask yourself are, “From where did I get this canvas painting?” Did I make it? Did I get it from a local store? Is it worth millions? The answer to these questions will help you in determining two things:

Are you comfortable handling the canvas painting maintenance process yourself or should you send it to a professional cleaner?

If you plan to clean the canvas painting yourself, it is essential to conduct thorough research to understand the canvas. You must also ensure to handle the painting with utmost care and delicacy during the cleaning process

2.      The Type of Painting

Typically, artists use acrylic or oil paint when working on a canvas. Thus, to determine the cleaning and maintenance process of a canvas painting, it is significant to know which type of paint you are dealing with. While simple dusting works on two kinds of paintings, water usage can cause acrylic paint to shrink while oil does not.

3.      The Condition of the Canvas Painting

Does the canvas painting appear warped, flaky, or yellowed? Do not forget to keenly and thoroughly examine our canvas painting to determine the method of cleaning. The process of cleaning your canvas painting basically depends upon the damage you are dealing with if it’s a small spot, a soft bristle brush will work perfectly. However, if it’s the entire artwork, you will need to implement a more extensive yet professional approach.

How to Clean Your Canvas Painting

The method that you opt for cleaning your canvas painting directly depends upon the type of painting that you are dealing with. Whether it is acrylic or an oil painting, using a soft cloth or brush with help in sweeping away the dust build-up. When cleaning your canvas painting, try to be as gentle as possible and use light strokes to ensure no paint damage. But what to do if you see your artwork turning warped or flaky? Here’s the expert-advised method to clean your canvas painting professionally:

Cleaning Your Canvas Painting With a Brush and Air

To clean the canvas painting, you need a compressed air can, a bowl of water (optional), and most importantly, a fiber cloth or a soft bristle brush.

Start by placing your canvas painting on a sturdy and flat surface. Now hold the compressed air can in one hand to carefully blow off the dust from the artwork. In your other hand, hold a brush or cloth to slowly dust off the accumulated dirt and grime. When doing so, make sure to use soft strokes only. In case you want to intensify the cleaning process, slightly damp the cloth in water and carefully wipe it over the surface.

How to Maintain Canvas Painting

When properly taken care of, you can preserve an oil or acrylic painting for a long time. To help you out, we have compiled the top seven expert-advised ways how to maintain a canvas painting. So, without any further ado, let’s begin.

1.      Keep Your Canvas Painting in a Safe Place

Do you want to keep your canvas paintings as good as new? Make sure to hang it in a dry and less humid area. The fewer variations in the room temperature, the safer and more vibrant your artwork will be.

2.      Avoid Direct Sunlight

Direct exposure to sunlight can result in fading the color of your canvas painting and causing breakage. Therefore, make sure to hang all your canvas paintings in an area with minimum sunlight. In case you want to hang your artwork in front of a window, spray over a layer of UV-resistant coating. And make sure to keep the curtains closed during the peak sunlight hours of the day.

3.      Dust, Don’t Rub

Like any other piece of furniture, a canvas painting can collect cobwebs and dust over time. So, when it comes to cleaning your canvas painting, only use a dry cloth or a feather brush to wipe off the surface. Note that using your nails or fingers to remove the debris or dust can cause permanent damage to the canvas painting. In case you need more cleaning power, opt for a damped microfiber cloth. When doing so, move in a circular motion rather than pressing the cloth against the canvas’s surface.

4.      Dry and Cool Is Best

Aside from avoiding direct sunlight, consider humidity and temperature when determining where to hang your canvas painting. Primarily because moisture and heat might cause your canvas to stretch over time. Therefore, make sure to keep the canvas-based artwork in a cool and dry place. Avoid areas of your property where moisture might accumulate, such as bathrooms. Furthermore, also avoid displaying your canvas painting in the kitchen. This is because cooking produces smoke and water vapors, which are lethal for an artwork.

