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How to clean an oil painting at home

Oil painting looking less than vibrant? Learn how to clean it with basic household items.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

a blue painting on a pink wall

Key Steps:

To clean and care for an oil painting at home, follow these key steps:

  1. Remove your painting from the wall and lay it on a flat surface.

  2. Gently dust off any superficial dust and dirt.

  3. Use a wedge of bread to dab the surface and absorb any remaining grime.

Oil painting is a great hobby to take up at any time in your life. Whether you’ve always had a creative streak or are simply keen to develop one now, painting a landscape, still life, or portrait in oils is a great place to start. Learning how to paint and maintain all your painting equipment are steps you know you'll have to take - but what about cleaning the painting itself? Restoring oil paintings is complex work normally handled by a professional but these are some basic tips you can follow to learn how do you clean an old oil painting at home.

If any of the paint starts to flake off while you’re cleaning oil paintings, stop further treating that area to avoid causing any damage.

How to clean an oil painting: what you’ll need

If you plan to clean oil painting at home, you’re going to need a bit of kit. Here are the materials you should have before you start:

  • A soft brush such as a children’s toothbrush. It must be cleaned and sterilised.

  • A loaf of unsliced bread.

  • A knife to cut the bread.

  • A flat surface on which to rest the painting.

How to clean an oil painting: a step-by-step guide

So, you’ve got all the equipment you need, now how do you clean an oil painting? Here is an easy-to-follow guide:

  1. Remove the painting from the wall and place it on a flat surface.

  2. Gently dust the painting from top to bottom with the toothbrush. Make sure the dust falls gently off the surface.

  3. Take a large chunk of bread and remove the insides, discarding the crust.

  4. Rub the bread gently over the surface of the painting. This is a great way to remove debris and grime that has built up.

  5. Use a new piece of bread whenever it starts to change colour - this will prevent you from transferring dirt from one part of the painting to another.

  6. Use the toothbrush to remove any breadcrumbs from the painting afterwards.

Knowing how to care for oil paintings on canvas is much easier than you think. With a soft toothbrush and a few slices of bread you can get your favourite painting looking as good as new again. Try this surprising tip today and see how you get on!

Originally published