How to Clean Watercolor Paintings

Photo by Gaia Metal Studio -

Photo by Gaia Metal Studio –

Watercolor paintings are unique when it comes to cleaning. Unlike canvas paintings, they are comprised of a special type of paper, and they must be cleaned with care. Some people assume they cannot be cleaned since paper and water do not mix they are easy to clean in a few simple steps. When watercolor paintings become soiled, try these simple ways to clean them. With proper care, they can beautify the home or office for many years to come.

Precautionary Statement

When in doubt, hire a professional restorer to clean watercolor paintings that have been soiled. Use commonsense, and attempt the following easy methods with caution.

A Natural Way to Clean Watercolor Paintings

Do not use water in an attempt to clean watercolor paintings. Instead, use bread to clean away dust and surface grime. Simply ball up a small piece of fresh white bread, and gently rub it over the surface of watercolor paintings. The bread will work like an eraser to pick up dust and dirt. If the watercolor paintings were truly dirty, the white bread will look dirty. Continue this process with fresh pieces of soft white bread until the bread no longer picks up any dust or dirt. It is a natural and very simple way to clean the unpainted areas.

How to Spot Clean Watercolor Paintings

Kneaded gum erasers are a must for artists, even those that create watercolor paintings. They are by far better erasers than anything that ever topped the end of a pencil. They work very well to remove pencil marks, but they also work to remove dirty and grime from works of art, including watercolor paintings. A new kneaded gum eraser can be used to quickly and easily clean water color paintings with spots of dirt and grime. Simply knead a clean unused gum eraser, and shape it accordingly. Gently rub away dirty marks from unpainted areas. It will clean away most marks from watercolor paintings, but oil-based stains require specialized care.

How to Clean Away Oil-Based Stains on Watercolor Paintings

When oil-based stains are on watercolor paintings, they may seem impossible to clean, but the paintings can be saved with acetone solvent, a small craft iron, a cotton swab, and blotting paper. Look for the solvent, iron, and blotting paper online or in major craft stores. Extreme care must be taken when using this method to clean oil-based stains from watercolor paintings, but if you do not want to hire a professional, it is worth a try.

Begin by carefully applying the acetone solvent to the oil-based stains using a cotton swab. Place the blotting paper over the treated area, and with the craft iron on a warm setting, use the tip to iron the blotting paper and clean away the stain. The oil should be absorbed into the blotting paper. Be careful not to iron the painted areas, and protect them with a piece of cardstock or something similar, if necessary.

Source: Advanced Art Experience

Originally Published Non-Exclusively at Yahoo Voices on 4/27/2010 by Crystal Ray

Republished at FOK on 10/25/2013