5.      Store with Acid-Free Paper

If you are planning to shift to a new home or want to store your canvas painting for some time, wrap the artwork in acid-free paper. The acid-free material will work as a protective layer, saving your canvas painting from scratches and fading over time.

6.      Protect Your Canvas Painting in Mirror Box

If you are too lazy to clean your canvas paintings daily, another way to preserve your artwork is to cover (store) it inside a mirror box. This protects the canvas painting from grime, cobwebs, and dust, preserving its smooth and shiny texture for years to come.

7.      Do Not Use Chemical Cleaners

Many people believe that chemical-based cleaning solutions can help in removing grime, dust, and dirt in a far better way than a damp cloth. However, this is nothing but a myth. According to professionals, chemical cleaners have harsh toxins that can result in breaking down the UV coating of the canvas painting and stripping away the ink. Simply put, once you get chemicals over your artwork, it can be impossible to remove them without damaging the paint.

8.      Consider Over-The-Counter Cleaners for a Canvas Painting

Another option that might work is a couple of over-the-counter cleaners such as Winsor & Newton Artists’ Picture Cleaner, It works by dissolving linseed oil oxidation and will remove surface dirt and the products of oxidation in the old varnish on the painting. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and do a very small sample cleaning.

Another cleaner that may be a good option is Otter Wax Canvas Cleaner. It’s an all-natural canvas cleaner that is good for cleaning waxed and oiled fabrics without damaging the canvas. Again, please, please read all the institutions carefully before using, so as to not permanently damage your painting.

In this case, we either recommend using the above-mentioned guide to clean and maintain your canvas painting or taking your artwork to a professional cleaner.

How to Clean and Maintain a Canvas Painting | Do’s and Don’ts

When you have invested in a canvas painting that you love, it is worth some extra effort to ensure that the artwork stays in its pristine condition. However, because the canvas is sensitive to the changing environment, temperature and lighting, even the slightest mistake can cause damage worth hundreds of dollars. Here is a list of the dos and don’ts on how to maintain canvas painting:


  • Remove dust from the front and back of the frame at least twice a week.
  • Use compressed air in a can to blow the dust off the surface.
  • Use a light, soft brush to dislodge the dust, grime, and dust from the canvas painting.
  • Store your canvas painting in a dry area with recessed lighting, indirect sunlight, or halogen lights.
  • Do cover the painting with a glass frame.
  • Insects can also damage your canvas painting. So, if you suspect an infestation, do not waste any time and take your artwork to a professional cleaner.
  • When transporting, carefully pack your canvas painting using acid-free sheets, nylon foam, bubble wrap, or tissue paper.


  • Do not use chemical-based products or cleaning solutions to clean the surface of the canvas painting. In fact, it’s even discouraged to use water to clean a painting.
  • Do not use moist or dry dust cloths, feather dusters, or stiff bristles to clean acrylic or oil painting.
  • Never spray polish or freshener over the canvas painting.
  • When storing a painting, make sure that no rigid objects are pressing against its surface.
  • Do not place your canvas painting above any heat sources, such as above the fireplace or in direct sunlight.
  • Don’t hang your canvas painting in an area with excessive moisture or extreme temperature.

How to Clean and Maintain a Canvas Painting – Wrapping Up!

Like every other thing in your home, an acrylic canvas painting can also attract grime and dust. Acrylic paints are a medium that has a quicker drying time compared to oil. So, even if you are proud that you have used acrylic paints, the canvas will get dusty over time. Therefore, to protect the painting from fibers and grime, make sure that you dust your artwork every day.

When dusting your canvas painting, only use a dry microfiber cloth or soft bristle brush and be gentle throughout the process. Note that using a wet cloth can result in damaging the painting, precisely on the flaky areas. So, just like your home needs proper maintenance and care, your canvas paintings also require proper preservation. Follow this how-to-maintain canvas painting guide to clean your canvas painting like a professional.

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