How to Clean an Art Print


Arnold asked: How do I clean a print picture painting? This print is a picture by Paul Detlefsen called “The Good Old Days.” I think this is a print and not an oil painting.

Cleaning a painting can be a challenging situation that largely depends on the value and condition of the painting. If it is in good, strong condition and/or does not hold a high value, it may be worth it to clean on your own. However, if the piece is fragile and/or valuable, it may be a better option to have it cleaned by a professional. If you choose to do it yourself, here are some safe cleaning options that you can do right at home.

You Will Need:

  • Soft bristled paint brush
  • 2-3 loaves of doughy bread (sourdough works well)

Steps to Clean the Print:

  1. Begin by going over the painting with the soft bristled brush to remove any loose dirt and dust.
  2. If there is dirt that cannot be brushed away, there is an easy cleaning method that works well on oil paintings and will also work for prints.
  3. Take the piece outdoors and spread it out over a tarp or other protective layer to keep any moisture from the ground away from the print.
  4. Take a slice of the bread and remove the crust.
  5. Use the soft inside portion to gently rub over the surface of the print.
  6. As you are rubbing, you will notice the dirt and soil from the picture sticking to the bread.
  7. Discard the bread as it becomes dirty and/or disintegrates and start with a fresh piece.
  8. It is best to work in small sections in a methodical order so that you can keep track of the areas that have already been completed.
  9. When the entire print has been cleaned, use the soft brush to gently go over the print again and remove any remaining crumbs. This is an important step because these crumbs will surely attract insects and you don’t want them making a home on your print.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • For deeper cleanings, it is best to consult a professional for advice, especially if you are unsure exactly what type of print you own. In order to complete the cleaning yourself, it is necessary to be informed of what type of materials were used so that the proper cleaners can be applied without causing damage.
  • In any case, if you are ever concerned about damaging the print, do not hesitate to contact a pro for advice and/or assistance.


  1. Does not answer the question of how to clean a PRINT, i.e., on paper, NOT how to clean a painting.

  2. So how do I know if it is worth anything? I live in a small town of 900 people. Where do you get info? Where is professional help??? Tried looking up where the print came from and there was some info on the back.

  3. Melanie says:

    If you can contact the source of the print, that would be best. If that doesn’t work, you can often get an appraisal at an art museum or gallery, but you will probably need to go to the nearest large city. There are also many organizations of professional appraisers.
    Source: – Art Appraisal Info

  4. I have what appears to be one of the reproductions from the 1950’s – 60’s. It is similar to the piece shown except mine is much larger and has a house on the left side. There is a metal plate on the front that says, “Serene Setting” Menetti.
    It looks like who ever had it for a time was a smoker, so if bread is what I need to use, I’m going to need a truck load. I need to know what is safe to spray on and wipe to clean. Like some home remedy of vinegar and water… Help??

  5. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Clean Nicotine from an Art Print. That article does mention, as you guessed, a weak solution of vinegar and water. You can start with an extremely weak solution, like 1 part vinegar to 6 or even 8 parts water, and increase the amount of vinegar if needed, being careful to watch the coloring on the print as you clean.

  6. I have a print from early 1940 and can’t find anything about and no artist name. It is called The Blue Satin Dress from a tape on back. Any suggestions?

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