Learn How To Clean A Canvas Print The Right Way

A canvas print is a photograph printed on canvas fabric and then mounted over a stretcher frame. It is usually splash-proof and fade-resistant for up to 75 years. Maintaining the aesthetic quality of your canvas print will keep its value high and its life long, regardless of the size or placement of your printing.

A man ready to hang some travel canvas on the wall

While we all know how to clean the bathroom tiles and toilet or a leather sofa, cleaning a canvas print is a completely different story. However, it does not have to be difficult. You can clean your artwork with a variety of different household materials. By following this guide, you will easily clean canvas prints in the comfort of your own home, so keep reading to learn more!

How to clean a canvas print step-by-step

Cleaning your printing might be different from cleaning the rest of your house, yet it isn’t so difficult. You just need to follow a specific procedure and use certain cleaning agents to protect colours and the coating and prolong its lifetime. Let’s learn how to clean your canvas print

Step 1: Position the painting on a firm surface

Choose a surface, such as a table or a worktop., If you handle your painting on an uneven surface, you run the risk of twisting and eventually distorting it. Make sure the frame and painting are both face down on your work surface before you start cleaning.

Step 2: Remove any wires from the back of the frame

Look at the back of the frame for a long, thin wire that helps hold the picture to the wall. Detach both ends of the wire from the frame with a screwdriver, making it easier to access the painting. Keep the wire close by in case you need to reassemble the wall art.

A close up of the back of a canvas showing the staples

Step 3: Remove any nails with a pair of needle-nose pliers

Look for nails along the perimeter of your painting so you can take it off the canvas. Squeeze the pliers around each nail, then pull them away from the painting at an outward angle. Remove the nails until the frame is totally free of them. Avoid moving the painting around while removing the nails vertically as this can harm it.

Step 4: Remove the painting from the frame

Hold the back area of the painting with both hands and then gently remove the canvas out of the frame. Don’t try to pull or force the artwork out if you experience any resistance. Plus, don’t shake the canvas art when removing it since this could damage it. Ask for professional assistance if you believe the painting is stuck in the frame in some way.

Step 5: Set it aside so that you may clean it

Try to handle the artwork as softly and carefully as possible to avoid scratching or damaging the canvas.

Step 6: Blow away any dust with a can of compressed air

Use a can of compressed air to squirt a few spurts of air towards any visible dust or dirt specks. Avoid touching or physically handling the painting while doing so. To avoid residue on the canvas, keep the can a few centimetres away from the painting.

Step 7: Alternatively, you can dust the painting with a brush and vacuum it

Clean the painting’s surface with a soft bristle brush to remove any dust and grime. After that, suck up the loose dust with a small, handheld vacuum at least 5 to 7 cm away from the painting. 

A handheld vacuum cleaner

Step 8: Use saliva and a cotton swab to clean the painting

You don’t need special cleaning agents and solvents to clean the painting since you have your saliva. It might be a bit awkward; however, saliva is an effective cleaning method that has endured the test of time. Plus, you probably already have all of the supplies needed. To collect saliva, swipe a clean cotton swab along your inner cheek or tongue. 

Roll the cotton swab lightly over the painting’s surface, concentrating on any areas that appear to be particularly dirty. Before cleaning with saliva, make sure you haven’t eaten or drunk anything for at least 30 minutes. Consider wiping saliva over a small section of your painting before rubbing it all over it. 

If it seems to be working well, feel free to use it again. Otherwise, use soapy water as a last resort to clean your painting. You can use a cotton swab dipped in deionised warm water instead of saliva if you don’t want to use saliva. 

Foods like white bread and raw potatoes, contrary to common belief, aren’t ideal for cleaning and restoring antique paintings because they might leave residue on the canvas. 

Step 9: Scrub the painting’s surface with an emulsion cleaner

Roll a clean cotton swab across the surface of your painting after dipping it in the emulsion cleaner. Pay special attention to varnished areas with thick dirty layers.

Check the swab from time to time to make sure it’s taking off dirt and not paint. Avoid using extra emulsion cleaner on a soiled swab. If your swab is soiled, replace it with a new, clean one and then roll your swab across the surface of the canvas.

Care tips

1. Stay away from direct sunlight

Hanging your art print in a well-lit part of your home can bring out the colours in it, especially if it’s a strong piece of fine art with a sweeping landscape. However, you should avoid putting your print in direct sunlight for long periods of time. 

Three canvas prints on white furniture

Keep your canvas print away from high humidity levels and environments with poor air circulation. Otherwise, it will distort in a damp environment. Most canvas prints have a UV-resistant coating. Yet, prolonged exposure to bright sunlight can cause your paint to fade. Therefore, the optimal lighting for your painting is soft. Ideal conditions would be more open rooms, have better air circulation, and have ambient light.

2. Store your print with an acid-free paper

When you wish to change your home decor, refurbish your house or move out, you will want to pack your canvas print and store it somewhere. Wrapping prints in acid-free paper or another acid-free material, such as bubble wraps, is essential for long-term storage.

The paper coating will preserve the print surface from scratches, and you won’t experience any yellowing over time because it does not contain acid. Make sure to keep your print in a cool, dry location and avoid exposure to high temperatures, as this can stretch or loosen your canvas over time. You can either hang it on the wall or set it up somewhere close to furniture to place no objects on top of it.

3. Avoid using chemical cleaners

Don’t use a chemical-based cleaner if a damp cloth can’t remove dirt or grime from your canvas photo. Household cleaning chemicals can damage your print’s UV coating or possibly remove some of the ink.

A photograph of a couple kissing each other printed on canvas

Once you’ve gotten chemicals on your canvas, removing them without destroying your print is next to impossible. When this happens, you have no choice but to take your printing to a professional print service provider. 

4. Give it a regular cleaning, but never rub your painting

Clean on a regular basis with a soft cloth or a feather duster, but never rub a painting with your fingers or nails since this can harm the canvas material. Use a slightly damp microfibre cloth if you need more cleaning power. Instead of pushing and rubbing, move the clean cloth in circular motions, and make sure the fabric isn’t so wet that there is some excess water all over your canvas print.

5. Choose a suitable area to hang your canvas print

Avoid bathrooms and unfinished basements, as these are two places in your house where moisture build-up is the most. You should also avoid hanging your canvas artwork in areas where there is a lot of smoke, such as the kitchen. Otherwise, the painting will be discoloured over time. Steam can build up in smaller bathrooms and busy kitchens, causing print disintegration. Remember that cooking steam contains grease, so keep your print away from the burner.

6. Keep it away from children

Keep your painting out of reach of children under the age of three. Children find it fascinating to play with a large photo printed in vibrant colour, and then you will end up with crayons and sticky fingers.

Woman hangs a photo canvas on her wall

You should be able to carefully clean and store your high-quality canvas print using these methods while ensuring they look their best for years to come. Once done, remember to preserve and maintain your print in good shape! 

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