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How To Take Care of Your Art

We had a request from one of our favorite clients to write a blog about regular maintenance of artwork. He was concerned after seeing dust on their frames and canvases and wanted to clean them without doing anything that might cause damage.

I remembered writing a blog once called “The Care & Feeding of Your Artwork,” and when I went back to look for it, I found I had written it nearly four years ago! It focused mainly on long-term care – varnishing, rematting, etc. It didn’t deal with the every day care of canvases and art framed with glass.

The first rule in caring for your art is the same as the Hippocratic Oath:  “First Do No Harm.”   
We’ve pretty much seen it all in our years of owning The Art Shop:

  • A housekeeper sprayed Pledge all over a canvas each time she cleaned it, resulting in a huge build up of yellow gook.

  • A housekeeper was mopping and jabbed the mop handle behind her through a canvas and putting a hole in it.

  • A housekeeper thought the dusty finish on a hand carved frame was actual dust and scrubbed off the finish leaving a shiny spot on the frame.

  • Bullet holes in a canvas – not sure we want to know what happened there.

The common denominator above as you have probably noticed (excluding the bullet holes) is “housekeeper.”  Instruct your cleaning service or housekeeper on how to care for your art.  Give them the following Dos & Don’ts:


  • For canvases, use a feather duster or soft lint-free cloth regularly to remove surface dust.

  • For glass, spray glass cleaner onto a soft cloth  (not paper towel which can scratch) and wipe gently.

  • For plexi, use a plastic cleaner on a soft cloth – not a glass cleaner which will scratch.

  • For frames, wipe with a soft lint-free cloth or with a dry feather duster.


  • Spray glass cleaner directly onto the glass or plexi as it can seep under the glass and damage the art

  • Spray anything onto a canvas or frame

The greatest enemies of your artwork are sunlight, smoke and humidity, so you should hang or store your art away from direct sunlight, areas with high humidity (bathrooms, for example that don’t have exhaust fans) and wood-burning fireplaces.

If you have any questions on how to care for a specific piece of art, don’t hesitate to call us and if there’s another topic you’d like to see covered in one of our blogs, please let us know!


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